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MTREE (8) | System administration commands and daemons | Unix Manual Pages | :man


mtree - map a directory hierarchy


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mtree [-LPUcdeinqruxw]
.Bk -words [-f spec]
.Bk -words [-f spec]
.Bk -words [-K keywords]
.Bk -words [-k keywords]
.Bk -words [-p path]
.Bk -words [-s seed]
.Bk -words [-X exclude-list]


The mtree utility compares the file hierarchy rooted in the current directory against a specification read from the standard input. Messages are written to the standard output for any files whose characteristics do not match the specifications, or which are missing from either the file hierarchy or the specification.

The options are as follows:

-L Follow all symbolic links in the file hierarchy.
-P Do not follow symbolic links in the file hierarchy, instead consider the symbolic link itself in any comparisons. This is the default.
-U Modify the owner, group, permissions, and modification time of existing files to match the specification and create any missing directories or symbolic links. User, group and permissions must all be specified for missing directories to be created. Corrected mismatches are not considered errors.
-c Print a specification for the file hierarchy to the standard output.
-d Ignore everything except directory type files.
-e Do not complain about files that are in the file hierarchy, but not in the specification.
-i Indent the output 4 spaces each time a directory level is descended when create a specification with the -c option. This does not affect either the /set statements or the comment before each directory. It does however affect the comment before the close of each directory.
-n Do not emit pathname comments when creating a specification. Normally a comment is emitted before each directory and before the close of that directory when using the -c option.
-q Quiet mode. Do not complain when a "missing" directory cannot be created because it already exists. This occurs when the directory is a symbolic link.
-r Remove any files in the file hierarchy that are not described in the specification.
-u Same as -U except a status of 2 is returned if the file hierarchy did not match the specification.
-w Make some errorconditions non-fatal warnings.
-x Do not descend below mount points in the file hierarchy.
-f file
Read the specification from file, instead of from the standard input.

If this option is specified twice, the two specifications are compared to each other rather than to the file hierarchy. The specifications be sorted like output generated using -c . The output format in this case is somewhat remniscent of comm(1), having "in first spec only", "in second spec only", and "different" columns, prefixed by zero, one and two TAB characters respectively. Each entry in the "different" column occupies two lines, one from each specification.

-K keywords
Add the specified (whitespace or comma separated) keywords to the current set of keywords.
-k keywords
Use the ‘‘type’’ keyword plus the specified (whitespace or comma separated) keywords instead of the current set of keywords.
-p path
Use the file hierarchy rooted in path, instead of the current directory.
-s seed
Display a single checksum to the standard error output that represents all of the files for which the keyword cksum was specified. The checksum is seeded with the specified value.
-X exclude-list
The specified file contains fnmatch(3) patterns matching files to be excluded from the specification, one to a line. If the pattern contains a ‘/’ character, it will be matched against entire pathnames (relative to the starting directory); otherwise, it will be matched against basenames only. No comments are allowed in the exclude-list file.

Specifications are mostly composed of ‘‘keywords’’, i.e., strings that specify values relating to files. No keywords have default values, and if a keyword has no value set, no checks based on it are performed.

Currently supported keywords are as follows:

cksum The checksum of the file using the default algorithm specified by the cksum(1) utility.
flags The file flags as a symbolic name. See chflags(1) for information on these names. If no flags are to be set the string "none" may be used to override the current default.
Ignore any file hierarchy below this file.
gid The file group as a numeric value.
gname The file group as a symbolic name.
The MD5 message digest of the file.
The FIPS 160-1 ("SHA-1") message digest of the file.
The FIPS 180-2 ("SHA-256") message digest of the file.
The RIPEMD160 message digest of the file.
mode The current file’s permissions as a numeric (octal) or symbolic value.
nlink The number of hard links the file is expected to have.
Make sure this file or directory exists but otherwise ignore all attributes.
uid The file owner as a numeric value.
uname The file owner as a symbolic name.
size The size, in bytes, of the file.
link The file the symbolic link is expected to reference.
time The last modification time of the file.
type The type of the file; may be set to any one of the following:

block block special device
char character special device
dir directory
fifo fifo
file regular file
link symbolic link

The default set of keywords are flags, gid, mode, nlink, size, link, time, and uid.

There are four types of lines in a specification.

The first type of line sets a global value for a keyword, and consists of the string ‘‘/set’’ followed by whitespace, followed by sets of keyword/value pairs, separated by whitespace. Keyword/value pairs consist of a keyword, followed by an equals sign (‘‘=’’), followed by a value, without whitespace characters. Once a keyword has been set, its value remains unchanged until either reset or unset.

The second type of line unsets keywords and consists of the string ‘‘/unset’’, followed by whitespace, followed by one or more keywords, separated by whitespace.

The third type of line is a file specification and consists of a file name, followed by whitespace, followed by zero or more whitespace separated keyword/value pairs. The file name may be preceded by whitespace characters. The file name may contain any of the standard file name matching characters (‘‘[’’, ‘‘]’’, ‘‘?’’ or ‘‘*’’), in which case files in the hierarchy will be associated with the first pattern that they match.

Each of the keyword/value pairs consist of a keyword, followed by an equals sign (‘‘=’’), followed by the keyword’s value, without whitespace characters. These values override, without changing, the global value of the corresponding keyword.

All paths are relative. Specifying a directory will cause subsequent files to be searched for in that directory hierarchy. Which brings us to the last type of line in a specification: a line containing only the string ".." causes the current directory path to ascend one level.

Empty lines and lines whose first non-whitespace character is a hash mark (‘‘#’’) are ignored.

The mtree utility exits with a status of 0 on success, 1 if any error occurred, and 2 if the file hierarchy did not match the specification. A status of 2 is converted to a status of 0 if the -U option is used.


system specification directory


.Ex -std


To detect system binaries that have been ‘‘trojan horsed’’, it is recommended that mtree -K sha256digest be run on the file systems, and a copy of the results stored on a different machine, or, at least, in encrypted form. The output file itself should be digested using the sha256(1) utility. Then, periodically, mtree and sha256(1) should be run against the on-line specifications. While it is possible for the bad guys to change the on-line specifications to conform to their modified binaries, it is believed to be impractical for them to create a modified specification which has the same SHA-256 digest as the original.

The -d and -u options can be used in combination to create directory hierarchies for distributions and other such things; the files in /etc/mtree were used to create almost all directories in this
.Fx distribution.


chflags(1), chgrp(1), chmod(1), cksum(1), md5(1), stat(2), fts(3), md5(3), chown(8)



Created by Blin Media, 2008-2013