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bug#61767: install: options --compare (-C) and --preserve-timestamps are

From: Frank Heckenbach
Subject: bug#61767: install: options --compare (-C) and --preserve-timestamps are mutually exclusive
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2023 17:14:24 +0100


% install -C -p x y
install: options --compare (-C) and --preserve-timestamps are mutually exclusive
Try 'install --help' for more information.
% install --help
Usage: install [OPTION]... [-T] SOURCE DEST
  or:  install [OPTION]... SOURCE... DIRECTORY
  or:  install [OPTION]... -t DIRECTORY SOURCE...
  or:  install [OPTION]... -d DIRECTORY...

This install program copies files (often just compiled) into destination
locations you choose.  If you want to download and install a ready-to-use
package on a GNU/Linux system, you should instead be using a package manager
like yum(1) or apt-get(1).

In the first three forms, copy SOURCE to DEST or multiple SOURCE(s) to
the existing DIRECTORY, while setting permission modes and owner/group.
In the 4th form, create all components of the given DIRECTORY(ies).

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.
      --backup[=CONTROL]  make a backup of each existing destination file
  -b                  like --backup but does not accept an argument
  -c                  (ignored)
  -C, --compare       compare each pair of source and destination files, and
                        in some cases, do not modify the destination at all
  -d, --directory     treat all arguments as directory names; create all
                        components of the specified directories
  -D                  create all leading components of DEST except the last,
                        or all components of --target-directory,
                        then copy SOURCE to DEST
  -g, --group=GROUP   set group ownership, instead of process' current group
  -m, --mode=MODE     set permission mode (as in chmod), instead of rwxr-xr-x
  -o, --owner=OWNER   set ownership (super-user only)
  -p, --preserve-timestamps   apply access/modification times of SOURCE files
                        to corresponding destination files
  -s, --strip         strip symbol tables
      --strip-program=PROGRAM  program used to strip binaries
  -S, --suffix=SUFFIX  override the usual backup suffix
  -t, --target-directory=DIRECTORY  copy all SOURCE arguments into DIRECTORY
  -T, --no-target-directory  treat DEST as a normal file
  -v, --verbose       print the name of each directory as it is created
      --preserve-context  preserve SELinux security context
  -Z                      set SELinux security context of destination
                            file and each created directory to default type
      --context[=CTX]     like -Z, or if CTX is specified then set the
                            SELinux or SMACK security context to CTX
      --help     display this help and exit
      --version  output version information and exit

The backup suffix is '~', unless set with --suffix or SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX.
The version control method may be selected via the --backup option or through
the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable.  Here are the values:

  none, off       never make backups (even if --backup is given)
  numbered, t     make numbered backups
  existing, nil   numbered if numbered backups exist, simple otherwise
  simple, never   always make simple backups

GNU coreutils online help: <https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/>
Report any translation bugs to <https://translationproject.org/team/>
Full documentation <https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/install>
or available locally via: info '(coreutils) install invocation'
% install --version
install (GNU coreutils) 8.32
Copyright (C) 2020 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <https://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Written by David MacKenzie.


I see no explanation there why these options should be mutually exclusive.
(RTFS did not reveal any insight either.)

If the error message is unnecessary, please remove it.

Otherwise, please provide an explanation why and possible workarounds.

What I want to achieve is to preserve timestamps and to avoid doing extra work.
Both goals seem rather natural, and I see no reason why they should not be 

(In fact it seems "-p" should make it *easier* to implement "-C" as
timestamps will compare equal when nothing's changed. Then again,
need_copy() doesn't seem to care about times at all, so why should
it be incompatible with "-p"?)

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