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7.1 Leaf Optimisation

Files in Unix file systems have a link count which indicates how many names point to the same inode. Directories in Unix filssytems have a .. entry which functions as a hard link to the parent directory and a . entry which functions as a link to the directory itself. The .. entry of the root directory also points to the root. This means that find can deduce the number of subdirectories a directory has, simply by subtracting 2 from the directory's link count. This allows find the calls to stat which would otherwise be needed to discover which directory entries are subdirectories.

File systems which don't have these semantics should simply return a value less than 2 in the st_nlinks member of struct stat in response to a successful call to stat.

If you are building find for a system on which the value of st_nlinks is unreliable, you can specify --disable-leaf-optimisation to configure to prevent this assumption being made.