fswatch – Monitors Files and Directory Changes or Modifications in Linux

fswatch is a cross-platform, file change monitor that gets notification alerts when the contents of the specified files or directories are altered or modified.

It executes four types of monitors on different operating systems such as:

  1. A monitor build on the File System Events API of Apple OS X.
  2. A monitor based on kqueue, a notification interface present in FreeBSD 4.1 also supported on many *BSD systems, OS X inclusive.
  3. A monitor based on File Events Notification API of the Solaris kernel plus its spin-offs.
  4. A monitor based on inotify, a kernel subsystem that shows file system modifications to apps.
  5. A monitor based on ReadDirectoryChangesW, a Windows API that records alters to a directory.
  6. A monitor that regularly check that status of file system, keeps file modification times in memory, and manually determine file system changes (which works anywhere, where stat can be used).

Features of fswatch

  1. Supports several OS-specific APIs
  2. Allows recursive directory monitoring
  3. Performs path filtering using including and excluding regular expressions
  4. Supports customizable record format
  5. Additionally, it supports periodic idle events

How To Install fswatch in Linux Systems

Unfortunately, fswatch package is not available to install from the default system repositories in any Linux distributions. The only way to install the latest version of fswatch is to build from source tarball as show in the following installation instructions.

First grab the latest fswatch tarball using following wget command and install it as shown:

$ wget https://github.com/emcrisostomo/fswatch/releases/download/1.9.3/fswatch-1.9.3.tar.gz
$ tar -xvzf fswatch-1.9.3.tar.gz
$ cd fswatch-1.9.3
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install 

Important: Make sure you’ve GNU GCC (C and C++ Compiler) and Development Tools (build-essential on Debian/Ubuntu) installed on the system, before you compile fswatch from source. If not, install it using following command on your respective Linux distributions..

# yum group install 'Development Tools'		[On CentOS/RHEL]
# dnf group install 'Development Tools'		[On Fedora 22+ Versions]
$ sudo apt-get install build-essential          [On Debian/Ubuntu Versions]

On Debian/Ubuntu distributions, you might get following error while executing fswatch command..

fswatch: error while loading shared libraries: libfswatch.so.6: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

To fix it, you need to execute the command below, this will help refresh the links and cache to the dynamic libraries before you can start using fswatch.

$ sudo ldconfig

How do I use fswatch on Linux?

The general syntax for running fswatch is:

$ fswatch [option] [path]

On Linux, it is recommended that you use the default inotify monitor, you can list available monitors by employing the -M or - list-monitors option:

$ fswatch -M
$ fswatch --list-monitors

fswatch - List Monitors

The command below enables you to watch the changes in the current directory (/home/tecmint), with events being delivered to standard output every 4 seconds.

The -l or –-latency option allows you to set the latency in seconds, the default being 1 second.

$ fswatch -l 4 .

fswatch - Monitor Home Directory Changes

The next command monitors changes to the /var/log/auth.log file every 5 seconds:

$ fswatch -l 5 /var/log/auth.log

Using -t or --timestamp option prints the time stamp for every event, to print the time in UTC format, employ -u or --utf-time option. You can as well format time using -f or --format-time format option:

$ fswatch --timestamp /var/log/auth.log

Next, -x or --event-flags tells fswatch to print the event flags along side the event path. You can use –event-field-seperator option to print events using the particular separator.

$ fswatch --events-flags ~ /var/log/auth.log

To print the numeric value of an event indicating changes in your home directory and /var/log/auth.log file, use -n or --numeric option as below:

$ fswatch --numeric ~ /var/log/auth.log 

Perhaps you can look through the fswatch man page for detailed usage options and information:

$ man fswatch
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Pyinotify – Monitor Filesystem Changes in Real-Time in Linux

Pyinotify is a simple yet useful Python module for monitoring filesystems changes in real-time in Linux.

As a System administrator, you can use it to monitor changes happening to a directory of interest such as web directory or application data storage directory and beyond.

It depends on inotify (a Linux kernel feature incorporated in kernel 2.6.13), which is an event-driven notifier, its notifications are exported from kernel space to user space via three system calls.

The purpose of pyinotify is to bind the three system calls, and support an implementation on top of them providing a common and abstract means to manipulate those functionalities.

In this article, we will show you how to install and use pyinotify in Linux to monitor filesystem changes or modifications in real-time.

Dependencies

In order to use pyinotify, your system must be running:

  1. Linux kernel 2.6.13 or higher
  2. Python 2.4 or higher

How to Install Pyinotify in Linux

First start by checking the kernel and Python versions installed on your system as follows:

# uname -r 
# python -V

Once dependencies are met, we will use pip to install pynotify. In most Linux distributions, Pip is already installed if you’re using Python 2 >=2.7.9 or Python 3 >=3.4 binaries downloaded from python.org, otherwise, install it as follows:

# yum install python-pip      [On CentOS based Distros]
# apt-get install python-pip  [On Debian based Distros]
# dnf install python-pip      [On Fedora 22+]

Now, install pyinotify like so:

# pip install pyinotify

It will install available version from the default repository, if you are looking to have a latest stable version of pyinotify, consider cloning it’s git repository as shown.

# git clone https://github.com/seb-m/pyinotify.git
# cd pyinotify/
# ls
# python setup.py install

How to Use pyinotify in Linux

In the example below, I am monitoring any changes to the user tecmint’s home (/home/tecmint) directory as root user (logged in via ssh) as shown in the screenshot:

# python -m pyinotify -v /home/tecmint

Monitor Directory Changes

Next, we will keep a watch for any changes to the web directory (/var/www/html/tecmint.com):

# python -m pyinotify -v /var/www/html/tecmint.com

To exit the program, simply hit [Ctrl+C].

Note: When you run pyinotify without specifying any directory to monitor, the /tmp directory is considered by default.