Many times, there are slight inconsistencies between two similar linux machines, where (for example) tmux supports colours on Machine M1, and does not support colours on Machine M2, or vi adds comments and formatting automatically on M1 but not on M2, or bash prompt has line-warping on or off, ssh options may not match.

Usually, we can try "strace bash" or "strace ssh" or "ssh -vvv" and "man vi" and look for standard files getting accessed. But , in nonstandard installations , (including customised compilations) these locations may not be complete.

In some cases, we can not even use strace or pass verbose options, eg logon shells, or some script calling some other scripts which call the tool in question.

So my question is : is there any standard method and tool which can help in finding all configuration files accessed by some tool ? Specific example : on M1, bash has line-warp, while on M2, it does not, even though all relevant parameters/files (.bashrc/.inputrc) are as expected and same on both M1 and M2.

  • In the examples given above, the configuration files were eventually tracked back to some NFS mount points, and those mount points had the differences. Eg setting TERM differently (xterm or vt100) or setting different ssh configurations or installing extra vi plugins for automatic formatting or installing different versions of readline package, etc. But each debugging session was very cumbersome, hence this question asking for general advice.
    – Prem
    Mar 27, 2015 at 7:07
  • 1
    If you want comprehensive and relatively fast logging, you can use auditd, to catch all the differences in a given time-window. Mar 27, 2015 at 7:47
  • Based on the comment , I found security.blogoverflow.com/2013/01/… which seems to be useful, so thanks @0xC0000022L for the pointer. If this tool (auditd) was added as an answer, then I will accept that.
    – Prem
    Mar 28, 2015 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


Based on a comment by @0xC0000022L , I found http://security.blogoverflow.com/2013/01/a-brief-introduction-to-auditd/ which seems to be useful, so adding it as a community wiki answer, in case other folks search for such questions ; I would not want them to simply move on, thinking that there was no answer here.

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