2009-08-25 - GNU coreutils 7.5 supports inotify for tail -f

As of version 7.5 of coreutils tail --follow uses inotify if available (as inotail does).

2007-09-07 - inotail 0.5 released

Released version 0.5 of inotail containing only small fixes. Please refer to the changelog for details.

2007-06-20 - inotail 0.4 released

Released version 0.4 of inotail. As of this version inotail uses buffers of optimal size (depending on the filesystem) for I/O (patch contributed by Folkert van Heusden). See the changelog for all changes. Debian packages should hit the archive soon.

2007-04-17 - inotail 0.3 released

Released version 0.3 of inotail containing various bugfixes and cleanups (see changelog for details). Debian packages should hit the archive soon.

2006-12-04 - inotail 0.2 released

Released version 0.2 of inotail.


inotail is a replacement for the 'tail' program found in the base installation of every Linux/UNIX system. It makes use of the inotify infrastructure in recent versions of the Linux kernel to speed up tailing files in the follow mode (the '-f' option). Standard tail polls the file every second by default while inotail listens to special events sent by the kernel through the inotify API to determine whether a file needs to be reread.

Currently inotail is not fully compatible to neither POSIX or GNU tail but might be in the future. (Note: I'm currently working on correct tailing from pipes which would make inotail fully compatible to POSIX tail)

See the inotail(1) manpage or the README file for more details.


  • Linux kernel 2.6.13 or higher with CONFIG_INOTIFY enabled
  • Standard C Library (tested with GNU libc but might work with others too)


You can get the current development version of inotail from the git repository at Use the following command to clone the tree:

$ git clone git://

Debian GNU/Linux users can find the inotail package in the Debian package archive. inotail is also available in the Ubuntu Universe repository.

Users of Fedora/RedHat/CentOS can download a spec file created by Florin Andrei to create an RPM-Package themselves using the command rpmbuild -ta inotail-${version}.tar.gz

On Gentoo Linux there is an ebuild for inotail in the portage tree.


inotail is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License Version 2. You can find the full text in the LICENSE file in the source tree of inotail.


Please report feedback, questions or patches to tklauser -at- distanz -dot- ch