tail -f and then exit on matching string

Posted by Patrick on Server Fault See other posts from Server Fault or by Patrick
Published on 2010-12-21T02:01:14Z Indexed on 2010/12/21 5:23 UTC
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I am trying to configure a startup script which will startup tomcat, monitor the catalina.out for the string "Server startup", and then run another process. I have been trying various combinations of tail -f with grep and awk, but haven't got anything working yet. The main issue I am having seems to be with forcing the tail to die after grep or awk have matched the string.

I have simplified to the following test case.

test.sh is listed below:

rm -f child.out
./child.sh > child.out &
tail -f child.out | grep -q B

child.sh is listed below:

echo A
sleep 20
echo B
echo C
sleep 40
echo D

The behavior I am seeing is that grep exits after 20 seconds , however the tail will take a further 40 seconds to die. I understand why this is happening - tail will only notice that the pipe is gone when it writes to it which only happens when data gets appended to the file. This is compounded by the fact that tail is to be buffering the data and outputting the B and C characters as a single write (I confirmed this by strace). I have attempted to fix that with solutions I found elsewhere, such as using unbuffer command, but that didn't help.

Anybody got any ideas for how to get this working how I expect it? Or ideas for waiting for successful Tomcat start (thinking about waiting for a TCP port to know it has started, but suspect that will become more complex that what I am trying to do now). I have managed to get it working with awk doing a "killall tail" on match, but I am not happy with that solution. Note I am trying to get this to work on RHEL4.

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