Graham Christensen

How to delete all (or most) jobs from a beanstalk tube from the shell

posted on August 30 2013

How to delete all (or most) jobs from a beanstalk tube from the shell

Sometimes I need to delete lots of jobs from my beanstalk tube. In this particular case, I added 3 jobs per site every day for the last few weeks. These jobs are how ZippyKid performs maintenance on Customer websites. Snitch reports the WordPress version in use, as well as updating ZippyKid specific configuration.

Since we were triple queueing each site, we weren’t able to keep up with the work. New sites were not getting updated in our client inventory system. No customers saw any issues, but our internal status portal’s data was stale. I stumbled across this graph of the tube, and that explained it.

Now, Beanstalk doesn’t have a built-in way to clear out jobs en masse. I also wasn’t particularly interested in using a library to send a few basic commands.

Instead, what I came up with was a concise expect script. The script only uses tools installed on the vast majority of Linux systems:

The Code

#!/usr/bin/expect -f
# Filename: beanstalk-purge
set timeout 1

spawn telnet [lindex $argv 0] [lindex $argv 1]
sleep 1
send "use [lindex $argv 2]\n"
expect "USING"

for {set i 1} {$i < [lindex $argv 3]} { incr i 1 } {
    send_user "Proccessing $i\n"
    expect -re {.*} {}
    send "peek-ready\n"
    expect -re {FOUND (\d*) \d*}
    send "delete $expect_out(1,string)\n"
    expect "DELETED"


beanstalk-purge <host> <port> <tube> <count>


beanstalk-purge 11300 35000

Delete the first 35,000 jobs out of the tube on the beanstalk server located at


Graham works for Tumblr and is infatuated by NixOS.