an atomic odometer for the command line
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odo - an atomic odometer for the command line

Atomic Odometer? What?

odo atomically updates a count in a file, which will be created if not present. The count is text-formatted (e.g. "00012345\n"), and will be accurately incremented or reset even when multiple processes attempt to change the counter at the same time. (It uses memory mapping and atomic compare-and-swap operations to eliminate race conditions.)

Use cases

This could be used to track some intermittent event, like services being restarted. (This was the original inspiration.) Since the counter is just a number in a text file, it's easy to compose odo with other tools.


odo depends on atomic compare-and-swap functionality (e.g. __sync_bool_compare_and_swap), which is available on most common platforms. The build is currently tested on Linux, OpenBSD, and OSX on x86 and x86-64 systems, as well as on a Raspberry Pi (32-bit ARM).

If the gcc-specific feature defines in types.h are not recognized by your C99 compiler, you may need to set COUNTER_SIZE in the Makefile yourself: -DCOUNTER_SIZE=4 for 32-bit systems and -DCOUNTER_SIZE=8 for 64-bit systems.

Getting started

To build it, just type:

$ make

To install it:

$ make install

To run the tests:

$ make test

Example Use

This atomically increments a counter in /log/restarts. If the counter file does not exist, it is created as 0 and incremented to 1.

$ odo /log/restarts

Same, but print the updated count:

$ odo -p /log/restarts

Reset the count to 0:

$ odo -r /log/restarts

Set the count to a number (for testing notifications, perhaps):

$ odo -s 12345 /log/restarts

Print the current counter value without incrementing:

$ odo -c /log/restarts

Print usage / help:

$ odo -h


odo's atomicity is only as reliable as the underlying filesystem's. Inconsistencies may still occur if used on a non-local filesystems such as nfs.