3 Replies Latest reply: Feb 9, 2016 12:38 PM by JPHughJ
htimsknarf Level 1 (0 points)

I have posted this elsewhere (But not at Apple) with little response.


I have a group of 5 MacMini computers in our graphics department; they are all joined to a Windows 2003 Active Directory and use a shared drive space for file sharing/storage/backup. They all run 10.6 or a bit older OS, but this situation is created by a single workstation.


One of these users has a workstation running OS X 10.6.8 and a variety of publishing and graphics tools. At an unpredictable point, this workstation creates a /private/tmp directory in the root of the shared drive. The folder is unhidden (viewable by all users with access to the drive). There are no files left in the drive (some may be there at some point, but none have been seen by anyone during occasional investigations). If someone deletes the directories, a week or two goes by and they are re-created.


I know which workstation is authoring the directories due to the Windows permissions and owner of the folders.


I thought I would be able to locate the offending process and make it stop. At first, I thought the user's system might be creating it because there was little local drive space left (less than 1 GB Free) and using that area for temporary drive caching during a big Photoshop operation of something. I had the user empty the trash (about 20 GB); I deleted the /private/tmp directories, hoping I had fixed it. Three weeks go by and suddenly it reappears. I rush to the workstation, open Console, and examine all entries for the period when the creation occured. There was nothing going on at all. So my thought to chase the rogue process was fruitless.


I also have checked the logs (events) on the Windows server where the directories are being created. There is also nothing logged there for the time when the creation occurred. My current investigative path is whether the OS or an application is causing this: since the user reboots the system only occasionally, I shut down her system yesterday as she left, and am watching for creation of the directories this morning, which would indicate (perhaps) some OS function.


Can anyone throw any light on this? I have searched and searched all sorts of sites looking for a solution or hints, and nothing has paid out for me. This doesn't appear to be a 'bad' thing, but now I am curious to learn what is going on.

Mac mini, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • Don Roedl Level 2 (210 points)

    I have worked with applications that need to have a temporary folder available to write small bits of data to. Many do need this.  I would assume some application is running a process to create this folder as part of its routine. It is odd that it is visable. I think I'd let it be. However, if you wanted to follow it up you could try placing a locked folder with an identical name in that path, as a place holder, and then see which application starts giving you problems. I don't really recommend this though.

  • MrHoffman Level 6 (14,842 points)

    The /tmp directory is just what it appears; for temporary file and directory storage.  The creation of /tmp files is common practice in applications used on Unix systems such as OS X, and many applications will use those resources. 


    On OS X, /tmp is an alias for /private/tmp. 


    $ ls -ale / | grep -i tmp

    lrwxr-xr-x@    1 root  wheel        11 Aug 30  2009 tmp -> private/tmp



    OS X should clean up the contents of the /tmp directories on restart, too.


    There are add-on tools around to clean up this stuff, but I generally don't recommend using those.  Mistakes with certain of the shell commands used in the clean-up scripts can be bad, too.


    FWIW, if you're down to tens of gigabytes of free storage, your disks are either very undersized or seriously overloaded, and the disks either need to be off-loaded or replaced with larger-capacity disks, or both.   Recommendations for freespace vary, but I've seen anywhere from 10% to 30% of the capacity recommended.  Operating disks near capacity means the disks and the files tend to fragment.

  • JPHughJ Level 1 (0 points)

    thanks from me as well