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MTREE(8) NetBSD System Manager's Manual MTREE(8)
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mtree -- map a directory hierarchy
mtree [-bCcDdejLlMnPqrStUuWx] [-i | -m] [-E tags] [-F flavor] [-f spec]
[-I tags] [-K keywords] [-k keywords] [-N dbdir] [-O onlyfile]
[-p path] [-R keywords] [-s seed] [-X exclude-file]
The mtree utility compares a file hierarchy against a specification, cre-
ates a specification for a file hierarchy, or modifies a specification.
The default action, if not overridden by command line options, is to com-
pare the file hierarchy rooted in the current directory against a speci-
fication read from the standard input. Messages are written to the stan-
dard output for any files whose characteristics do not match the specifi-
cation, or which are missing from either the file hierarchy or the speci-
The options are as follows:
-b Suppress blank lines before entering and after exiting
-C Convert a specification into a format that's easier to
parse with various tools. The input specification is
read from standard input or from the file given by -f
spec. In the output, each file or directory is repre-
sented using a single line (which might be very long).
The full path name (beginning with ``./'') is always
printed as the first field; -K, -k, and -R can be used
to control which other keywords are printed; -E and -I
can be used to control which files are printed; and
the -S option can be used to sort the output.
-c Print a specification for the file hierarchy originat-
ing at the current working directory (or the directory
provided by -p path) to the standard output. The out-
put is in a style using relative path names.
-D As per -C, except that the path name is always printed
as the last field instead of the first.
-d Ignore everything except directory type files.
-E tags Add the comma separated tags to the ``exclusion''
list. Non-directories with tags which are in the
exclusion list are not printed with -C and -D.
-e Don't complain about files that are in the file hier-
archy, but not in the specification.
-F flavor Set the compatibility flavor of the mtree utility.
The flavor can be one of mtree, freebsd9, or netbsd6.
The default is mtree. The freebsd9 and netbsd6 fla-
vors attempt to preserve output compatibility and com-
mand line option backward compatibility with
FreeBSD 9.0 and NetBSD 6.0 respectively.
-f spec Read the specification from file, instead of from the
If this option is specified twice, the two specifica-
tions are compared to each other rather than to the
file hierarchy. The specifications will be sorted
like output generated using -c. The output format in
this case is somewhat reminiscent of comm(1), having
"in first spec only", "in second spec only", and "dif-
ferent" columns, prefixed by zero, one and two TAB
characters respectively. Each entry in the "differ-
ent" column occupies two lines, one from each specifi-
-I tags Add the comma separated tags to the ``inclusion''
list. Non-directories with tags which are in the
inclusion list are printed with -C and -D. If no
inclusion list is provided, the default is to display
-i If specified, set the schg and/or sappnd flags.
-j Indent the output 4 spaces each time a directory level
is descended when creating a specification with the -c
option. This does not affect either the /set state-
ments or the comment before each directory. It does
however affect the comment before the close of each
directory. This is the equivalent of the -i option in
the FreeBSD version of mtree.
-K keywords Add the specified (whitespace or comma separated) key-
words to the current set of keywords. If `all' is
specified, add all of the other keywords.
-k keywords Use the type keyword plus the specified (whitespace or
comma separated) keywords instead of the current set
of keywords. If `all' is specified, use all of the
other keywords. If the type keyword is not desired,
suppress it with -R type.
-L Follow all symbolic links in the file hierarchy.
-l Do ``loose'' permissions checks, in which more strin-
gent permissions will match less stringent ones. For
example, a file marked mode 0444 will pass a check for
mode 0644. ``Loose'' checks apply only to read, write
and execute permissions -- in particular, if other
bits like the sticky bit or suid/sgid bits are set
either in the specification or the file, exact check-
ing will be performed. This option may not be set at
the same time as the -U or -u option.
-M Permit merging of specification entries with different
types, with the last entry taking precedence.
-m If the schg and/or sappnd flags are specified, reset
these flags. Note that this is only possible with
securelevel less than 1 (i.e., in single user mode or
while the system is running in insecure mode). See
init(8) for information on security levels.
-n Do not emit pathname comments when creating a specifi-
cation. Normally a comment is emitted before each
directory and before the close of that directory when
using the -c option.
-N dbdir Use the user database text file master.passwd and
group database text file group from dbdir, rather than
using the results from the system's getpwnam(3) and
getgrnam(3) (and related) library calls.
-O onlypaths Only include files included in this list of pathnames.
-P Don't follow symbolic links in the file hierarchy,
instead consider the symbolic link itself in any com-
parisons. This is the default.
-p path Use the file hierarchy rooted in path, instead of the
-q Quiet mode. Do not complain when a ``missing'' direc-
tory cannot be created because it already exists.
This occurs when the directory is a symbolic link.
-R keywords Remove the specified (whitespace or comma separated)
keywords from the current set of keywords. If `all'
is specified, remove all of the other keywords.
-r Remove any files in the file hierarchy that are not
described in the specification. Repeating the flag
more than once will attempt to reset all the file
flags via lchflags(2) before attempting to remove the
file in case the file was immutable.
-S When reading a specification into an internal data
structure, sort the entries. Sorting will affect the
order of the output produced by the -C or -D options,
and will also affect the order in which missing
entries are created or reported when a directory tree
is checked against a specification.
The sort order is the same as that used by the -c
option, which is that entries within the same direc-
tory are sorted in the order used by strcmp(3), except
that entries for subdirectories sort after other
entries. By default, if the -S option is not used,
entries within the same directory are collected
together (separated from entries for other directo-
ries), but not sorted.
-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
-t Modify the modified time of existing files, the device
type of devices, and symbolic link targets, to match
-U Same as -u except that a mismatch is not considered to
be an error if it was corrected.
-u Modify the owner, group, permissions, and flags of
existing files, the device type of devices, and sym-
bolic link targets, to match the specification. Cre-
ate any missing directories, devices or symbolic
links. User, group, and permissions must all be spec-
ified for missing directories to be created. Note
that unless the -i option is given, the schg and
sappnd flags will not be set, even if specified. If
-m is given, these flags will be reset. Exit with a
status of 0 on success, 2 if the file hierarchy did
not match the specification, and 1 if any other error
-W Don't attempt to set various file attributes such as
the ownership, mode, flags, or time when creating new
directories or changing existing entries. This option
will be most useful when used in conjunction with -U
-X exclude-file The specified file contains fnmatch(3) patterns match-
ing 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. Comments are permit-
ted in the exclude-file file.
-x Don't descend below mount points in the file hierar-
Specifications are mostly composed of ``keywords'', i.e. strings that
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.
device The device number to use for block or char file types.
The argument must be one of the following forms:
A device with major and minor fields, for an oper-
ating system specified with format. See below for
A device with major, unit, and subunit fields, for
an operating system specified with format. (Cur-
rently this is only supported by the bsdos format.)
Opaque number (as stored on the file system).
The following values for format are recognized: native,
386bsd, 4bsd, bsdos, freebsd, hpux, isc, linux, netbsd,
osf1, sco, solaris, sunos, svr3, svr4, and ultrix.
See mknod(8) for more details.
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. Note that the schg and sappnd flags are treated
specially (see the -i and -m options).
ignore Ignore any file hierarchy below this file.
gid The file group as a numeric value.
gname The file group as a symbolic name.
link The file the symbolic link is expected to reference.
md5 The MD5 cryptographic message digest of the file.
md5digest Synonym for md5.
mode The current file's permissions as a numeric (octal) or
nlink The number of hard links the file is expected to have.
nochange Make sure this file or directory exists but otherwise
ignore all attributes.
optional The file is optional; don't complain about the file if
it's not in the file hierarchy.
Synonym for rmd160.
rmd160 The RMD-160 cryptographic message digest of the file.
rmd160digest Synonym for rmd160.
sha1 The SHA-1 cryptographic message digest of the file.
sha1digest Synonym for sha1.
sha256 The 256-bits SHA-2 cryptographic message digest of the
sha256digest Synonym for sha256.
sha384 The 384-bits SHA-2 cryptographic message digest of the
sha384digest Synonym for sha384.
sha512 The 512-bits SHA-2 cryptographic message digest of the
sha512digest Synonym for sha512.
size The size, in bytes, of the file.
tags Comma delimited tags to be matched with -E and -I. These
may be specified without leading or trailing commas, but
will be stored internally with them.
time The last modification time of the file, in second and
nanoseconds. The value should include a period character
and exactly nine digits after the period.
type The type of the file; may be set to any one of the fol-
block block special device
char character special device
file regular file
link symbolic link
uid The file owner as a numeric value.
uname The file owner as a symbolic name.
The default set of keywords are flags, gid, link, mode, nlink, size,
time, type, and uid.
There are four types of lines in a specification:
1. Set global values for a keyword. This 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.
2. Unset global values for a keyword. This consists of the string
`/unset', followed by whitespace, followed by one or more keywords,
separated by whitespace. If `all' is specified, unset all of the
3. A file specification, consisting of a path name, followed by white-
space, followed by zero or more whitespace separated keyword/value
The path name may be preceded by whitespace characters. The path
name may contain any of the standard path name matching characters
(`[', `]', `?' or `*'), in which case files in the hierarchy will be
associated with the first pattern that they match. mtree uses
strsvis(3) (in VIS_CSTYLE format) to encode path names containing
non-printable characters. Whitespace characters are encoded as `\s'
(space), `\t' (tab), and `\n' (new line). `#' characters in path
names are escaped by a preceding backslash `\' to distinguish them
Each of the keyword/value pairs consist of a keyword, followed by an
equals sign (`='), followed by the keyword's value, without white-
space characters. These values override, without changing, the
global value of the corresponding keyword.
The first path name entry listed must be a directory named `.', as
this ensures that intermixing full and relative path names will work
consistently and correctly. Multiple entries for a directory named
`.' are permitted; the settings for the last such entry override
those of the existing entry.
A path name that contains a slash (`/') that is not the first char-
acter will be treated as a full path (relative to the root of the
tree). All parent directories referenced in the path name must
exist. The current directory path used by relative path names will
be updated appropriately. Multiple entries for the same full path
are permitted if the types are the same (unless -M is given, in
which case the types may differ); in this case the settings for the
last entry take precedence.
A path name that does not contain a slash will be treated as a rela-
tive path. Specifying a directory will cause subsequent files to be
searched for in that directory hierarchy.
4. A line containing only the string `..' which causes the current
directory path (used by relative paths) 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.
/etc/mtree system specification directory
To detect system binaries that have been ``trojan horsed'', it is recom-
mended that mtree be run on the file systems, and a copy of the results
stored on a different machine, or, at least, in encrypted form. The seed
for the -s option should not be an obvious value and the final checksum
should not be stored on-line under any circumstances! Then, periodi-
cally, mtree should be run against the on-line specifications and the
final checksum compared with the previous value. While it is possible
for the bad guys to change the on-line specifications to conform to their
modified binaries, it shouldn't be possible for them to make it produce
the same final checksum value. If the final checksum value changes, the
off-line copies of the specification can be used to detect which of the
binaries have actually been modified.
The -d option can be used in combination with -U or -u to create direc-
tory hierarchies for, for example, distributions.
The compatibility shims provided by the -F option are incomplete by
design. Known limitations are described below.
The freebsd9 flavor retains the default handling of lookup failures for
the uname and group keywords by replacing them with appropriate uid and
gid keywords rather than failing and reporting an error. The related -w
flag is a no-op rather than causing a warning to be printed and no key-
word to be emitted. The latter behavior is not emulated as it is poten-
tially dangerous in the face of /set statements.
The netbsd6 flavor does not replicate the historical bug that reported
time as seconds.nanoseconds without zero padding nanosecond values less
chflags(1), chgrp(1), chmod(1), cksum(1), stat(2), fnmatch(3), fts(3),
strsvis(3), chown(8), mknod(8)
The mtree utility appeared in 4.3BSD-Reno. The optional keyword appeared
in NetBSD 1.2. The -U option appeared in NetBSD 1.3. The flags and md5
keywords, and -i and -m options appeared in NetBSD 1.4. The device,
rmd160, sha1, tags, and all keywords, -D, -E, -I, -L, -l, -N, -P, -R, -W,
and -X options, and support for full paths appeared in NetBSD 1.6. The
sha256, sha384, and sha512 keywords appeared in NetBSD 3.0. The -S
option appeared in NetBSD 6.0.
NetBSD 9.2 January 22, 2015 NetBSD 9.2