cp - copy files and directories


     cp [options] file path
     cp [options] file... directory

     POSIX options:  [-fipRr]

     GNU options (shortest form):  [-abdfilprsuvxPR] [-S  SUFFIX]
     [-V   {numbered,existing,simple}]  [--sparse=WHEN]  [--help]
     [--version] [--]


     cp copies files  (or,  optionally,  directories).   You  can
     either  copy  one file to a given destination, or copy arbi-
     trarily many files to a destination directory.

     If the last argument names an existing directory, cp  copies
     each  source  file  into  that directory (retaining the same
     name).  Otherwise, if only two files are  given,  it  copies
     the first onto the second.  It is an error if the last argu-
     ment is not a directory and more than two  non-option  argu-
     ments are given.

     (Thus, `cp -r /a /b' will copy /a to /b/a and /a/x to /b/a/x
     in  case  /b  exists  already, but it will copy /a to /b and
     /a/x to /b/x if there was no /b beforehand.)

     The modes of the files and directories created will  be  the
     same  as  those  of  the  original files, ANDed by 0777, and
     modified by the user's  umask  (unless  the  -p  option  was
     specified).   (But during the recursive copy of directories,
     newly created directories will temporarily get  their  final
     mode ORed with S_IRWXU (0700), so as to allow the process to
     read, write and search the newly created directory.)

     Nothing is done when copying a file to itself (except possi-
     bly  producing  an  error  message).  When copying to a dif-
     ferent  existing  file,  it  is  opened  using   `open(path,
     O_WRONLY  |  O_TRUNC)'.   When  copying  to a new file it is
     created using `open(path, O_WRONLY |  O_CREAT,  mode)'.   If
     this  fails,  the file existed, and the -f option was given,
     cp tries to delete (unlink) the existing file, and  if  this
     succeeds proceeds as for a new file.


     POSIX recognizes four options and a half:

     -f   Remove existing destination  files  if  required.  (See

     -i   Prompt whether to overwrite existing  regular  destina-
          tion  files.  (Write a question on stderr, and read the
          answer from  stdin.   Only  copy  upon  an  affirmative

     -p   Preserve the original files' owner, group,  permissions
          (including  the  setuid  and setgid bits), time of last
          modification and time of last access.  In case duplica-
          tion  of  owner  or  group fails, the setuid and setgid
          bits are cleared.  (Note  that  afterwards  source  and
          copy  may  well  have  different  times of last access,
          since the copy operation is an  access  to  the  source

     -R   Copy directories recursively, and do  the  right  thing
          when  objects  other than ordinary files or directories
          are encountered.  (Thus, the copy of a FIFO or  special
          file is a FIFO or special file.)

     -r   Copy directories recursively, and do something unspeci-
          fied  with  objects other than ordinary files or direc-
          tories.  (Thus, it is allowed, in fact  encouraged,  to
          have  the  -r  option  a synonym for -R. However, silly
          behaviour, like that of the present GNU version  of  cp
          (see below) is not forbidden.)


     Generally, files are written just as  they  are  read.   For
     exceptions, see the --sparse option below.

     By default, `cp' does not copy directories (see -r below).

     cp generally refuses to copy a file onto  itself,  with  the
     following  exception:  if --force --backup is specified with
     source and dest identical, and referring to a regular  file,
     cp  will  make a backup file, either regular or numbered, as
     specified in the usual ways.  This is useful when you simply
     want  to  make  a backup of an existing file before changing


     -a, --archive
          Preserve as much  as  possible  of  the  structure  and
          attributes  of  the  original files in the copy (but do
          not preserve directory structure).  Equivalent to -dpR.

     -d, --no-dereference
          Copy symbolic links as symbolic links rather than copy-
          ing  the  files  that  they point to, and preserve hard
          links between source files in the copies.

     -f, --force
          Remove existing destination files.

     -i, --interactive
          Prompt whether to overwrite existing  regular  destina-
          tion files.

     -l, --link
          Make hard links instead of copies of non-directories.

     -p, --preserve
          Preserve the original files' owner, group, permissions,
          and timestamps.

     -P, --parents
          Form the name of each destination file by appending  to
          the  target directory a slash and the specified name of
          the source file.  The last argument given to cp must be
          the  name  of  an existing directory.  For example, the
              cp --parents a/b/c existing_dir
          copies the file `a/b/c' to `existing_dir/a/b/c', creat-
          ing any missing intermediate directories.

     -r   Copy  directories   recursively,   copying   any   non-
          directories  and non-symbolic links (that is, FIFOs and
          special files) as if they  were  regular  files.   This
          means  trying  to read the data in each source file and
          writing it to the destination.  Thus, with this option,
          `cp'  may  well  hang  indefinitely  reading  a FIFO or
          /dev/tty.  (This is a bug. It means that  you  have  to
          avoid  -r  and  use -R if you don't know what is in the
          tree you are copying. Opening an unknown  device  file,
          say a scanner, has unknown effects on the hardware.)

     -R, --recursive
          Copy   directories   recursively,    preserving    non-
          directories (see -r just above).

          A `sparse file' contains `holes' -  sequences  of  zero
          bytes  that do not occupy any physical disk blocks; the
          `read' system call reads these  as  zeroes.   This  can
          both  save  considerable disk space and increase speed,
          since many binary files  contain  lots  of  consecutive
          zero  bytes.   By  default, `cp' detects holes in input
          source files  via  a  crude  heuristic  and  makes  the
          corresponding output file sparse as well.

          The WHEN value can be one of the following:

          auto The default behavior: the output file is sparse if
               the input file is sparse.

               Always make the output file sparse.  This is  use-
               ful  when  the  input file resides on a filesystem
               that does not support sparse files, but the output
               file is on a filesystem that does.

               Never make the output file sparse.  If you find an
               application for this option, let us know.

     -s, --symbolic-link
          Make  symbolic  links  instead  of   copies   of   non-
          directories.   All  source  file names must be absolute
          (starting with `/') unless the destination files are in
          the  current  directory.  This option merely results in
          an error message on systems that do  not  support  sym-
          bolic links.

     -u, --update
          Do not copy a nondirectory that has an existing  desti-
          nation with the same or newer modification time.

     -v, --verbose
          Print the name of each file before copying it.

     -x, --one-file-system
          Skip subdirectories that are on  different  filesystems
          from the one that the copy started on.


     The GNU versions of programs like cp, mv,  ln,  install  and
     patch  will  make a backup of files about to be overwritten,
     changed or destroyed if that is desired. That  backup  files
     are  desired  is indicated by the -b option. How they should
     be named is specified by the -V option.  In case the name of
     the backup file is given by the name of the file extended by
     a suffix, this suffix is specified by the -S option.

     -b, --backup
          Make backups of files that are about to be  overwritten
          or removed.

     -S SUFFIX, --suffix=SUFFIX
          Append SUFFIX to each backup file made.  If this option
          is not specified, the value of the SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX
          environment    variable    is     used.      And     if
          SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX is not set, the default is `~'.

     -V METHOD, --version-control=METHOD
          Specify how backup files are named. The METHOD argument
          can  be  `numbered' (or `t'), `existing' (or `nil'), or
          `never'  (or  `simple').   If  this   option   is   not
          specified, the value of the VERSION_CONTROL environment
          variable is used.  And if VERSION_CONTROL is  not  set,
          the default backup type is `existing'.

          This  option  corresponds   to   the   Emacs   variable
          `version-control'.    The  valid  METHODs  are  (unique
          abbreviations are accepted):

          t, numbered
               Always make numbered backups.

          nil, existing
               Make numbered backups of files that  already  have
               them, simple backups of the others.

          never, simple
               Always make simple backups.


          Print a usage message on standard output and exit  suc-

          Print version information on standard output, then exit

     --   Terminate option list.


     The  variables  LANG,  LC_ALL,  LC_COLLATE,   LC_CTYPE   and
     LC_MESSAGES have the usual meaning. For the GNU version, the
     variables SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX and  VERSION_CONTROL  control
     backup file naming, as described above.


     POSIX 1003.2


     This page describes cp as found in the fileutils-3.16  pack-
     age;  other  versions  may differ slightly. Mail corrections
     and additions to  and  and  .   Report bugs in the program to