tailf(1) follow the growth of a log file


tailf [option] file


tailf is deprecated. It may have unfixed bugs and will be removed from util-linux in March 2017. Nowadays it's safe to use tail -f (from coreutils), in contrast to what the original documentation below says.

tailf will print out the last 10 lines of the given file and then wait for this file to grow. It is similar to tail -f but does not access the file when it is not growing. This has the side effect of not updating the access time for the file, so a filesystem flush does not occur periodically when no log activity is happening.

tailf is extremely useful for monitoring log files on a laptop when logging is infrequent and the user wishes the hard disk to spin down to conserve battery life.

-n, --lines=number, -number
Output the last number lines, instead of the last 10.
-V, --version
Display version information and exit.
, --help
Display help text and exit.


This program was originally written by Rik Faith ([email protected]) and may be freely distributed under the terms of the X11/MIT License. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY for this program.

The latest inotify-based implementation was written by Karel Zak ([email protected]).


The tailf command is part of the util-linux package and is available from ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/linux/utils/util-linux/.