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Manual Reference Pages  -  ESNIPER (1)


esniper - a lightweight ebay sniping tool




esniper [-bdhHimnPrUv] [-c conf_file] [-l logdir] [-p proxy] [-q quantity] [-s secs|now] [-u user] (auction_file | [ auction price ... ])


esniper is a lightweight ebay sniping tool. It doesn’t have a lot of features, and that is by design.

Auctions are specified on the command line, using the auction number and your bid price. Multiple auctions can be bid on by specifying more auctions and bid prices. esniper stops when the desired quantity has been won (default is 1).

You can use an auction file instead of specifying auctions on the command line. See the AUCTION FILE section below for more details.


-b Enable batch mode. The corresponding configuration option is batch, default value is false. In batch mode, esniper never prompts for password and/or username. If the password or username cannot be determined from options or read from configuration or auction files, esniper will fail.
-c Specifies a configuration file to read. All options can be set either by command-line flags or in the configuration file. See the CONFIGURATION FILE section for details. The default configuration file is $HOME/.esniper (or $USERPROFILE/My Documents/.esniper in Windows).
-d Enable debug mode. The corresponding configuration option is debug, default value is false. Log files are named esniper.<auction_num>.log and esniper.log, and are written to the current working directory. If the -l option or logdir configuration option is used, log files are written to the specified directory.
-h Show command line option help.
-H Show configuration and auction file help.
-i Print information on given auctions and exit.
-l Set the directory where log files will be written. The corresponding configuration option is logdir, default value is the current working directory, or if an auction file is specified the directory of the auction file. The directory must exist and be writeable. Log files are written when the -d option is used.
-m Print user’s my eBay watched items list and exit. The user’s myEbay watched items list must use the default column ordering.
-n Do not bid. The corresponding configuration option is bid, default value is true. Useful for debugging, it exercises most of esniper except actually placing bids. It is also be useful for checking the status of an auction, without accidentally placing a bid.
-p Specify an http proxy to use. The corresponding configuration option is proxy, default value is the value of the http_proxy environment variable. The proxy should be of the form http://host:port/.
-P Prompt the user for their ebay password. This overrides the password set in any configuration or auction file.
-q Set the quantity. The corresponding configuration option is quantity, default value is 1. esniper will quit when it has won enough items.
-r Do not reduce quantity on startup for items you have already won. The corresponding configuration option is reduce, default value is true.
-s Set the bidding time, specified as now, or seconds before the end of an auction. If now is used, bids will be placed immediately. The corresponding configuration option is seconds, default value is 10 seconds. You should snipe late enough in an auction to prevent a manual bidder to update their bid, but before other snipes. In case two bids are within one bid increment of each other, the first bid placed wins.
-u Set the ebay username. The corresponding configuration option is username, there is no default value.
-U Prompt the user for their ebay username.
-v Print version and exit.


Most command-line options can also be set in a configuration file. The advantage of using a configuration file is that you can set all of you options once and not have to enter them on the command line every time you run esniper.

A configuration file consists of option lines, in the format "option=value", blank lines, and comments. Option names are listed above with their corresponding command-line flags. Comments begin with #.

One configuration file option that doesn’t have a corresponding command-line flag is password. The password option allows you to set your eBay password. If you store your eBay password in a configuration file, you should ensure that the configuration file can be read only by you.

The default configuration file is $HOME/.esniper (or $USERPROFILE/My Documents/.esniper in Windows). If an auction file is used, esniper will also attempt to read .esniper from the directory that contains the auction file; options set in this configuration file will override options set in the user’s default configuration file. However, if the -c command line option is used, then only the configuration file specified by the -c command line option is read.

Options specified on the command line override corresponding options set in an auction file, and options set in an auction file override options set in any configuration file.


An auction file is similar to a configuration file, but it also has one or more auction lines. An auction line contains an auction number, optionally followed by a bid price. If no bid price is given, the auction number uses the bid price of the first prior auction line that contains a bid price.

If an auction file is specified and the -c option isn’t used, esniper attempts to read .esniper from the directory where the auction file is located. See the CONFIGURATION FILE section for more details.


An example of a configuration file:

# A configuration file contains option settings,
# blank lines, and comments (begin with #).  The
# default configuration file is $HOME/.esniper, and
# if you specify an auction file, .esniper in the
# auction file’s directory as well.  If you specify a
# configuration file using the -c command-line option,
# then that configuration file will be the only one
# read.
# If you set your password in a configuration file
# and you are on a unix system, you should be the
# owner of the file, and you should set the
# permissions so that it is readable only by the
# owner.
# Here are all the options.  Note that if the
# default (as defined in esniper -H) is fine, you
# don’t need to specify it in a configuration file.

# boolean parameters can be set to: #       true, y, yes, on, 1, enabled #       false, n, no, off, 0, disabled batch = false bid = yes debug = enabled reduce = y

# Note: it would be nice if logdir could use ~myuser, # or $HOME. Perhaps in a future version. logdir = /export/home/myuser/esniperlogs password = myebaypassword # Note: proxy authentication not yet supported proxy = username = myebayusername

# Note: quantity is usually set in an auction file quantity = 1 # Note: seconds can also be "now", if you want to # bid immediately seconds = 10

An example of an auction file:

# An auction file may contain any line that is valid
# in a configuration file (see sample_config.txt for
# details), plus it may also have auction lines.
# An auction line contains an auction number, optionally
# followed by a price.  If a price isn’t specified, the
# price used is the same as the previous auction line.
# You should have one auction file for each type of item
# you are bidding on, so that you can change the quantity,
# username, or other options to suit the item you are
# bidding on.  For instance, you may want to buy up to 10
# laser print cartridges, but only one digital camera.

# Sample auction file for laser printer cartridges

# I’d like 10 of them, and my target price is $50 quantity = 10

# seller surpluslaserjunk, shipping $15, # questionable reputation (so I’ll only pay $40 total) 9298389738 25 9872749829 9872972987 9087289973

# seller highqualityprintersupplies, shipping $8, # excellent reputation 9982309829 42 9827349827

# seller nonbusinesshomeseller, shipping not mentioned # (assume $10), good reputation 9287398473 35

# seller lasersuppliesforcheap, lousy reputation, # don’t buy!!! #9239889372 0


http_proxy The default http proxy. The -p command-line option and proxy configuration option override this setting.
USERPROFILE Windows user’s home directory. If no configuration file is specified, esniper tries to read the file My Documents/.esniper under the USERPROFILE directory. Note: esniper for Windows 95, 98 and Me is compiled under cygwin, a unix-like environment for Windows. This version of esniper uses the HOME environment variable, as described below.
HOME Unix user’s home directory. If no configuration file is specified, esniper tries to read the file .esniper in this directory.


eBay likes to change their website often. Some of these changes will break esniper. If esniper doesn’t work for you, please make sure you have the most recent version. You can check the version of esniper you are using by running esniper with the -v option. Updates to esniper are available at

If you are running the most current version and you are still encountering a bug, please report the bug at To keep up to date with new releases and major bugs, subscribe to the esniper announce mailing list at


Many thanks to all contributors and users.


Copyright � 2002, 2003, 2004 Scott Nicol <> All rights reserved.
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