Why the files in /tmp directory gets deleted periodically on CentOS / RHEL 6,7?

In CentOS/RHEL 7, tmpfiles.d cleans up /tmp or /var/tmp by removing unused files. This function was called “tmpwatch” in CentOS/RHEL 6 which is invoked by crond, however, it is now realized by timer of systemd on CentOS/RHEL 7.


The main purpose of the /tmp directory is to temporarily store files when installing an OS or software. If any files in the /tmp directory have not been accessed for a while, they will be automatically deleted from the system. Please find below the configuration responsible to delete the files in /tmp directory.


For CentOS/RHEL 6

1. A cronjob that is installed and started by the system by default, runs the command tmpwatch which scans all entires in /tmp every minute. The cronjob of tmpwatch is set in /etc/cron.daily/tmpwatch

# cat /etc/cron.daily/tmpwatch
#! /bin/sh
/usr/sbin/tmpwatch "$flags" -x /tmp/.X11-unix -x /tmp/.XIM-unix \
	-x /tmp/.font-unix -x /tmp/.ICE-unix -x /tmp/.Test-unix \
	-X '/tmp/hsperfdata_*' -X '/tmp/.hdb*lock' -X '/tmp/.sapstartsrv*.log' \
	-X '/tmp/pymp-*' 10d /tmp


2. You can find more information on tmpwatch on its man page.

# man tmpwatch


For CentOS/RHEL 7

1. In case of CentOS/RHEL 7, systemd-tmpfiles cleans up files in /tmp directory periodically. The setting for cleaning up /tmp directory is in /usr/lib/tmpfiles.d/tmp.conf.


2. Below is the default configuration file – /usr/lib/tmpfiles.d/tmp.conf. As you can see the directories /tmp and /var/tmp are scheduled to be cleaned up every 10 and 30 days respectively.

# cat /usr/lib/tmpfiles.d/tmp.conf
# Clear tmp directories separately, to make them easier to override
v /tmp 1777 root root 10d
v /var/tmp 1777 root root 30d

# Exclude namespace mountpoints created with PrivateTmp=yes
x /tmp/systemd-private-%b-*
X /tmp/systemd-private-%b-*/tmp
x /var/tmp/systemd-private-%b-*
X /var/tmp/systemd-private-%b-*/tmp


3. More information about systemd-tmpfiles, please see the man pages:

# man systemd-tmpfiles
# man tmpfiles.d


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