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bug#61537: [Bug-coreutils] 'cp -au' re-copies (removes and relinks) hard

From: Antonio Diaz Diaz
Subject: bug#61537: [Bug-coreutils] 'cp -au' re-copies (removes and relinks) hard links that are up to date
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2023 19:58:22 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i586; en-US; rv: Gecko/20110420 SeaMonkey/2.0.14


I have been forced recently to update my coreutils 8.11 (because 'touch' in 8.11 didn't understand the dates with a 'T' separator passed to it by the configure of another GNU package I was installing) and have found that 'cp -au' now re-copies (removes and relinks) hard links that are up to date and it didn't recopy with 8.11.

I have tried coreutils 8.23 and 9.1, but I think all versions after 8.11 have this problem.

To illustrate the problem, I first create a directory 'src' containing two linked files and then make a copy of 'src' in 'dest':

$ md src
$ echo "foo" > src/a
$ ln src/a src/b
$ cp -auv src dest
'src' -> 'dest'
'src/a' -> 'dest/a'
'src/b' -> 'dest/b'

Now, every time I update 'dest' using 'cp -au', it removes and relinks 'dest/b' in spite of it already being a link to 'dest/a':

$ cp -auv src/* dest
removed 'dest/b'

But with 'cp' from coreutils 8.11, 'dest/b' was not recopied:

$ /tmp/coreutils-8.11/src/cp -auv src/* dest

Can current 'cp' be fixed so that it notices that the destination is already updated, and thus avoids removing and relinking it, just as it did in coreutils 8.11?


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