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1 How to Read This Manual

This manual is incomplete: No attempt is made to explain basic file concepts in a way suitable for novices. Thus, if you are interested, please get involved in improving this manual. The entire free software community will benefit.

This manual was originally derived from the Unix man pages in the distribution, which were written by Ben Asselstine. What you are reading now is the authoritative documentation for the fileschanged program. The man pages will be maintained but will not be as valuable of a resource as this document is.

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2 Copying this manual

Version 1.2, November 2002
     Copyright © 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
     51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301, USA
     Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
     of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

    The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document free in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

    This License is a kind of “copyleft”, which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free software.

    We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.


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    You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the Document are reproduced in all copies, and that you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of this License. You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute. However, you may accept compensation in exchange for copies. If you distribute a large enough number of copies you must also follow the conditions in section 3.

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    If you publish printed copies (or copies in media that commonly have printed covers) of the Document, numbering more than 100, and the Document's license notice requires Cover Texts, you must enclose the copies in covers that carry, clearly and legibly, all these Cover Texts: Front-Cover Texts on the front cover, and Back-Cover Texts on the back cover. Both covers must also clearly and legibly identify you as the publisher of these copies. The front cover must present the full title with all words of the title equally prominent and visible. You may add other material on the covers in addition. Copying with changes limited to the covers, as long as they preserve the title of the Document and satisfy these conditions, can be treated as verbatim copying in other respects.

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    It is requested, but not required, that you contact the authors of the Document well before redistributing any large number of copies, to give them a chance to provide you with an updated version of the Document.


    You may copy and distribute a Modified Version of the Document under the conditions of sections 2 and 3 above, provided that you release the Modified Version under precisely this License, with the Modified Version filling the role of the Document, thus licensing distribution and modification of the Modified Version to whoever possesses a copy of it. In addition, you must do these things in the Modified Version:

    1. Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title distinct from that of the Document, and from those of previous versions (which should, if there were any, be listed in the History section of the Document). You may use the same title as a previous version if the original publisher of that version gives permission.
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    You may combine the Document with other documents released under this License, under the terms defined in section 4 above for modified versions, provided that you include in the combination all of the Invariant Sections of all of the original documents, unmodified, and list them all as Invariant Sections of your combined work in its license notice, and that you preserve all their Warranty Disclaimers.

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    You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.

    You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.


    A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an “aggregate” if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.

    If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document, then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.


    Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.

    If a section in the Document is Entitled “Acknowledgements”, “Dedications”, or “History”, the requirement (section 4) to Preserve its Title (section 1) will typically require changing the actual title.


    You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Document except as expressly provided for under this License. Any other attempt to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Document is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.


    The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.

    Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License “or any later version” applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation.

ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

       Copyright (C)  year  your name.
       Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
       under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
       or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
       with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
       Texts.  A copy of the license is included in the section entitled ``GNU
       Free Documentation License''.

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the “with...Texts.” line with this:

         with the Invariant Sections being list their titles, with
         the Front-Cover Texts being list, and with the Back-Cover Texts
         being list.

If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.

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3 Overview

The fileschanged utility is a FAM (File Alteration Monitor) client. From the command-line it monitors sets of files and shows you when they change. You can use fileschanged in shell scripts to take action when monitored files become altered. In it's simplest form, you can give fileschanged filenames to monitor from stdin, and it will report when those files have changed via stdout. You can stop fileschanged from monitoring files by pressing CTRL-C. In a more complex usage, fileschanged can monitor command-line specified files recursively, while following symbolic links, while staying on the current filesystem, and reporting deleted files as well as created and changed files that haven't been written to for 2 seconds. This software is protected by the GNU General Public License, so users are free to share and change it.

GNU fileschanged was written by Ben Asselstine.

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4 Sample Output

Here are some realistic examples of running fileschanged.

Try the command `fileschanged -r ~/' . Using this command you can monitor all of the files in your home directory and below. The -r means to monitor subdirectories of any specified directories.


In this example, two files were altered in my (Ben's) home directory after the fileschanged command was executed. When my mbox file changes, I know I have mail. When my .xsession-file changes I know that something has gone wrong with X, or there are some warnings that I want to know about. fileschanged will continue to run until you interrupt it by pressing CTRL-C.

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5 Invoking fileschanged

This is the output of the command `fileschanged --help':

Usage: fileschanged [OPTION...] [FILE]... Monitors FILEs for alterations. Display the filenames of FILEs that were created, changed, deleted, started execution or finished executing.

-s, –show=EVENT[,...] Display created, changed, deleted, executing, or executed files (Default is "created,changed") -a, –show-all Display all file events and the associated action -f, –files-to-monitor (Default) Monitor the FILEs on the command line -l, –filelist=FILE Monitor the list of filenames inside FILE -L, –dereference Don't monitor symlinks, monitor what's pointed to -r, –recursive Monitor subdirectories of directories -t, –timeout=N Delay showing changed files for N seconds (Def=2) -p, –display-action Display action when showing altered files -x, –exec=PROG Run PROG when file is altered (PROG action filename) -?, –help give this help list –usage give a short usage message -V, –version print program version

FILEs must exist when monitoring begins, or they will not be monitored.

fileschanged supports the following options:

Report action when reporting altered files. Instead of reporting just the filename, this option forces fileschanged to state the action before the filename. The following is a list of actions that fileschanged can state: created (A), changed (M), deleted (R), started-executing (E), finished-executing (X).
Show filenames when an EVENT happens. Events are: created, changed, deleted, executing, executed, and all. created and changed events are turned on by default if no other events are specified.
Show newly created files. This option is turned on by default. If you are monitoring a directory, and a new file is created inside that directory then this option will ensure that any new files are reported. If a new sub-directory is created inside of a directory that fileschanged is monitoring, it will not be monitored unless you've specified the -r (–recursive) option on the command-line. If this option is used in conjunction with the -C (–show-changed) option then reporting will be delayed until no further writes have been detected. The number of seconds in this delay is specified in the -t (–timeout) option. This option is deprecated. Same as –show=created.
Show modified files. This option is turned on by default. When a file you are monitoring is modified, it will be reported as being changed. The reporting will be delayed until no further writes have been detected. Directory files cannot be monitored with fileschanged. This option is deprecated. Same as –show=changed.
Show deleted files. When a monitored file is deleted or moved it will be reported immediately. This option is deprecated. Same as –show=deleted.
Show executing files. When a monitored file is first executed it will be reported immediately. This option is deprecated. Same as –show=executing.
Show executed files. When a monitored file stops it's execution it will be reported immediately. This option is deprecated. Same as –show=executed.
Monitor the list of files specified on the command line. This option is the default way to specify filenames. fileschanged needs to know what files to monitor for alterations. All files that you specify must exist when fileschanged begins execution or they will not be monitored.
Monitor the list of filenames in FILE. FILE contains a list of absolutely or relatively specified filenames that fileschanged is to monitor. Using this option you can do some interesting things.

i. you can pipe the find command through fileschanged. ii. you can use fileschanged as it's own script. For example you can make a script that looks like:

          #!/usr/bin/fileschanged -l

All files that you specify must exist when fileschanged begins execution or they will not be monitored.

Monitor subdirectories of directories. Monitor files within subdirectories within monitored directories.
-t seconds
Assume changed after N secs of no writes. (Def=2). When a monitored and modified file hasn't been written to for 2 seconds, then report it as changed. The idea here is to detect when a file is finished being written to (eg. finished changing on disk). If you specify this value as 0 then fileschanged will report that the file has been modified upon every disk write. Note: The default 2 seconds is too small for large files, but works well with small files. This option is used in conjunction with the -C (–show-changed) option.
Same as –show=all -p Show when files have been created, changed, deleted, executed, or if a file has finished executing. Along with the filename, show the kind of event.
Run PROG when file is altered (PROG action filename). Will execute `PROG' with the action and filename as parameters whenever that event occurs. Action is one of A, M, R, E or X. Filename is an absolutely specified path to the file.
Don't monitor symlinks, monitor what's pointed to. Use this option to monitor the files that symbolic links point to, instead of monitoring the symlink itself.

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6 Reporting Bugs

If you find a bug in fileschanged, please send electronic mail to benasselstine@gmail.com. Include the version number, which you can find by running `fileschanged --version'. Also include in your message the output that the program produced and the output you expected.

If you have other questions, comments or suggestions about fileschanged, contact the author via electronic mail to benasselstine@gmail.com. The author will try to help you out, although he may not have time to fix your problems.

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Concept Index

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