Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Happened to Atime? (And What Do I Do Without It?)

On Fedora 8, atime's gone.

Historically, the access time (atime) of a file changes whenever you read or execute it. You change the atime of a directory by doing an ls. All of these are requests for the system to go out and look at the contents of something in the file system.

You can look at the atime of a file with the -u ("useful") option of ls. "Is my application actually reading its configuration file? I'll just do ls -ul app.conf."

As the accompanying screenshot shows, this no longer works in Fedora 8. The terminal in the southwest corner is Fedora, the one in the northeast corner is Ubuntu. [Click on the screenshot to enlarge it.]

I think I can still get the information I need with systrace, but it's clumsy. I wish I knew how to turn atime back on. I thought I could do it with chattr -A, or with mount -o remount,atime, but neither seems to do the trick.

If you know how get Fedora 8 to give me atimes, I'd love to know.

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