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Linux in a Nutshell

This directory of Linux commands is from Linux in a Nutshell, 5th Edition.

Click on any of the 687 commands below to get a description and list of available options. All links in the command summaries point to the online version of the book on Safari Bookshelf.

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cp

cp [options] file1 file2 cp [options] files directory

Copy file1 to file2, or copy one or more files to the same names under directory. If the destination is an existing file, the file is overwritten; if the destination is an existing directory, the file is copied into the directory (the directory is not overwritten).

Options

-a, --archive

Preserve attributes of original files where possible. The same as -dpr.

-b, --backup

Back up files that would otherwise be overwritten.

-d, --no-dereference

Do not dereference symbolic links; preserve hard-link relationships between source and copy.

-f, --force

Remove existing files in the destination.

-i, --interactive

Prompt before overwriting destination files. On most systems, this flag is turned off by default except for the root user, who is normally prompted before overwriting files.

-l, --link

Make hard links, not copies, of nondirectories.

-p, --preserve

Preserve all information, including owner, group, permissions, and timestamps.

-P, --parents

Preserve intermediate directories in source. The last argument must be the name of an existing directory. For example, the command:

cp --parents jphekman/book/ch1 newdir

copies the file jphekman/book/ch1 to the file newdir/jphekman/book/ch1, creating intermediate directories as necessary.

-r, -R, --recursive

Copy directories recursively.

-S backup-suffix, --suffix=backup-suffix

Set suffix to be appended to backup files. This may also be set with the SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX environment variable. The default is ~. You need to explicitly include a period if you want one before the suffix (for example, specify .bak, not bak).

-s, --symbolic-link

Make symbolic links instead of copying. Source filenames must be absolute.

--sparse=[always|auto|never]

Handle files that have "holes" (are defined as a certain size but have less data). always creates a sparse file, auto creates one if the input file is sparse, and never creates a non-sparse file without holes.

-u, --update

Do not copy a file to an existing destination with the same or newer modification time.

-v, --verbose

Before copying, print the name of each file.

-V type, --version-control=type

Set the type of backups made. You may also use the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable. The default is existing. Valid arguments are:

t, numbered

Always make numbered backups.

nil, existing

Make numbered backups of files that already have them; otherwise, make simple backups.

never, simple

Always make simple backups.

-x, --one-file-system

Ignore subdirectories on other filesystems.

Example

Copy the contents of the guest directory recursively into the /archives/guest/ directory, and display a message for each file copied:

cd /archives && cp -av /home/guest guest