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Mktemp -- create temporary file-directory

Note: RHEL 5 does not have --tmpdir option.

mktemp(1) create temporary file-directory - Linux man page

mktemp [OPTION]... [TEMPLATE] 

Create a temporary file or directory, safely, and print its name. TEMPLATE must contain at least 3 consecutive 'X's in last component. If TEMPLATE is not specified, use tmp.XXXXXXXXXX, and --tmpdir is implied.

-d, --directory
create a directory, not a file
-u, --dry-run
do not create anything; merely print a name (unsafe)
-q, --quiet
suppress diagnostics about file/dir-creation failure
append SUFF to TEMPLATE. SUFF must not contain slash. This option is implied if TEMPLATE does not end in X.
interpret TEMPLATE relative to DIR. If DIR is not specified, use $TMPDIR if set, else /tmp. With this option, TEMPLATE must not be an absolute name. Unlike with -t, TEMPLATE may contain slashes, but mktemp creates only the final component.
-p DIR
use DIR as a prefix; implies -t [deprecated]
interpret TEMPLATE as a single file name component, relative to a directory: $TMPDIR, if set; else the directory specified via -p; else /tmp [deprecated]
display this help and exit
output version information and exit
Written by Jim Meyering and Eric Blake.

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[May 20, 2020] The mktemp Command Tutorial With Examples For Beginners

May 20, 2020 |

Mktemp is part of GNU coreutils package. So don't bother with installation. We will see some practical examples now.

To create a new temporary file, simply run:

$ mktemp

You will see an output like below:


How To Create temporary file using mktemp command in Linux

As you see in the output, a new temporary file with random name "tmp.U0C3cgGFpk" is created in /tmp directory. This file is just an empty file.

You can also create a temporary file with a specified suffix. The following command will create a temporary file with ".txt" extension:

$ mktemp --suffix ".txt"

How about a temporary directory? Yes, it is also possible! To create a temporary directory, use -d option.

$ mktemp -d

This will create a random empty directory in /tmp folder.

Sample output:


Create temporary directory using mktemp command in Linux

All files will be created with u+rw permission, and directories with u+rwx , minus umask restrictions. In other words, the resulting file will have read and write permissions for the current user, but no permissions for the group or others. And the resulting directory will have read, write and executable permissions for the current user, but no permissions for groups or others.

You can verify the file permissions using "ls" command:

$ ls -al /tmp/tmp.U0C3cgGFpk
-rw------- 1 sk sk 0 May 14 13:20 /tmp/tmp.U0C3cgGFpk

Verify the directory permissions using "ls" command:

$ ls -ld /tmp/tmp.PE7tDnm4uN
drwx------ 2 sk sk 4096 May 14 13:25 /tmp/tmp.PE7tDnm4uN

Check file and directory permissions in Linux

Suggested read:

Create temporary files or directories with custom names using mktemp command

As I already said, all files and directories are created with a random file names. We can also create a temporary file or directory with a custom name. To do so, simply add at least 3 consecutive 'X's at the end of the file name like below.

$ mktemp ostechnixXXX

Similarly, to create directory, just run:

$ mktemp -d ostechnixXXX

Please note that if you choose a custom name, the files/directories will be created in the current working directory, not /tmp location . In this case, you need to manually clean up them.

Also, as you may noticed, the X's in the file name are replaced with random characters. You can however add any suffix of your choice.

For instance, I want to add "blog" at the end of the filename. Hence, my command would be:

$ mktemp ostechnixXXX --suffix=blog

Now we do have the suffix "blog" at the end of the filename.

If you don't want to create any file or directory, you can simply perform a dry run like below.

$ mktemp -u

For help, run:

$ mktemp --help
Why do we actually need mktemp?

You might wonder why do we need "mktemp" while we can easily create empty files using "touch filename" command. The mktemp command is mainly used for creating temporary files/directories with random name. So, we don't need to bother figuring out the names. Since mktemp randomizes the names, there won't be any name collision. Also, mktemp creates files safely with permission 600(rw) and directories with permission 700(rwx), so the other users can't access it. For more details, check man pages.

$ man mktemp

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