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29th October 2010 8:49 pm

Deleting Unwanted Vim Swap Files Using Perl

Yesterday I realised that I had somehow managed to scatter Vim swap files all across the Dropbox folder I use to share Perl and Python scripts I’d written between several computers, and it would be a good idea to clear them up. I didn’t like the idea of using grep to search for them and manually deleting them, so I decided this was the ideal opportunity to write a Perl script to do it for me!

I came up with the following:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use Cwd;
sub searchDir
# Subroutine to scan a directory looking for Vim swap files
# Get directory to read and current directory
my $readdir = shift;
my $startdir = cwd();
# Change directory to the target one
chdir($readdir) or die "Unable to open $readdir! $!\n";
print "Scanning contents of directory $startdir\n";
# Open the directory and grab the names of all the files and folders in it
opendir(DIR, ".") or die "Unable to open current directory! $!\n";
my @entries = readdir(DIR) or die "Unable to read directory! $!\n";
# Loop through the files and folders in the directory
foreach my $entry (@entries)
# Skip this one and the one above it in the filesystem hierarchy
next if($entry eq ".");
next if($entry eq "..");
# If a file is a directory, call the searchDir subroutine recursively in order to scan it
if(-d $entry)
# Use a regular expression to check to see if the current file starts with a period, and ends with .swp - if it does, it's a Vim swap file
if($entry =~ m/^\..*\.swp$/)
# Inform the user that a Vim swap file has been found and print out the path to it
print "Found a Vim swap file!\n";
my $swppath = cwd();
print "It's the file $entry in $swppath.\n";
my $fullpath = $swppath . "/" . $entry;
print "The full path is $fullpath.\n";
# Prompt the user to delete the file
print "Do you wish to delete this file? (Y/N)\t";
chomp(my $reply = );
if($reply =~ m/y/i)
print "Deleting $fullpath...\n";
# Get directory to begin the search
print "Enter directory to start search: ";
chomp(my $beginSearch = );
# call searchDir to start the search

Thankfully, I’ve now discovered the Preserve Code Formatting plugin for WordPress, which seems to do a good job at making the code look presentable!

This isn’t perfect - it uses recursion to examine subdirectories, and when I ran it on my /home folder it somehow wound up in /sys on my Ubuntu machine and I ended up getting a deep recursion warning (a little research suggests this happens when it goes over 100 directories in). However, it seems to work fine for scanning individual folders in my /home directory, and that’s all I really wanted anyway.

I love how Perl makes writing this kind of simple script so easy. It’s a great language for that kind of systems administration task.

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About me

I'm a web and mobile app developer based in Norfolk. My skillset includes Python, PHP and Javascript, and I have extensive experience working with CodeIgniter, Laravel, Django, Phonegap and Angular.js.