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Date:   Wed,  7 Sep 2022 07:16:06 -0400
From:   Jeff Layton <>
Subject: [man-pages RFC PATCH v4] statx, inode: document the new STATX_INO_VERSION field

I'm proposing to expose the inode change attribute via statx [1]. Document
what this value means and what an observer can infer from it changing.

Signed-off-by: Jeff Layton <>

 man2/statx.2 |  8 ++++++++
 man7/inode.7 | 39 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 2 files changed, 47 insertions(+)

v4: add paragraph pointing out the lack of atomicity wrt other changes

I think these patches are racing with another change to add DIO
alignment info to statx. I imagine this will go in after that, so this
will probably need to be respun to account for contextual differences.

What I'm mostly interested in here is getting the sematics and
description of the i_version counter nailed down.

diff --git a/man2/statx.2 b/man2/statx.2
index 0d1b4591f74c..d98d5148a442 100644
--- a/man2/statx.2
+++ b/man2/statx.2
@@ -62,6 +62,7 @@ struct statx {
     __u32 stx_dev_major;   /* Major ID */
     __u32 stx_dev_minor;   /* Minor ID */
     __u64 stx_mnt_id;      /* Mount ID */
+    __u64 stx_ino_version; /* Inode change attribute */
@@ -247,6 +248,7 @@ STATX_BTIME	Want stx_btime
 	It is deprecated and should not be used.
 STATX_MNT_ID	Want stx_mnt_id (since Linux 5.8)
+STATX_INO_VERSION	Want stx_ino_version (DRAFT)
@@ -407,10 +409,16 @@ This is the same number reported by
 .BR name_to_handle_at (2)
 and corresponds to the number in the first field in one of the records in
 .IR /proc/self/mountinfo .
+.I stx_ino_version
+The inode version, also known as the inode change attribute. See
+.BR inode (7)
+for details.
 For further information on the above fields, see
 .BR inode (7).
 .SS File attributes
 .I stx_attributes
diff --git a/man7/inode.7 b/man7/inode.7
index 9b255a890720..8e83836594d8 100644
--- a/man7/inode.7
+++ b/man7/inode.7
@@ -184,6 +184,12 @@ Last status change timestamp (ctime)
 This is the file's last status change timestamp.
 It is changed by writing or by setting inode information
 (i.e., owner, group, link count, mode, etc.).
+Inode version (i_version)
+(not returned in the \fIstat\fP structure); \fIstatx.stx_ino_version\fP
+This is the inode change counter. See the discussion of
+\fBthe inode version counter\fP, below.
 The timestamp fields report time measured with a zero point at the
 .IR Epoch ,
@@ -424,6 +430,39 @@ on a directory means that a file
 in that directory can be renamed or deleted only by the owner
 of the file, by the owner of the directory, and by a privileged
+.SS The inode version counter
+.I statx.stx_ino_version
+field is the inode change counter. Any operation that would result in a
+change to \fIstatx.stx_ctime\fP must result in an increase to this value.
+The value must increase even in the case where the ctime change is not
+evident due to coarse timestamp granularity.
+An observer cannot infer anything from amount of increase about the
+nature or magnitude of the change. If the returned value is different
+from the last time it was checked, then something has made an explicit
+data and/or metadata change to the inode.
+The change to \fIstatx.stx_ino_version\fP is not atomic with respect to the
+other changes in the inode. On a write, for instance, the i_version it usually
+incremented before the data is copied into the pagecache. Therefore it is
+possible to see a new i_version value while a read still shows the old data.
+In the event of a system crash, this value can appear to go backward,
+if it were queried before ever being written to the backing store. If
+the value were then incremented again after restart, then an observer
+could miss noticing a change.
+In order to guard against this, it is recommended to also watch the
+\fIstatx.stx_ctime\fP for changes when watching this value. As long as the
+system clock doesn't jump backward during the crash, an observer can be
+reasonably sure that the i_version and ctime together represent a unique inode
+The i_version is a Linux extension and is not supported by all filesystems.
+The application must verify that the \fISTATX_INO_VERSION\fP bit is set in the
+returned \fIstatx.stx_mask\fP before relying on this field.
 If you need to obtain the definition of the
 .I blkcnt_t

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