direvent.conf(5) configuration file for


The configuration file consists of statements and comments.

There are three classes of lexical tokens: keywords, values, and separators. Blanks, tabs, newlines and comments, collectively called white space are ignored except as they serve to separate tokens. Some white space is required to separate otherwise adjacent keywords and values.


Comments may appear anywhere where white space may appear in the configuration file. There are two kinds of comments: single-line and multi-line comments. Single-line comments start with # or // and continue to the end of the line:

# This is a comment
// This too is a comment

Multi-line or C-style comments start with the two characters /* (slash, star) and continue until the first occurrence of */ (star, slash).

Multi-line comments cannot be nested. However, single-line comments may well appear within multi-line ones.

Pragmatic Comments

Pragmatic comments are similar to the usual single-line comments, except that they cause some changes in the way the configuration is parsed. Pragmatic comments begin with a # sign and end with the next physical newline character.
#include <FILE>
#include FILE
Include the contents of the file file. Both forms are equivalent. The FILE must be an absolute file name.
#include_once <FILE>
#include_once FILE
Same as #include, except that, if the FILE has already been included, it will not be included again.
#line num
#line num "FILE"
This line causes the parser to believe, for purposes of error diagnostics, that the line number of the next source line is given by num and the current input file is named by FILE. If the latter is absent, the remembered file name does not change.
# num "FILE"
This is a special form of the #line statement, understood for compatibility with the C preprocessor.


Simple statement

A simple statement consists of a keyword and value separated by any amount of whitespace. Simple statement is terminated with a semicolon (;).

The following is a simple statement:

pidfile /var/run/direvent.pid;

See below for a list of valid simple statements.

A value can be one of the following:

A number is a sequence of decimal digits.
A boolean value is one of the following: yes, true, t or 1, meaning true, and no, false, nil, 0 meaning false.
unquoted string
An unquoted string may contain letters, digits, and any of the following characters: _, -, ., /, @, *, :.
quoted string
A quoted string is any sequence of characters enclosed in double-quotes ("). A backslash appearing within a quoted string introduces an escape sequence, which is replaced with a single character according to the following rules:

        Sequence  Expansion               ASCII
        \\        \                       134
        \"        "                       042
        \a        audible bell            007
        \b        backspace               010
        \f        form-feed               014
        \n        new line                012
        \r        charriage return        015
        \t        horizontal tabulation   011
        \v        vertical tabulation     013

In addition, the sequence \newline is removed from the string. This allows to split long strings over several physical lines, e.g.:

"a long string may be\
 split over several lines"

If the character following a backslash is not one of those specified above, the backslash is ignored and a warning is issued.

Two or more adjacent quoted strings are concatenated, which gives another way to split long strings over several lines to improve readability. The following fragment produces the same result as the example above:

"a long string may be"
" split over several lines"
A here-document is a special construct that allows to introduce strings of text containing embedded newlines.

The <<word construct instructs the parser to read all the following lines up to the line containing only word, with possible trailing blanks. Any lines thus read are concatenated together into a single string. For example:

A multiline

The body of a here-document is interpreted the same way as a double-quoted string, unless word is preceded by a backslash (e.g. <<\EOT) or enclosed in double-quotes, in which case the text is read as is, without interpretation of escape sequences.

If word is prefixed with - (a dash), then all leading tab characters are stripped from input lines and the line containing word. Furthermore, - is followed by a single space, all leading whitespace is stripped from them. This allows to indent here-documents in a natural fashion. For example:

<<- TEXT
    The leading whitespace will be
    ignored when reading these lines.

It is important that the terminating delimiter be the only token on its line. The only exception to this rule is allowed if a here-document appears as the last element of a statement. In this case a semicolon can be placed on the same line with its terminating delimiter, as in:

help-text <<-EOT
    A sample help text.
A comma-separated list of values, enclosed in parentheses. The following example shows a statement whose value is a list of strings:

option (wait, stderr);

In any context where a list is appropriate, a single value is allowed without being a member of a list: it is equivalent to a list with a single member. This means that, e.g.

option wait;

is equivalent to

option (wait);

Block Statement

A block statement introduces a logical group of statements. It consists of a keyword, followed by an optional value, called a tag, and a sequence of statements enclosed in curly braces, as shown in the example below:

watcher {
    path /etc;
    event create;

The closing curly brace may be followed by a semicolon, although this is not required.


Arguments of some statements undergo macro expansion before use. During the macro expansion any occurrence of ${NAME} is replaced by the value of macro NAME. Macro names follow the usual convention: they begin with a letter and contain letters digits and underscores. The curly braces around the NAME are optional. They are required only if the macro reference is followed by a character that is not to be interpreted as part of its name, as in ${command}string.

The following macros are defined:

Name of the file covered by the event.
Generic (system-independent) event code. It is a bitwise OR of the event codes represented as a decimal number.
Generic event name. If several generic events are reported simultaneously, the value of this variable is a list of event names separated by space characters. Each name corresponds to a bit in genev_code.
The PID of the external command started with the --self-test (-T) option. If direvent is started without this option, this variable is not defined.
System-dependent event code. It is a bitwise OR of the event codes represented as a decimal number.
System-dependent event name. If several events are reported, the value of this variable is a list of event names separated by space characters. Each name corresponds to a bit in sysev_code. See the section SYSTEM DEPENDENCIES in direvent(8), for a list of system-dependent event names.


user NAME;
Sets the user to run as. NAME must be a name of an existing user.
foreground BOOL;
Run in foreground.
pidfile FILE;
Upon successful startup store the PID of the daemon process in FILE.
debug NUMBER;
Set debug level. Valid NUMBER values are 0 (no debug) to 3 (maximum verbosity).


While connected to the terminal direvent outputs its diagnostics and debugging messages to the standard error. After disconnecting from the controlling terminal it closes the first three file descriptors and directs all its output to the syslog. When running in foreground mode, its messages are sent both to the standard error and to the syslog.

The following configuration statement controls the syslog output:

syslog {
facility STRING;
print-priority BOOL;

The statements are:

facility STRING;
Set syslog facility. STRING is one of the following: user, daemon, auth or authpriv, mail, cron, local0 through local7 (case-insensitive), or a facility number.
Tag syslog messages with STRING. Normally the messages are tagged with the program name.
print-priority BOOL;
Prefix each message with its priority.

An example syslog statement:

syslog {
    facility local0;
    print-priority yes;


The watcher statement configures a single event watcher. A watcher can control several events in multiple pathnames. Any number of watcher statements is allowed in the configuration file, each one of them declaring a separate watcher.

watcher {
path PATHNAME [recursive [NUMBER]];
command STRING;
user NAME;
timeout NUMBER;
environ ENV-SPEC;

The statements within a watcher block are:

path PATHNAME [recursive [NUMBER]];
Defines a pathname to watch. PATHNAME must be the name of an existing directory in the file system. The watcher will watch events occurring for all files within that directory. If the optional recursive clause is specified, this directory will be watched recursively, i.e. when any subdirectory is created in it, direvent will set up a watcher for files in this subdirectory. This new watcher will be an exact copy of the parent watcher, excepting for the pathnames. The optional NUMBER parameter defines a cut-off nesting level for recursive watching. If supplied, the recursive behaviour will apply only to the directories that are nested below that level.

Any number of path statements can appear in a watcher block. At least one path must be defined.

Selects which files are eligible for monitoring. The argument is a list of globbing patterns (in the sense of fnmatch(3)) and/or extended regular expressions ( regex(7)) one of which the file name must match in order for the watcher to act on it. Regular expressions must be surrounded by a pair of slashes, optionally followed by the following flags:
Use basic regular expressions.
Enable case-insensitive matching.

A pattern or regular expression prefixed with ! matches file names that don't match the pattern without !.

Configures the filesystem events to watch for in the directories declared by the path statements. The argument is a list of event names. Both generic and system-dependent event namess are allowed. Multiple event statements accumulate. A missing event statements means watch all events. For example:

event (open,delete);
command STRING;
Defines a command to execute on event. STRING is a command line just as you would type it in sh(1). It may contain macro variables, which will be expanded prior to execution. For example:

command "/bin/prog -event $genev_name -file $file";
See the section HANDLER ENVIRONMENT in direvent(8), for a detailed discussion of how the command is executed.
user STRING;
Run command as this user.
timeout NUMBER;
Terminate the command if it runs longer than NUMBER seconds. The default is 5 seconds.
A list of additional options. The following options are defined:
Wait for the program to terminate before handling next event from the event queue. Normally the program runs asynchronously.
Capture the standard output of the command and redirect it to the syslog with the LOG_INFO priority.
Capture the standard error of the command and redirect it to the syslog with the LOG_ERR priority.
environ ENV-SPEC;
Modify command environment. By default the command inherits the environment of direvent augmented with the following variables:
The system-dependent event code (see the ${sysev_code} variable).
The system-dependent event name or names (see the ${sysev_name} variable).
The generic event code (see the ${genev_code} variable).
The generic event name or names (see the ${genev_name} variable).
The name of the affected file relative to the current working directory (see the ${file} variable).
The environ statement allows for trimming the environment. Its argument is a list of one or more of the folloeing environment modification directives:
- (a single dash)
Clear the inherited environment, but retain the variables added by direvent. The removed environment variables can be selectively restored by the directives that follow. This must be the first directive in the list.
-- (double-dash)
Clear the entire environment, including the variables added by direvent. This must be the first directive in the list.
Unset the variable NAME.
Unset the environment variable NAME only if its value is VAL.
Restore the environment variable NAME. This directive is useful after - or -- to retain some variables from the environment.
Define environment variable NAME to the VALUE. VALUE can contain macro variables, which will be expanded prior to the assignment.
Retain the variable NAME and append VALUE to its existing value. If no such variable is present in the environment, it will be created and assigned the VALUE. If VALUE begins with a punctuation character, this character is removed from it before the assignment. This is convenient for using this construct with environment variables like PATH, e.g.:

In this example, if PATH exists, :/sbin will be appended to it. Otherwise, it will be created and assigned the value /sbin.
The VALUE can contain macro variables, which will be expanded prior to the assignment.
Retain the variable NAME and prepend VALUE to its existing value. If no such variable is present in the environment, it will be created and assigned the VALUE. In this case, if VALUE ends with a punctuation character, this character will be removed from it before the assignment.
The VALUE can contain macro variables, which will be expanded prior to the assignment.


Copyright © 2012, 2013 Sergey Poznyakoff
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.