I have a growing log file for which I want to display only the last 15 lines. Here is what I know I can do:

tail -n 15 -F mylogfile.txt

As the log file is filled, tail appends the last lines to the display.

I am looking for a solution that only displays the last 15 lines and get rid of the lines before the last 15 after it has been updated. Would you have an idea?

  • 30
    Resize your terminal window to 15 lines. – Jonathan Jan 19 '12 at 19:48
  • 1
    That's a good one too. – Marc-Olivier Titeux Jan 20 '12 at 9:08
  • 3
    @Jonathan genius! – Marsellus Wallace Sep 19 '15 at 0:00
  • Couldn't upvote jonathan's comment or it loses the flavor of having 15 upvotes – jdero Aug 19 '16 at 18:24

It might suffice to use watch:

$ watch tail -n 15 mylogfile.txt
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  • 1
    Great! Thanks a lot. I also learn the 'watch' command in the process. – Marc-Olivier Titeux Jan 19 '12 at 12:41
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    Be aware that this solution doesn’t work if the file grows more than 15 lines between two watch updates. You can use -n to change this interval. – bfontaine Aug 5 '16 at 10:00

If you use watch, try the -n option to control the interval between each update.

Thus, the following would call tail every 2 seconds

$ watch -n 2 tail -n 15 mylogfile.txt

while this one polls it every 1 second

$ watch -n 1 tail -n 15 mylogfile.txt
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You could stream the logfile running less and pressing SHIFT + F that will stream the file using less. $ less mylogfile.txt Then just press SHIFT + F and it will stream. I think it is convenient for monitoring log files that update.

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  • 1
    That's a very nice one! – kaiser Mar 10 '16 at 15:21

Maybe you find the -d param handy.

man watch

-d Highlight the differences between successive updates. Option will read optional argument that changes highlight to be permanent, allowing to see what has changed at least once since first iteration.

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In Solaris, AIX or HPUX or UNIX-like (including Linux) you can use scripts to monitoring logs or anything like that:

while true; 
    do date; 
    echo ;
    echo "MONITORING LOG IN "/path/to/file.log": "; 
    echo "Obs.: Last 20 lines of a logfile:
    echo ;
    tail -20 /path/to/file.log;
    echo ;
sleep 5; 
| improve this answer | |

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