What mechanism controls how often/when the /tmp directory is cleaned up. If there is such built-in mechanism at all or do I need to resort to a custom cron?

I'd appreciate either a specific command/tool or if you just point me to where I can find the appropriate documentation.

I am using Ubuntu 10.04 server if it matters.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

On Ubuntu, install tmpreaper.

apt-get install tmpreaper
  • Thank you. tmpreaper tool is exactly what I was looking for – Sergey G Sep 1 '10 at 19:53

tmpwatch can be used to clean up /tmp.

Well, you can mount it in in swap/ramdisk (google for how to set that up) Solaris does this by default, cleans up with every reboot. :-) I've done it with Linux, it can be very nice, and makes /tmp nice and fast.

Personally, I would only delete stuff from /tmp that is older than the last reboot, or that I know is safe, lots of things have working data in /tmp, and it may we be from just after boot (I don't know that for sure, but I would be cautious, granted, worst case, reboot and you are fixed).

For long uptimes, tmpreaper is the way to go.

Ubuntu cleans /tmp at each boot. If you reboot, files may be deleted that you may have intended to keep based on thresholds supplied to tmpreaper. You can control boot-time /tmp cleaning using the TMPTIME variable.

From man rcS:

On boot the files in /tmp will be deleted if their modification time is more than TMPTIME days ago. A value of 0 means that files are removed regardless of age. If you don't want the system to clean /tmp then set TMPTIME to a negative value (e.g., -1) or to the word infinite.

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.