Installwatch is Copyright 1998 by Pancrazio `Ezio' de Mauro. After a year I finally had a chance to talk to him, and he seemed happy to know that installwatch had continued it's development ;-), he has some interesting ideas for new features, which will probably be included in future versions.
Installwatch-0.6.3 is out, the included test-installwatch program is working again, thanks to Olivier Fleurigeon.
The previous version (0.6.2) fixes two additional file descriptor leaks that were still causing the "Too many open files" problem to some people when installing large packages with CheckInstall.
Installwatch 0.6.x series are capable of saving all overwritten/deleted files, before actually calling the catched system call.
This has lots of applications, one of them is showed in the CheckInstall program. With this, you can even monitor when you install a binary package in your distribution (RPM or Slackware) without worrying about overwriting customized configuration files, for example. Keep an eye on CheckInstall, to which I'll be adding new features as I continue the development of Installwatch.
It's worth to note that Installwatch is now part of the CheckInstall distribution. However, I've made a separate section for it so it can be easier to track it's changes and keep everybody posted about them. The inst2rpm contributed script that used to be inside Installwatch's source distribution is not written nor mantained by me, as it is largely superseded by CheckInstall. If you still want to get it, you can download an older version (0.5.6) of Installwatch below.
Now here's the Installwatch's description written by it's author. You can find it also in the README:
Installwatch is an extremely simple utility I wrote to keep track of
created and modified files during the installation of a new program.
It's fast and easy to use. It doesn't require a ``pre-install'' phase
because it monitors processes while they run.
Installwatch works with every dynamically linked ELF program,
overriding system calls that cause file system alterations. Some of
such system calls are open(2) and unlink(2).
Installwatch is especially useful on RedHat, Debian and similar
distributions, where you can use a package system to keep track
of installed software.
Of course a simple `make install' does not update the package database,
making your installation ``dirty'' -- well, kind of.
If your room is a mess but you make RPMS even for your home directory,
then installwatch is for you.