» change

…transparent filesystem change tracking using function interposition.

This project consists of a library libChangeLog and a matching wrapper bash script named change. If one opens any application using change it automatically tracks common system calls used for manipulating filesystem contents and provides the user with a short summary including diffs where appropriate.

> change mv test example
renamed 'test' to 'example'
> change vim example
--- /home/common/projects/dev/change/example
+++ /home/common/projects/dev/change/example    2016-02-13 21:43:15.719355382 +
@@ -1,3 +1,5 @@
> change rm example
removed 'example'

change aims to be a utility that can be dropped in front of any non-suid (function interposition via LD_PRELOAD is thankfully not allowed for suid-executables) application and generate a summary that will explain the actual happenings of a terminal session. While this is not very useful for simple, self-explanatory commands such as mv $this $to_that it is certainly helpful whenever files are changed by interactive applications that do not provide their own directly visible logging such as text editors. Such an application is in turn useful for e.g. documenting shell sessions.

change is written in Bash while the library it preloads is implemented in C++. Both are available via Github and cgit.


Due to its nature of interposing low level system calls such as write and unlink the library by default exposes lots of the internal write logic of the wrapped application. For instance it reports vim creating a file called 4913 to verify the target directory’s writability as well as the creation of various temporary backup files. While this is certainly interesting for debugging purposes it hinders the library’s goal of providing a higher level summary consisting primarily of the actions the user explicity performed such as the changed file contents.

To solve this problem one may provide a list of regular expressions to be matched against the file paths via the CHANGE_LOG_IGNORE_PATTERN_PATH environment variable.

For example the following ruleset intructs the library to restrict the output change vim $file to a diff of all files changed by the wrapped application:

# vim's way of verifying that it is able to create a file
# temporary backup file during write
# log and backup files

If the library is used via change it will automatically try to load a ruleset matching the wrapped applications name. Currently the respository packages such definitions for vim, gvim and neovim.