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Use tar to copy files from one directory to another

This post shows how to use tar to copy files from one directory to another.

cd ~
mkdir ~/tartest
cd ~/tartest

mkdir -p from/
mkdir -p from/path/sub/
touch from/path/sub/test.txt
mkdir -p from/path/sub/folder
touch from/path/sub/folder/test.txt

tar -C from/ -cvf test.tar path/sub/

# You should see:
# path/sub/
# path/sub/folder/
# path/sub/folder/test.txt
# path/sub/test.txt

tar -tf test.tar

# You should see:
# path/sub/
# path/sub/folder/
# path/sub/folder/test.txt
# path/sub/test.txt

mkdir -p to/
tar -C to/ -xvf test.tar

find to/

# You should see:
# to/
# to/path
# to/path/sub
# to/path/sub/folder
# to/path/sub/folder/test.txt
# to/path/sub/test.txt

cd ~
find tartest

# You should see:
# tartest
# tartest/to
# tartest/to/path
# tartest/to/path/sub
# tartest/to/path/sub/folder
# tartest/to/path/sub/folder/test.txt
# tartest/to/path/sub/test.txt
# tartest/test.tar
# tartest/from
# tartest/from/path
# tartest/from/path/sub
# tartest/from/path/sub/folder
# tartest/from/path/sub/folder/test.txt
# tartest/from/path/sub/test.txt

# Reset the test
cd ~
rm -rf ~/tartest

tar --version

tar (GNU tar) 1.28 Copyright (C) 2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>. This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law. Written by John Gilmore and Jay Fenlason.

tar --help

defaults in bold

Usage: tar [OPTION...] [FILE]... GNU 'tar' saves many files together into a single tape or disk archive, and can restore individual files from the archive. Examples: tar -cf archive.tar foo bar # Create archive.tar from files foo and bar. tar -tvf archive.tar # List all files in archive.tar verbosely. tar -xf archive.tar # Extract all files from archive.tar. Main operation mode: -A, --catenate, --concatenate append tar files to an archive -c, --create create a new archive -d, --diff, --compare find differences between archive and file system --delete delete from the archive (not on mag tapes!) -r, --append append files to the end of an archive -t, --list list the contents of an archive --test-label test the archive volume label and exit -u, --update only append files newer than copy in archive -x, --extract, --get extract files from an archive Operation modifiers: --check-device check device numbers when creating incremental archives (default) -g, --listed-incremental=FILE handle new GNU-format incremental backup -G, --incremental handle old GNU-format incremental backup --ignore-failed-read do not exit with nonzero on unreadable files --level=NUMBER dump level for created listed-incremental archive -n, --seek archive is seekable --no-check-device do not check device numbers when creating incremental archives --no-seek archive is not seekable --occurrence[=NUMBER] process only the NUMBERth occurrence of each file in the archive; this option is valid only in conjunction with one of the subcommands --delete, --diff, --extract or --list and when a list of files is given either on the command line or via the -T option; NUMBER defaults to 1 --sparse-version=MAJOR[.MINOR] set version of the sparse format to use (implies --sparse) -S, --sparse handle sparse files efficiently Overwrite control: -k, --keep-old-files don't replace existing files when extracting, treat them as errors --keep-directory-symlink preserve existing symlinks to directories when extracting --keep-newer-files don't replace existing files that are newer than their archive copies --no-overwrite-dir preserve metadata of existing directories --one-top-level[=DIR] create a subdirectory to avoid having loose files extracted --overwrite overwrite existing files when extracting --overwrite-dir overwrite metadata of existing directories when extracting (default) --recursive-unlink empty hierarchies prior to extracting directory --remove-files remove files after adding them to the archive --skip-old-files don't replace existing files when extracting, silently skip over them -U, --unlink-first remove each file prior to extracting over it -W, --verify attempt to verify the archive after writing it Select output stream: --ignore-command-error ignore exit codes of children --no-ignore-command-error treat non-zero exit codes of children as error -O, --to-stdout extract files to standard output --to-command=COMMAND pipe extracted files to another program Handling of file attributes: --atime-preserve[=METHOD] preserve access times on dumped files, either by restoring the times after reading (METHOD='replace'; default) or by not setting the times in the first place (METHOD='system') --clamp-mtime only set time when the file is more recent than what was given with --mtime --delay-directory-restore delay setting modification times and permissions of extracted directories until the end of extraction --group=NAME force NAME as group for added files --mode=CHANGES force (symbolic) mode CHANGES for added files --mtime=DATE-OR-FILE set mtime for added files from DATE-OR-FILE -m, --touch don't extract file modified time --no-delay-directory-restore cancel the effect of --delay-directory-restore option --no-same-owner extract files as yourself (default for ordinary users) --no-same-permissions apply the user's umask when extracting permissions from the archive (default for ordinary users) --numeric-owner always use numbers for user/group names --owner=NAME force NAME as owner for added files -p, --preserve-permissions, --same-permissions extract information about file permissions (default for superuser) --preserve same as both -p and -s --same-owner try extracting files with the same ownership as exists in the archive (default for superuser) -s, --preserve-order, --same-order member arguments are listed in the same order as the files in the archive --sort=ORDER directory sorting order: none (default), name or inode Handling of extended file attributes: --acls Enable the POSIX ACLs support --no-acls Disable the POSIX ACLs support --no-selinux Disable the SELinux context support --no-xattrs Disable extended attributes support --selinux Enable the SELinux context support --xattrs Enable extended attributes support --xattrs-exclude=MASK specify the exclude pattern for xattr keys --xattrs-include=MASK specify the include pattern for xattr keys Device selection and switching: -f, --file=ARCHIVE use archive file or device ARCHIVE --force-local archive file is local even if it has a colon -F, --info-script=NAME, --new-volume-script=NAME run script at end of each tape (implies -M) -L, --tape-length=NUMBER change tape after writing NUMBER x 1024 bytes -M, --multi-volume create/list/extract multi-volume archive --rmt-command=COMMAND use given rmt COMMAND instead of rmt --rsh-command=COMMAND use remote COMMAND instead of rsh --volno-file=FILE use/update the volume number in FILE Device blocking: -b, --blocking-factor=BLOCKS BLOCKS x 512 bytes per record -B, --read-full-records reblock as we read (for 4.2BSD pipes) -i, --ignore-zeros ignore zeroed blocks in archive (means EOF) --record-size=NUMBER NUMBER of bytes per record, multiple of 512 Archive format selection: -H, --format=FORMAT create archive of the given format FORMAT is one of the following: gnu GNU tar 1.13.x format oldgnu GNU format as per tar <= 1.12 pax POSIX 1003.1-2001 (pax) format posix same as pax ustar POSIX 1003.1-1988 (ustar) format v7 old V7 tar format --old-archive, --portability same as --format=v7 --pax-option=keyword[[:]=value][,keyword[[:]=value]]... control pax keywords --posix same as --format=posix -V, --label=TEXT create archive with volume name TEXT; at list/extract time, use TEXT as a globbing pattern for volume name Compression options: -a, --auto-compress use archive suffix to determine the compression program -I, --use-compress-program=PROG filter through PROG (must accept -d) -j, --bzip2 filter the archive through bzip2 -J, --xz filter the archive through xz --lzip filter the archive through lzip --lzma filter the archive through xz --lzop filter the archive through xz --no-auto-compress do not use archive suffix to determine the compression program -z, --gzip, --gunzip, --ungzip filter the archive through gzip -Z, --compress, --uncompress filter the archive through compress Local file selection: --add-file=FILE add given FILE to the archive (useful if its name starts with a dash) --backup[=CONTROL] backup before removal, choose version CONTROL -C, --directory=DIR change to directory DIR --exclude=PATTERN exclude files, given as a PATTERN --exclude-backups exclude backup and lock files --exclude-caches exclude contents of directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG, except for the tag file itself --exclude-caches-all exclude directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG --exclude-caches-under exclude everything under directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG --exclude-ignore=FILE read exclude patterns for each directory from FILE, if it exists --exclude-ignore-recursive=FILE read exclude patterns for each directory and its subdirectories from FILE, if it exists --exclude-tag=FILE exclude contents of directories containing FILE, except for FILE itself --exclude-tag-all=FILE exclude directories containing FILE --exclude-tag-under=FILE exclude everything under directories containing FILE --exclude-vcs exclude version control system directories --exclude-vcs-ignores read exclude patterns from the VCS ignore files -h, --dereference follow symlinks; archive and dump the files they point to --hard-dereference follow hard links; archive and dump the files they refer to -K, --starting-file=MEMBER-NAME begin at member MEMBER-NAME when reading the archive --newer-mtime=DATE compare date and time when data changed only --no-null disable the effect of the previous --null option --no-recursion avoid descending automatically in directories --no-unquote do not unquote input file or member names --null -T reads null-terminated names, disable -C -N, --newer=DATE-OR-FILE, --after-date=DATE-OR-FILE only store files newer than DATE-OR-FILE --one-file-system stay in local file system when creating archive -P, --absolute-names don't strip leading '/'s from file names --recursion recurse into directories (default) --suffix=STRING backup before removal, override usual suffix ('~' unless overridden by environment variable SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX) -T, --files-from=FILE get names to extract or create from FILE --unquote unquote input file or member names (default) -X, --exclude-from=FILE exclude patterns listed in FILE File name transformations: --strip-components=NUMBER strip NUMBER leading components from file names on extraction --transform=EXPRESSION, --xform=EXPRESSION use sed replace EXPRESSION to transform file names File name matching options (affect both exclude and include patterns): --anchored patterns match file name start --ignore-case ignore case --no-anchored patterns match after any '/' (default for exclusion) --no-ignore-case case sensitive matching (default) --no-wildcards verbatim string matching --no-wildcards-match-slash wildcards do not match '/' --wildcards use wildcards (default for exclusion) --wildcards-match-slash wildcards match '/' (default for exclusion) Informative output: --checkpoint[=NUMBER] display progress messages every NUMBERth record (default 10) --checkpoint-action=ACTION execute ACTION on each checkpoint --full-time print file time to its full resolution --index-file=FILE send verbose output to FILE -l, --check-links print a message if not all links are dumped --no-quote-chars=STRING disable quoting for characters from STRING --quote-chars=STRING additionally quote characters from STRING --quoting-style=STYLE set name quoting style; see below for valid STYLE values -R, --block-number show block number within archive with each message --show-defaults show tar defaults --show-omitted-dirs when listing or extracting, list each directory that does not match search criteria --show-snapshot-field-ranges show valid ranges for snapshot-file fields --show-transformed-names, --show-stored-names show file or archive names after transformation --totals[=SIGNAL] print total bytes after processing the archive; with an argument - print total bytes when this SIGNAL is delivered; Allowed signals are: SIGHUP, SIGQUIT, SIGINT, SIGUSR1 and SIGUSR2; the names without SIG prefix are also accepted --utc print file modification times in UTC -v, --verbose verbosely list files processed --warning=KEYWORD warning control -w, --interactive, --confirmation ask for confirmation for every action Compatibility options: -o when creating, same as --old-archive; when extracting, same as --no-same-owner Other options: -?, --help give this help list --restrict disable use of some potentially harmful options --usage give a short usage message --version print program version Mandatory or optional arguments to long options are also mandatory or optional for any corresponding short options. The backup suffix is '~', unless set with --suffix or SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX. The version control may be set with --backup or VERSION_CONTROL, values are: none, off never make backups t, numbered make numbered backups nil, existing numbered if numbered backups exist, simple otherwise never, simple always make simple backups Valid arguments for the --quoting-style option are: literal shell shell-always c c-maybe escape locale clocale *This* tar defaults to: --format=gnu -f- -b20 --quoting-style=escape --rmt-command=/usr/lib/tar/rmt --rsh-command=/usr/bin/rsh Report bugs to <>.


GNU image from [link].



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