Timegaps is a cross-platform command line program. It sorts a set of items into rejected and accepted ones, based on the age of each item and user-given time categorization rules.
Timegaps allows for thinning out a collection of items, whereas the time gaps between accepted items become larger with increasing age of items. This is useful for implementing backup retention policies with the goal to keep backups "logarithmically" distributed in time, e.g. one for each of the last 24 hours, one for each of the last 30 days, one for each of the last 8 weeks, and so on.
Timegaps is built with a focus on reliability. It is backed by a considerable set of unit tests, including direct command line interface tests. Currently, each commit is automatically tested against CPython 2.7/3.3/3.4 on Linux via Travis CI. Releases are tested on Linux as well as on Windows. Simplicity and compliance with the Unix philosophy are the major design goals of timegaps. Version tags follow the concept of semantic versioning.
Timegaps requires Python. Releases are tested on CPython 2.7/3.3/3.4, on Linux as well as on Windows. This is where you can expect it to run properly.
Installation via pip is recommended:
$ pip install timegaps
This downloads the latest timegaps releases from PyPI and installs it. A previously installed version can be upgraded via:
$ pip install --upgrade timegaps
This is how to install the latest development version:
$ pip install git+https://github.com/jgehrcke/timegaps
Documentation and changelog
- Docs and resources: the official home of this program is
http://gehrcke.de/timegaps. The documentation consists of this
timegaps --help, and
Consider the following situation: all
*.tar.gz files in the current working
directory happen to be daily snapshots of something. The task is to accept one
snapshot for each of the last 20 days, one for each for the last 8 weeks, and
one for each of the last 12 months, and to reject all others. Use timegaps for
performing this categorization into rejected and accepted items and print the
$ timegaps days20,weeks8,months12 *.tar.gz | sort daily-2013-09-17-133413.tar.gz [...] daily-2014-02-27-070001.tar.gz
This was a read-only, non-invasive operation. By default, timegaps prints the rejected items to stdout, separated by newline characters (for compatibility with other Unix command line tools). Repeat the operation and count the rejected items:
$ timegaps days20,weeks8,months12 *.tar.gz | wc -l 125
Given this specific set of rules and set of items, timegaps identified 125 items
to be rejected. Move them to the directory
notneededanymore (and suppress
$ mkdir notneededanymore $ timegaps --move notneededanymore days20,weeks8,months12 *.tar.gz > /dev/null
Count files in the newly created directory for validation purposes (must also be 125):
$ /bin/ls -1 notneededanymore/* | wc -l 125
Okay, so far the item (file) modification time was determined from the
corresponding inode via the
stat() system call. In a different mode of
--time-from-basename), timegaps can read the "modification time"
from the basename of the file or directory. The file names of the tarred
snapshots in this hands-on session carry meaningful time information in the
daily-%Y-%m-%d-%H%M%S.tar.gz. Providing this format string, we can
instruct timegaps to parse the item modification time from the file names:
$ mv notneededanymore/* . $ timegaps --time-from-basename daily-%Y-%m-%d-%H%M%S.tar.gz \ days20,weeks8,months12 *.tar.gz | wc -l 125
The above can be useful in cases where the actual file modification time is
screwed, and the real timing information is only contained in the file name. In
another mode of operation (
--stdin), timegaps can read newline-separated
items from stdin, instead of reading items from the command line:
$ /bin/ls -1 *tar.gz | timegaps --stdin days20,weeks8,months12 | wc -l 125
-0/--nullsep, timegaps expects NUL character-separated items on stdin.
In this mode of operation, timegaps also NUL-separates the items on stdout:
$ find . -name "*tar.gz" -print0 | \ timegaps -0 --stdin days20,weeks8,months12 | \ tr '\0' '\n' | wc -l 125
By default, the reference time for determining the age of items is the time of
program invocation. Use
-t/--reference-time for changing the reference time
from now to an arbitrary point in time (January 1st, 2020, 00:00:00 local
timein this case):
$ timegaps --reference-time 20200101-000000 years10 *.tar.gz | wc -l 153
With a different reference time and different rules the number of rejected items obviously changed (from 125 to 153). Instead of printing the rejected items, timegaps can invert the output and print the accepted ones:
$ timegaps -a -t 20200101-000000 years10 *.tar.gz daily-2014-02-27-070001.tar.gz daily-2014-01-01-070001.tar.gz
There are more features, such as deleting files, or a mode in which items are treated as simple strings instead of paths. See the help message:
$ timegaps --help usage: timegaps [-h] [--extended-help] [--version] [-s] [-0] [-a] [-t TIME] [--time-from-basename FMT | --time-from-string FMT] [-d | -m DIR] [-r] [-v] RULES [ITEM [ITEM ...]] Accept or reject items based on age categorization. positional arguments: RULES A string defining the categorization rules. Must be of the form <category><maxcount>[,<category><maxcount>[, ... ]]. Example: 'recent5,days12,months5'. Valid <category> values: years, months, weeks, days, hours, recent. Valid <maxcount> values: positive integers. Default maxcount for unspecified categories: 0. ITEM Treated as path to file system entry (default) or as string (--time-from-string mode). Must be omitted in --stdin mode. Warning: duplicate items are treated independently. optional arguments: -h, --help Show help message and exit. --extended-help Show extended help message and exit. --version Show version information and exit. -s, --stdin Read items from stdin. The default separator is one newline character. -0, --nullsep Input and output item separator is NUL character instead of newline character. -a, --accepted Output accepted items and perform actions on accepted items. Overrides default, which is to output rejected items (and act on them). -t TIME, --reference-time TIME Parse reference time from local time string TIME. Required format is YYYYmmDD-HHMMSS. Overrides default reference time, which is the time of program invocation. --time-from-basename FMT Parse item modification time from the item path basename, according to format string FMT (cf. Python's strptime() docs at bit.ly/strptime). This overrides the default behavior, which is to extract the modification time from the inode. --time-from-string FMT Treat items as strings (do not validate paths). Parse time from item string using format string FMT (cf. bit.ly/strptime). -d, --delete Attempt to delete rejected paths. -m DIR, --move DIR Attempt to move rejected paths to directory DIR. -r, --recursive-delete Enable deletion of non-empty directories. -v, --verbose Control verbosity. Can be specified multiple times for increasing verbosity level. Levels: error (default), info, debug. Version 0.1.0
For a detailed specification of program behavior and the time categorization
method, please confer
Timegaps' input item set is either provided with command line arguments or read from stdin. The output is the set of rejected or accepted items, written to stdout.
Timegaps by default treats items as paths. It retrieves the modification time
st_mtime) of the corresponding file system entries via the
call. By default, timegaps works in a non-invasive read-only mode and simply
lists the rejected items. If explicitly requested, timegaps can also directly
delete or move the corresponding file system entries, using well-established
functions from the
shutil module in Python's standard library.
In a special mode of operation, timegaps can treat items as simple strings without path validation and extract the "modification time" from each string, according to a given time string format. This feature can be used for filtering any kind of time-dependent data, such as e.g. ZFS snapshots (if properly named).
The well-established backup solution rsnapshot
has the useful concept of
hourly / daily / weekly / ... snapshots already
built in and creates such a structure on the fly. Unfortunately, other backup
approaches often lack such a fine-grained backup retention logic, and people
tend to hack simple filters themselves. Furthermore, even rsnapshot is not able
to post-process and thin out an existing set of snapshots. This is where
timegaps comes in: you can use the backup solution of your choice for
periodically (e.g. hourly) creating a snapshot. You can then — independently
and at any time — process this set of snapshots with timegaps and identify
those snapshots that need to be eliminated (removed or displaced) in order to
maintain a certain “logarithmic” distribution of snapshots in time. This is the
main motivation behind timegaps, but of course you can use it for filtering any
kind of time-dependent data.
How can the unit tests be run?
If you run into troubles with timegaps, or if you want to verify whether it
properly runs on your platform, it is a good idea to run the unit test suite
under your conditions. Timegaps' unit tests are written for pytest. With
timegaps/test being the current working
directory, run the tests like this:
$ py.test -v
Author & license
Timegaps is written and maintained by Jan-Philip Gehrcke. It is licensed under an MIT license (see LICENSE file).