file(1) should have a -s flag to process special files
GNU's file(1) has a -s flag to read block and char devices to identify their contents.
Updated by Josef Sipek about 8 years ago
You are correct. I incorrectly labeled it as GNU file.
I wonder if it would make sense to just drop file from illumos-gate and let distros chose what they want. The file Linux and BSDs use, or dig up our antiquated source and compile & package it themselves.