cp, mv, rm, ln, cpdir, clone - copy, move, remove, link
cp [-pifsmrRvx] file1 file2
cp [-pifsrRvx] file ... dir
mv [-ifsmvx] file1 file2
mv [-ifsvx] file ... dir
rm [-ifrRvx] file ...
ln [-ifsSmrRvx] file1 file2
ln [-ifsSrRvx] file ... dir
cpdir [-ifvx] file1 file2
clone [-ifsSvx] file1 file2
The utilities cp, mv, rm, and ln do basic file management: copying,
renaming or moving, deletion, and creating links. (The cpdir and clone
utilities are easy to use aliases for copying or linking whole trees.
They are the same as cp -psmr and ln -fmr)
The first synopsis form of the utilities cp, mv, and ln is used if only
two arguments are given, and the second argument is not a directory. The
source and target file are then the two files given.
If the second synopsis form is used then the last argument must be a
directory. Each of the files is copied, moved or linked into this
A file is by default copied by cp without looking at its type, so
symlinks are followed and devices are opened and read from or written to.
Links between files are ignored. This behavior can be changed by using
the proper options.
The mv utility uses the rename(2) call to rename or move files. If
source and target are on different devices however, then mv will use cp
-pr to copy the files or directory trees.
Each utility continues with the next file on errors, except on I/O
-p Copy the file attributes like mode, owner, group and time of last
modification. Normally only the mode is copied to a new file with
the file creation mask applied. Setuid bits are cleared if setting
the ownership fails.
-i Ask if ok to overwrite, replace or remove. Mv and rm will ask this
automatically if interactive and the target file is writable. Cp
will fail if the target cannot be written, ln will always fail if
the target exists.
-f Makes cp remove a target file before copying if it is not writable,
mv removes an existing target without asking, rm does not report any
errors, and ln removes an existing target file before linking. The
last of -i and -f wins for mv if both flags are set, the other
utilities do something sensible, like asking before forcefully
-s Make a symlink instead of a normal link. For utilities other than
ln this flag means "copy similar". The modified time is always
copied for cp -s and the other attributes are copied if a new file
is created. The normal POSIX required patronizing like applying the
file creation mask or clearing setuid bits is not done.
-S Make a symlink if a normal link cannot be made because source and
target are on different devices. The symlink is required to really
refer back to the source, meaning that a/b must exist in the call ln
-S a/b c/d, and that the symlink from c/d must lead back to a/b. So
the symlink will be created as if ln -s ../a/b c/d was called. If
the target is a full path, but the source is not then an error will
be given saying that this is "too difficult."
-m Merge trees. The first synopsis form is assumed, and the files from
one tree are merged into the other. There is no "if it's a
directory the put it into that directory" trickery here.
Recursively copy, remove, or link. If the source is a directory
then the files in this directory are copied to similarly named files
in the target directory. Special files are copied as new special
files, they are not read or written. Symlinks are still expanded
and the link structure ignored with -R. The -r flag does copy
symlinks as symlinks and keeps the link structure intact. (Note
that -R is invented by POSIX as a replacement for the classic -r
option of older copy commands that did read special files. The
standard says that -r is implementation defined, so that's why this
flag is better than -R in this implementation of cp.) For rm and ln
both flags mean the same. Ln will recursively link the files in the
trees, except symlinks, they are copied. If symlinks are created
with ln -rs or ln -rS then they are required "to work" as described
with the -S flag.
-v Verbose. Show what is done on standard output.
-x Do not cross mount points. Empty directories will be created if the
source directory is a mount point on a copy, move or link. A mount
point will not be removed or traversed recursively. This flag
allows one to copy the root device, e.g. cpdir -x / /mnt.
cat(1), mkdir(1), rmdir(1), mkdir(2), rmdir(2), link(2), unlink(2),
rename(2), open(2), read(2), write(2), opendir(3).
All the utilities described are links to the same program.
Mv should first copy a tree across devices and then remove the source
tree if there was no error. Instead, each file in the tree is copied and
immediately removed. On error you may be left with two half-filled
trees, together containing all of the files. You may have to restart the
move with mv -m.
Rm should be able to remove arbitrarily deep trees.
Kees J. Bot (email@example.com)