I have a process that creates many files in a known directory, and the only way to tell how far along it is is to type ls manually. Is there a way to make the output of ls update automatically as new files are created, similar to how tail -f works? Because of their names, every new file appears at the end of the list, so I wouldn't have to worry about them appearing in the middle.

  • Is the program that creates the files something that instead could possibly be updated to output how far it has come, alternatively how far it has left to go? If not, a tool that is often used to detect file modifications/creation is inotify. – Kusalananda Jan 11 '19 at 7:25
  • In this specific instance, yes. However I've bumped into this problem in cases where I could not edit the program, and because I couldn't find an answer to this problem on the internet. I figured it would be a useful trick to know, and may help someone else out if there is a solution. – David Scott Jan 11 '19 at 7:28
  • Also, doing this without editing the program does not restrict you to receiving the output in the launch terminal, and can be turned on and off. – David Scott Jan 11 '19 at 7:29

You can use command like:

watch ls

to loop execution of ls command

If the listing is too long you can add -C to ls

watch ls -C

Or you can create explicit loop with while

while [ 1 ]
  sleep 60
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    Marked this as the answer for being the closest to my intentions, with the added benefit of allowing for the multi-column output of ls. – David Scott Jan 11 '19 at 7:54
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    I turned this into a one-line terminal command to make it into an alias more easily: while [ 1 ]; do clear; ls; sleep 60; done – David Scott Jan 11 '19 at 7:55
  • @DavidScott, sure, that's possible, feel free to tune the code according to your environment and requirements – Romeo Ninov Jan 11 '19 at 7:57
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    Since you want to watch a progress, something like watch 'ls -ltr | tail' may suit best. Note the quotes so that the shell does not interpret the |. – rexkogitans Jan 11 '19 at 14:06

You can use a script like this that monitor every changes and after any change it makes a ls sorted by date. To be able to execute it you would need inotify-tools installed. The script would be the following:

inotifywait -m -r -e create --format '%w%f' "${DIRECTORY}" | while read NEW
        ls -hltr
  • I like this answer because it doesn't "poll" and update every X seconds. Instead, it will trigger a refresh when there is a reason to refresh. Presumably, it will react more quickly than sleep 60 will allow. – Christopher Schultz Jan 11 '19 at 18:09

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