I know that this is not something that should ever be done, but is there a way to use the slash character that normally separates directories within a filename in Linux?

Solution 1

The answer is that you can't, unless your filesystem has a bug. Here's why:

There is a system call for renaming your file defined in fs/namei.c called renameat:

SYSCALL_DEFINE4(renameat, int, olddfd, const char __user *, oldname,
                int, newdfd, const char __user *, newname)

When the system call gets invoked, it does a path lookup (do_path_lookup) on the name. Keep tracing this, and we get to link_path_walk which has this:

static int link_path_walk(const char *name, struct nameidata *nd)
       struct path next;
       int err;
       unsigned int lookup_flags = nd->flags;

       while (*name=='/')
       if (!*name)
              return 0;

This code applies to any file system. What's this mean? It means that if you try to pass a parameter with an actual '/' character as the name of the file using traditional means, it will not do what you want. There is no way to escape the character. If a filesystem "supports" this, it's because they either:

  • Use a unicode character or something that looks like a slash but isn't.
  • They have a bug.

Furthermore, if you did go in and edit the bytes to add a slash character into a file name, bad things would happen. That's because you could never refer to this file by name :( since anytime you did, Linux would assume you were referring to a nonexistent directory. Using the 'rm *' technique would not work either, since bash simply expands that to the filename. Even rm -rf wouldn't work, since a simple strace reveals how things go on under the hood (shortened):

$ ls testdir
myfile2 out
$ strace -vf rm -rf testdir
unlinkat(3, "myfile2", 0)               = 0
unlinkat(3, "out", 0)                   = 0
fcntl(3, F_GETFD)                       = 0x1 (flags FD_CLOEXEC)
close(3)                                = 0
unlinkat(AT_FDCWD, "testdir", AT_REMOVEDIR) = 0

Notice that these calls to unlinkat would fail because they need to refer to the files by name.

Solution 2

You could use a Unicode character that displays as / (for example the fraction slash), assuming your filesystem supports it.

Solution 3

It depends on what filesystem you are using. Of some of the more popular ones:

Solution 4

Only with an agreed-upon encoding. For example, you could agree that % will be encoded as %% and that %2F will mean a /. All the software that accessed this file would have to understand the encoding.

Solution 5

The short answer is: No, you can't. It's a necessary prohibition because of how the directory structure is defined.

And, as mentioned, you can display a unicode character that "looks like" a slash, but that's as far as you get.

Solution 6

In general it's a bad idea to try to use "bad" characters in a file name at all; even if you somehow manage it, it tends to make it hard to use the file later. The filesystem separator is flat-out not going to work at all, so you're going to need to pick an alternative method.

Have you considered URL-encoding the URL then using that as the filename? The result should be fine as a filename, and it's easy to reconstruct the name from the encoded version.

Another option is to create an index - create the output filename using whatever method you like - sequentially-numbered names, SHA1 hashes, whatever - then write a file with the generated filename/URL pair. You can save that into a hash and use it to do a URL-to-filename lookup or vice-versa with the reversed version of the hash, and you can write it out and reload it later if needed.

Solution 7

The short answer is: you must not. The long answer is, you probably can or it depends on where you are viewing it from and in which layer you are working with.

Since the question has Unix tag in it, I am going to answer for Unix.

As mentioned in other answers that, you must not use forward slashes in a filename.

However, in MacOS you can create a file with forward slashes / by:

# avoid doing it at all cost
touch 'foo:bar'

Now, when you see this filename from terminal you will see it as foo:bar

But, if you see it from finder: you will see finder converted it as foo/bar

Same thing can be done the other way round, if you create a file from finder with forward slashes in it like /foobar, there will be a conversion done in the background. As a result, you will see :foobar in terminal but the other way round when viewed from finder.

So, : is valid in the unix layer, but it is translated to or from / in the Mac layers like Finder window, GUI. : the colon is used as the separator in HFS paths and the slash / is used as the separator in POSIX paths

So there is a two-way translation happening, depending on which layer you are working with.

See more details here:

Solution 8

You can have a filename with a / in Linux and Unix. This is a very old question, but surprisingly nobody has said it in almost 10 years since the question was asked.

Every Unix and Linux system has the root directory named /. A directory is just a special kind of file. Symbolic links, character devices, etc are also special kinds of files. See here for an in depth discussion.

You can't create any other files with a /, but you certainly have one -- and a very important one at that.