rename function renames the file oldname to
newname. The file formerly accessible under the name
oldname is afterwards accessible as newname instead. (If
the file had any other names aside from oldname, it continues to
have those names.)
The directory containing the name newname must be on the same file
system as the directory containing the name oldname.
One special case for
rename is when oldname and
newname are two names for the same file. The consistent way to
handle this case is to delete oldname. However, in this case
POSIX requires that
rename do nothing and report success—which
is inconsistent. We don't know what your operating system will do.
If oldname is not a directory, then any existing file named
newname is removed during the renaming operation. However, if
newname is the name of a directory,
rename fails in this
If oldname is a directory, then either newname must not
exist or it must name a directory that is empty. In the latter case,
the existing directory named newname is deleted first. The name
newname must not specify a subdirectory of the directory
oldname which is being renamed.
One useful feature of
rename is that the meaning of newname
changes “atomically” from any previously existing file by that name to
its new meaning (i.e. the file that was called oldname). There is
no instant at which newname is non-existent “in between” the old
meaning and the new meaning. If there is a system crash during the
operation, it is possible for both names to still exist; but
newname will always be intact if it exists at all.
rename fails, it returns
-1. In addition to the usual
file name errors (see File Name Errors), the following
errno error conditions are defined for this function:
- One of the directories containing newname or oldname
refuses write permission; or newname and oldname are
directories and write permission is refused for one of them.
- A directory named by oldname or newname is being used by
the system in a way that prevents the renaming from working. This includes
directories that are mount points for filesystems, and directories
that are the current working directories of processes.
- The directory newname isn't empty. The GNU system always returns
ENOTEMPTY for this, but some other systems return
- oldname is a directory that contains newname.
- newname is a directory but the oldname isn't.
- The parent directory of newname would have too many links
- The file oldname doesn't exist.
- The directory that would contain newname has no room for another
entry, and there is no space left in the file system to expand it.
- The operation would involve writing to a directory on a read-only file
- The two file names newname and oldname are on different