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File last access date in UNIX (Solaris)

Posted on 2014-04-22
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Last Modified: 2014-04-24
I'm using the stat function in perl to obtain an array of elements that describe the files being examined.  One of the elements in the array is the file's date of last access made by anyone.  However, the act of reading the file's date of last access changes that value to the date/time that the file's date of last access is read, which is the current date and time.  Is there a way to read the file's date of last access without changing it in the process?
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Question by:fireblood
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by:robocat
robocat earned 50 total points
ID: 40017078
Why not modify the access time of the file back to the value you just read? Of course assuming you have enough permissions.
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by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE earned 150 total points
ID: 40017095
Using stat on a file handle in perl is not changing accessed, modified or changed timestamps. How are you reading the access timestamp of a file?
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blu earned 300 total points
ID: 40017171
You must be doing something other than just running stat on the file. I attached a test perl script and here is what I get when I run it:

# ~/stat.pl
Create file and display the access time
-rw-r--r--   1         10 Apr 23 07:01 testfile

Get the atime and display it
Apr 23 07:01:46

Wait a while

Get the atime again and display it
Apr 23 07:01:46

What is the access time now?
-rw-r--r--   1          10 Apr 23 07:01 testfile

Now we really access it then display access time.
-rw-r--r--   1          10 Apr 23 07:02 testfile


As you can see, the access time did not update when run stat on the file.
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by:blu
ID: 40017178
Oops, somehow I missed the file. Here it is. I had to change the extension becase EE doesn't accept files with extension .pl.

stat.sh
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by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 40017413
@blu - Works fine in Linux for me as well, did you test Solaris?
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by:blu
ID: 40017924
My test was on Solaris.
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Author Closing Comment

by:fireblood
ID: 40020431
Thanks to the three of you, the key insight for me here was that I was asking for a workaround to a problem that didn't exist.  My code was accessing the files in a way that I didn't recognize, and when you made it clear that just doing a stat would not change the last access time stamp I went back and then confirmed that you were correct.  Thanks very much to all three.
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by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 40020696
You're welcome!
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