rename renames a file, moving it between directories if required.
Any other hard links to the file (as created using link(2)) are
If newpath already exists it will be atomically replaced (subject to a
few conditions - see ERRORS below), so that there is no point at which another
process attempting to access newpath will find it missing.
If newpath exists but the operation fails for some reason rename
guarantees to leave an instance of newpath in place.
However, when overwriting there will probably be a window in which both
oldpath and newpath refer to the file being renamed.
If oldpath refers to a symbolic link the link is renamed; if
newpath refers to a symbolic link the link will be overwritten.
Write permission is denied for the directory containing
oldpath or newpath, or, search permission is denied for one
of the directories in the path prefix of oldpath or newpath,
or oldpath is a directory and does not allow write permission
(needed to update the .. entry). (See also
The rename fails because oldpath or newpath
is a directory that is in use by some process (perhaps as current working
directory, or as root directory, or because it was open for reading) or is
in use by the system (for example as mount point), while the system
considers this an error. (Note that there is no requirement to return
EBUSY in such cases - there is nothing wrong with doing the rename anyway
- but it is allowed to return EBUSY if the system cannot otherwise handle
oldpath or newpath points outside your
accessible address space.
The new pathname contained a path prefix of the old, or,
more generally, an attempt was made to make a directory a subdirectory of
newpath is an existing directory, but oldpath
is not a directory.
Too many symbolic links were encountered in resolving
oldpath or newpath.
oldpath already has the maximum number of links to
it, or it was a directory and the directory containing newpath has
the maximum number of links.
oldpath or newpath was too long.
A directory component in oldpath or newpath does not
exist or is a dangling symbolic link.
Insufficient kernel memory was available.
The device containing the file has no room for the new
A component used as a directory in oldpath or
newpath is not, in fact, a directory. Or, oldpath is a
directory, and newpath exists but is not a directory.
ENOTEMPTY or EEXIST
newpath is a non-empty directory, i.e., contains
entries other than "." and "..".
EPERM or EACCES
The directory containing oldpath has the sticky bit
(S_ISVTX) set and the process's effective user ID is neither the
user ID of the file to be deleted nor that of the directory containing it,
and the process is not privileged (Linux: does not have the
CAP_FOWNER capability); or newpath is an existing file and
the directory containing it has the sticky bit set and the process's
effective user ID is neither the user ID of the file to be replaced nor
that of the directory containing it, and the process is not privileged
(Linux: does not have the CAP_FOWNER capability); or the filesystem
containing pathname does not support renaming of the type
The file is on a read-only filesystem.
oldpath and newpath are not on the same
On NFS filesystems, you can not assume that if the operation failed the file was
not renamed. If the server does the rename operation and then crashes, the
retransmitted RPC which will be processed when the server is up again causes a
failure. The application is expected to deal with this. See link(2) for
a similar problem.