node package manager


File System Notifier that invokes scripts when new input files are available


The fs-notifier daemon monitors directories (folders) for changes and notifies interested scripts about these changes. Changes include

  1. Files created
  2. Files modified

The daemon always runs on port 8664 on the machine on which it is run. For example, http://localhost:8664/ if you are running it on the machine on which you are reading this page.

fs-notifier automatically re-tries failed files up to 5 times.

I personally use fs-notifier as a crude data-driven workflow management tool, and create pipes of workflows, with each script consuming the output produced by the previous script in the pipe.

Sample config file

  { "script": "/home/username/",
    "email": "",
    "files": [ "[a-z]{2,3}wiki-([0-9]+)-pages-articles.xml.bz2", ".*\\.c" ]
  { "script": "/home/username/",
    "email": "",
    "files": [ ".*" ]
    "conf": { watchdirs:   [ "/dir1", "/dir2", "/dirN" ],
              metadatadir: "/tmp/fs-notifier-meta",
              http_port:   8664
  { "smtp": { "user": "username", "password": "password",
              "host": "SMTP host name", "ssl": true

Key(s) script

The script section is the complete PATH of the script to invoke.

Every script is invoked with just 1 argument, that being the path name of the file is is supposed to process. Every script returns Zero (0) to indicate success, and a non-zero value to indicate failure. Failed files for a script are automatically re-tried up to 5 times.

The file names ( and in the example config file above) of scripts MUST be unique since they are used to determine the status of complete files. i.e. You can NOT have 2 scripts with the exact same file name.

Additionally, every file name that is being monitored MUST also be unique since the file names (and not their complete path names) are used to detect if the file has been processed. The rationale behind using the file name over the file path to check if the file has been processed is that it makes it easier to move files around directories without losing their completed status with respect to various scripts.

You can move scripts around as long as their file names remain the same. i.e /home/username/ can be changed to /opt/scripts/folder01/folder02/, but you may NOT change it to /home/username/ If you do, then all files associated with this script will be re-tried. There is however a way around this (if you really MUST rename a file). See the section Running below.

email is OPTIONAL and if set, an email will be sent to the specified address every time a script fails to process a given file. This is detected by checking the return code of the script. Zero (0) indicates success, and anything else indicates a failure.

The strings in the files array are regular expressions that are used to match against file names. If multiple regular expressions match a single file name for a given script, then that file is processed just once.

Key conf

You may specify as many directories in the watchdirs array as the number of directories you wish to watch.

The metadatadir entry is a directory where the metadata about the completion status of the various scripts on the files being watched is stored. This is used in the case when the daemon is stopped and re-started to determine which files have been successfully processed by a certain script. This is why it is ESSENTIAL to keep the name of the script the same. If you ABSOLUTELY MUST rename a script, please also rename the folder under this directory to reflect the new name of the script.

The http_port is the port on which the internal HTTP service will be listening for requests.

Key smtp

This entry indicates the SMTP configuration used to send out email in case of script execution failures.


You will need node.js installed on the machine you wish to install fs-notifier on. Once you have it, just type:

$ npm install fs-notifier


Create a configuration file (sample above) and place it at $HOME/.fsnotifier.


$ fs-notifier --config=PATH_TO_CONFIG

The --config is the path to the configuration file in case it isn't placed at $HOME/.fsnotifier. Please don't use paths like ~/folder/file since fs-notifier will NOT perform GLOB expansion.

Important URLs

  • http://localhost/: The URL where you can monitor the status of your scripts.

  • http://localhost/kill: Kill the fs-notifier daemon. If you have used daemontools or forever to resetart fs-notifier on crashing, then the daemon will restart and re-load the configuration file from disk. The daemon also sends the SIGTERM signal to each currently running script.

  • http://localhost/reset?script=SCRIPT&file=FILE: Load this URL to reset the completed status of a file(FILE) with respect to a script(SCRIPT). If the file FILE has been marked as completed for script SCRIPT, then this call will reset the completed status and invoke the script SCRIPT for the file FILE in case FILE is either created or modified.

Expected setup

There are many ways to set up fs-notifier, but the expected environment uses a process monitoring tool such as:

  1. forever
  2. daemontools

to monitor the running fs-notifier process (since it blocks). This ensures that if the process is killed (which it can be by clicking the Kill Daemon link on the main page), then the process monitoring tool of your choice will re-start it. This is a valid way by which you can re-load the configuration file. The process will FAIL to restart if the configuration file is not in a valid JSON format.

When the fs-notifier process is killed, it sends a SIGTERM signal to each of the scripts that are currently running, so that those scripts can handle that signal and [dis]gracefully terminate.

I don't know

I don't know the behaviour of fs-notifier in the following scenarios:

  1. One of the directories in watchdirs is a symlink.

  2. One of the directories in watchdirs contains a symlink of another entry in watchdirs.

  3. A directory in watchdirs is deleted and re-created after the daemon is started.

  4. The directory metadatadir does NOT have the necessary permissions for the fs-notifier daemon to create directories and write files to it.

  5. The same directory (or symlinks of the same directory) is specified as both the metadatadir as well as one of the watchdirs directories.