Introducing NIO.2 (JSR 203) Part 3: File System Attributes and Permissions support in NIO.2

In two previous entries I covered Introducing NIO.2 (JSR 203) Part 1: What are new features? and Introducing NIO.2 (JSR 203) Part 2: The Basics In this entry I will discuss Attributes introduced in NIO.2. Using attributes we can read platform specific attributes of an element in the file system. For example to hide a file system in DOS file system or to check the last access date of a file in a UNIX machine.

Using NIO.2 we can check which attributes are supported in the platform we are running on and then we can decide how to deal with the available attributes. Following sample code shows how we can detect the available attributes and then how to manipulate them.

  FileSystem fs = FileSystems.getDefault();
  Path p = fs.getPath("/home/masoud/");
 //checking available attributes:
  Set<String> supportedViews = fs.supportedFileAttributeViews();
 //We always have at least one member in the set, the basic view.
  BasicFileAttributes ba = p.getFileAttributeView(BasicFileAttributeView.class, LinkOption.NOFOLLOW_LINKS).readAttributes();
 //Printing some basic attributes
   System.out.println(p.toString() + " last access:  " + ba.lastAccessTime());
   System.out.println(p.toString() + " last modified " + ba.lastModifiedTime());
        // As I know I am in NIX machine I access the unix attributes.
        // If I didnt I should have iterate over the set to determine which
        // attributes are supported
        if (supportedViews.contains("unix")) {
            PosixFileAttributes pat = Attributes.readPosixFileAttributes(p, LinkOption.NOFOLLOW_LINKS);

I placed plethora of comments on the code so reading and understanding it get easier.

In the next snippet we will see how we can read permissions of file system element. The first step in checking permissions is using the checkAccess method as shown below. the method throw an exception if the permission is not present or it will execute with no exception if the permission is present.

 FileSystem fs = FileSystems.getDefault();
 Path p = fs.getPath("/home/masoud/");
    try {
            // A method to check the access permissin
        } catch (IOException ex) {
            Logger.getLogger(perm.class.getName()).log(Level.SEVERE, null, ex);

        // Extracting all permissions of a file and iterating over them.
        //I know that I am dealing with NIX fs so I go directly with that attributes
        // otherwise we should check which attributes are supported and then we can
        // use them.

        PosixFileAttributes patts = Attributes.readPosixFileAttributes(p, LinkOption.NOFOLLOW_LINKS);
        Set<PosixFilePermission> st = patts.permissions();
        for (Iterator<PosixFilePermission> it = st.iterator(); it.hasNext();) {

        // Using PosixFilePermissions to convert permissions to different representations

As you can see in the code we can use the helper class to convert the permission set to a simpl OS represeted permission of the element. for example the set can be translated to rwx——  if the file has owner read, write and execute permissions attached to it. The helper calss can convert the os represenation of the permission to the permissions set for later use in other nio classess or methods. In the next entry I will conver more on permissions and security by tackling the Access Control List (ACL) support in the nio.2

Introducing NIO.2 (JSR 203) Part 2: The Basics

In this part we will discuss the basic classes that we will work with them to have file system operations like copying a file, dealing with symbolic links, deleting a file, and so on. I will write a separate entry to introduce classes which are new to Java 7 for dealing with streams and file contents, watching service and directory tree walking. If you want to know what are new features in Java SE 7 for dealing with IO take a look at   Introducing NIO.2 (JSR 203) Part 1: What are new features?

Before NIO.2, dealing with file system was mainly done using the File class and no other base class was available. In NIO.2 it there are some new classes at our disposal to take advantage of their existence to do our job.

FileSystems: Everything starts with this factory class. We use this class to get an instance of the FileSystem we want to work on. The nio.2 provides a SPI to developed support for new file systems. For example an in-memory file system, a ZIP file system and so on. Following two methods are most important methods in FileSystems class.

  1. The getDefault() returns the default file system available to the JVM. Usually the operating system default files system.
  2. The getFileSystem(URI uri) returns a file system from the set of available file system providers that match the given uir schema.

Path: This is the abstract class which provides us with all File system functionalities we may need to perform over a file, a directory or a link.

FileStore: This class represents the underplaying storage. For example /dev/sda2 in *NIX machines and I think c: in windows machines. We can access the storage attributes using  FileStoreSpaceAttributes object. Available space, empty space and so on.

Following two sample codes shows how to copy a file and then how to copy it.

public class Main {

    public static void main(String[] args) {

        try {
            Path sampleFile = FileSystems.getDefault().getPath("/home/masoud/sample.txt");
            sampleFile.createFile(); // create an empty file
            sampleFile.copyTo(FileSystems.getDefault().getPath("/home/masoud/sample2.txt"), StandardCopyOption.COPY_ATTRIBUTES.REPLACE_EXISTING);
            // Creating a link
            Path dir = FileSystems.getDefault().getPath("/home/masoud/dir");
        } catch (IOException ex) {
            Logger.getLogger(Main.class.getName()).log(Level.SEVERE, null, ex);

And the next sample shows how we can use the FileStore class. In this sample we get the underlying store for a file and examined its attributes. We can an iterator over all available storages using FileSystem.getFileStores() method and examine all of them in a loop.

 public class Main {

    public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
        long aMegabyte = 1024 * 1024;
        FileSystem fs = FileSystems.getDefault();
        Path sampleFile = fs.getPath("/home/masoud/sample.txt");
        FileStore fstore = sampleFile.getFileStore();
        FileStoreSpaceAttributes attrs = Attributes.readFileStoreSpaceAttributes(fstore);
        long total = attrs.totalSpace() / aMegabyte;
        long used = (attrs.totalSpace() - attrs.unallocatedSpace()) / aMegabyte;
        long avail = attrs.usableSpace() / aMegabyte;
        System.out.format("%-20s %12s %12s %12s%n", "Device", "Total Space(MiB)", "Used(MiB)", "Availabile(MiB)");
        System.out.format("%-20s %12d %12d %12d%n", fstore, total, used, avail);


In next entry I will discuss how we can manage file attributes along with discussing the security features of the nio.2 file system.