Directories with 2million files

Oliver Fromme olli at
Wed Apr 21 09:17:18 PDT 2004

Tim Robbins <tjr at> wrote:
 > On Wed, Apr 21, 2004 at 08:42:53AM -0500, Eric Anderson wrote:
 > > First, let me say that I am impressed (but not shocked) - FreeBSD 
 > > quietly handled my building of a directory with 2055476 files in it.  
 > > I'm not sure if there is a limit to this number, but at least we know it 
 > > works to 2million.  I'm running 5.2.1-RELEASE.
 > > 
 > > However, several tools seem to choke on that many files - mainly ls and 
 > > du.  Find works just fine.  Here's what my directory looks like (from 
 > > the parent):
 > > 
 > > drwxr-xr-x   2 anderson  anderson  50919936 Apr 21 08:25 data
 > > 
 > > and when I cd into that directory, and do an ls:
 > > 
 > > $ ls -al | wc -l
 > > ls: fts_read: Cannot allocate memory
 > >       0
 > The problem here is likely to be that ls is trying to store all the
 > filenames in memory in order to sort them. Try using the -f option
 > to disable sorting. If you really do need a sorted list of filenames,
 > pipe the output through 'sort'.

I think it will still try to read everything into memory
first, in order to calculate column widths for "ls -l"

I would try something like this:
$ ls -f | xargs ls -ld

Or, if that still fails:
$ find . -maxdepth 1 | xargs ls -ld


Oliver Fromme, secnetix GmbH & Co KG, Oettingenstr. 2, 80538 München
Any opinions expressed in this message may be personal to the author
and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of secnetix in any way.

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