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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  STMPCLEAN (8)


stmpclean - remove old files from a world-writable directory


See Also


stmpclean [-t<timespec>] [-v] dir1 [dir2 ...]


The stmpclean utility removes old files (and old empty directories) from the specified directory. It’ll be typically used to clean directories such as ‘‘/tmp’’ where old files tend to accumulate.

The stmpclean utility never removes files or directories owned by root. It is a feature, not a bug. Great care is taken while descending into the directory, and the operation is secure. Anything that’s not a directory, regular file, or symbolic link is also left alone (because programs like screen(1) create sockets and FIFOs under /tmp and expect them to be long-lived; we accomodate this practice). Unlike floating around Perl scripts that do the same task stmpclean never forks and consumes limited amount of memory (these Perl scripts easily turn into forking bombs when someone creates a lot a directories under ‘‘/tmp’’). If your system is attacked and the attacker creates an extremely deep file hierarchy, stmpclean won’t add to the problem by crashing your system trying to remove it. But it won’t help you in fighting the attack, either, because it descends only to a limited depth (currently, 30 levels). If stmpclean determines a race condition it’ll log the situation (you can look for the word ‘‘RACE’’ in log files) and exit with a failure.

So, stmpclean will clean temporary directories for you fine when there are no attacks, and, when there is an attack, stmpclean won’t make the situation worse (in particular, it cannot be tricked into removing files outside specified directories or consume unlimited amount of resources).

The following option is available:
  The time specification that follows the -t flag specifies how old a file or a directory has to be before it will be removed. It can be a string like ‘1w’ (one week) or ‘4d5h’ (four days plus five hours) or ‘2m3s’ (two minutes plus three seconds). The default is ‘3d’ (three days).
-v Be verbose: list each file deleted.

The stmpclean utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


The stmpclean utility will typically be run nightly from cron(8) as
stmpclean /tmp /var/tmp

In FreeBSD stmpclean invokation should be placed into the file /etc/periodic/daily/110.clean-tmps. In other versions of BSD it should go into the /etc/daily script. In Linux, check if you have /etc/periodic, and if not, you can just run it from cron; usually you’d have to edit /etc/crontab.




When stmpclean removes a file from a directory, modification time of the directory changes and it looks new to stmpclean when it examines it later (if the directory became empty). Thus, removing a deep hierarchy can take some time. Notice that this only delays removal of some empty directories.
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