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bug#5918: [dd] conv=sparse option

From: Pádraig Brady
Subject: bug#5918: [dd] conv=sparse option
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2010 16:33:07 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100227 Thunderbird/3.0.3

On 10/04/10 01:28, Heinrich Langos wrote:
> Hello Andreas, Samuel and list,
> sorry to pick up such an old thread, but I stumbled upon it while
> looking for an efficient way to "re-sparse" files that contain a 
> lot of zero blocks but 
> 1) had already been expanded 
> or 
> 2) are being expanded due to pipes.
> On Sun, Dec 30, 2007 at 10:19:54AM +0100, Andreas Schwab wrote:
>> Samuel Thibault <address@hidden> writes:
>>> Some time ago, I wrote a conv=sparse option for dd, attached is the
>>> patch.
>> How is it different from cp --sparse=always?
> I'd say in enough ways to make such an option highly desirable.
> a) "dd" will maintain an existing of=target file including the inode 
>    number, thus respecting existing hard links. "cp" will depending 
>    on the other options given (e.g. "-a") maintain or break existing 
>    hard links to an existing target file.

I don't think that's possible as holes can only be created at the end of a file.
Well I think NTFS supports punching holes in the "middle" but it's not common.

> b) "dd" could read a stream from a device or stdin and write it directly 
>    to a sparse file. no need to "dd" from e.g. a block device to a file and 
>    afterwards do a "cp --sparse=always file sparse-file". this will save a 
>    lot of disk space, io operations and time.

This seems to work:
cp --sparse=always /dev/stdin file


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