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CHANGETRACK(1) General Commands Manual CHANGETRACK(1)


changetrack - track changes to files


changetrack [-h] [-c configfile] [-d directory] [-e] [-r] [-q] [-m message] [-M message] [-v] [-u] [-o toaddress] [-f fromaddress]


changetrack is a program to monitor changes to a bunch of files. If files are modified one day, and the machine starts working incorrectly some days later, changetrack can provide information on which files were modified, and help locate the problem.

Normally changetrack uses ed to keep track of various revisions of the files by maintaining an .ed script with the change history for each file.

Alternatively, changetrack can use rcs to keep track of various revisions of the files. Each file is "installed" in the rcs system the first time that changetrack is run after that file is added to the config file. Whenever changetrack is run after that, a copy of the file is made, which is 'checked in' and implicitly 'checked out' of the rcs system. See the man page of co for information on retrieving an old version of the file.

Backup files (ending in tilde ~) are ignored, unless explicitly included.

After each pattern in the file list, adding white space, a colon (:) then more whitespace, followed by email addresses, separated by more whitespace, will result in the changes to that file being emailed to that address. All changes from each run are expressed in one email. Using the email feature requires Mail::SendMail to be installed; if it does not work correctly, an error message will be printed to standard error.


Display a short help message then exit.
Get the list of files to track from configfile instead of from ~/.changetrackrc (/etc/changetrack.conf for the super-user)
Store output in outputdirectory instead of in ~/.changetrack/ (/var/lib/changetrack/ for the super-user)
Keep a copy of the file from when it was first added to the changetrack configuration, and keep ed styled changes to rebuild the file. This option is recommended only if rcs does not work on the machine. To recover using this means, the .ed file should have the last several commands removed, to allow the file to be rebuilt to the appropriate state. A command like 'cat myfile.ed | ed myfile.original' should be executed.
Disable the rcs facility.
Quiet mode; only print critical messages. Good for scripts.
Print message on each file, after checking for any changes. Good for indicating reboots or other system events.
Like -m, but message is only printed on modified files.
Print version and exit.
Use unified diffs (this only works with some implementations of diff.
Mail output to emailaddress. This is supplementary to emails specified in the config file.
Set "From" header to emailaddress, which must be fully qualified.


This program requires diff. Unless the -r switch is used, this program requires rcs to be installed. If the -e switch is used, ed is required.


List of files to monitor. Each line may start with '#' indicating a comment. If a line is not a comment, it contains a file/pattern to monitor, and optionally " : " followed by any email addresses to send changes to. The filename may be a pattern described in the same way as for ls. Note: the default is /etc/changetrack.conf for root.
Default directory in which to store output information. The default is /var/lib/changetrack/ for root. All rcs files are stored in this directory, unless a subdirectory called RCS exists, in which case the rcs files are stored in that directory.
Script that creates the list of all files monitor.
Script that invocates changetrack.
Configuration for the above two scripts.


Each filename is written to standard output. rcs will print errors if certain things go wrong. It will also print a few lines each time changetrack is run after a new file is added to the configuration.


Author: Cameron J. Morland.
Manual Page Revision: 2.1 Release Date: 2001-03-06.
Copyright © 2001-2005 Cameron J. Morland.
Changed by Jens Peter Secher to reflect the Debian modifications.


ed(1), rcsintro(1), co(1)


Automate removal of out-of-date changes, to save disk space and clarify the important changes.


None known.