Auto-magically delete files after they expire
C Python Shell
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-About expirer

-How to install

-User Guide and Documents

About expirer:

expirer is a file expiry tool. It allows admin user to set expiry time for specific files and automagically removes them when it expires.

How to install:

see INSTALL file


Warning : This is a beta-release,Use at your own risk! Read misc/ISSUES file for couple of known issues.

How expirer works?

When user sets file name and its time using expirer,time value recorded in file inode's dtime field. Then the values filename,time,md5sum stored on Berkeley DB (/etc/expirer/info.db) with time as key. And restart the daemon process expirerd.

expirerd is a daemon process which keeps reading DB file and when it finds entry which matches current time, it compares the disk file owner,inode,md5sum with DB values. If there is a perfect match daemon process unlinks the filepath and fetches the next DB record and repeats the process.

Why not use a simple scrit with cron ?

Yes. You can achieve same effect with a simple bash/python scripts. One possible advantage(?) over such script is:

  • With bash/python scripts you need to store the file details at certain db. If there are 50 people and each of them sets 1 file location and time to the db. Now db goes corrupt or missing. You need to re-enter the value manually 50 times. With 'expirer' you can perform a simple rescan to re-create the db entires,no need to manually set the file expiry time again!

Why you need such tool ?

  • We have project where we(root) share files with users in a common directory. Just needed to ensure,that these files are deleted from common share once the user copies them to their home directories.

Why inode's dtime is used instead of acl?

acl can be used, If I'm not wrong sometimes(or always?) setting 'acl' entries consume 1 block. using dtime this can be prevented.

If you find some other field (may be i_ctime_extra ? ) which will be more useful or right place holder than dtime. Please let me know. Thanks in advance!

Do you have an expirer GUI?

Glad you asked for it :D Yes!!!. We do have one based on Python-Kivy. Simply run expirer-gui to use it.

How to use the tool

How to set expiry time for files?

You need to pass devicename,absolute filepath and minutes as arguments to expirer binary.

Usage: expirer [-l list] [-d devicename -f filepath -t minutes] [-s -d devicename -m mountpoint] [-c cancel -f filepath]

# expirer -d /dev/sda7 -f /home/laks/file.exp6 -t 10

 File /home/laks/file.exp6 will expire in 10 minutes : Sat Dec 21 12:38:17 2013

For example, above command ensure the file /home/laks/file.exp6 expires in 10 minutes which happens to be Sat Dec 21 12:38:17 2013.

How to view list of expiry files and it details?

# expirer -l

Filename          Expires on

--------          ----------

/home/laks/file.exp6    Sat Dec 21 12:38:17 2013    

/home/laks/file.exp10   Sat Dec 21 19:15:39 2013

How to Cancel an entry from the expiry job list?

Suppose, your mind changed, now you won't want the file (file.exp10) to get expired. In order to cancel the previously applied expiry settings run the following command:

# expirer -c -f /home/laks/file.exp10

How to scan a device for expiry files ?

If you want to recreate the database use -s option rescan the partition.

# expirer -s -d devicename -m mounteddir


#expirer -s -d /dev/sda7 -m /home

Will scan the drive /dev/sda7 which was mounted on /home directory.

Note: Run this command only when /etc/expirer/info.db is corrupt or accidentally removed.

User Guide and Documents

For more screencasting/manuals,checkout

You can get me at

-Lakshmipathi.G -Dec 27,2013. ==================================EOF==================================