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CP(1) NetBSD General Commands Manual CP(1)
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cp -- copy files
cp [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-f | -i] [-alNpv] source_file target_file
cp [-R [-H | -L | -P]] [-f | -i] [-alNpv] source_file ...
In the first synopsis form, the cp utility copies the contents of the
source_file to the target_file. In the second synopsis form, the con-
tents of each named source_file is copied to the destination
target_directory. The names of the files themselves are not changed. If
cp detects an attempt to copy a file to itself, the copy will fail.
The following options are available:
-a Archive mode. Same as -RpP.
-f For each existing destination pathname, attempt to overwrite it.
If permissions do not allow copy to succeed, remove it and create a
new file, without prompting for confirmation. (The -i option is
ignored if the -f option is specified.)
-H If the -R option is specified, symbolic links on the command line
are followed. (Symbolic links encountered in the tree traversal
are not followed.)
-i Causes cp to write a prompt to the standard error output before
copying a file that would overwrite an existing file. If the
response from the standard input begins with the character `y', the
file copy is attempted.
-L If the -R option is specified, all symbolic links are followed.
-l Create hard links to regular files in a hierarchy instead of copy-
-N When used with -p, don't copy file flags.
-P No symbolic links are followed. This is the default.
-p Causes cp to preserve in the copy as many of the modification time,
access time, file flags, file mode, user ID, group ID, and extended
attributes, as allowed by permissions.
If the user ID and group ID cannot be preserved due to insufficient
permissions, no error message is displayed and the exit value is
If the source file has its set user ID bit on and the user ID can-
not be preserved, the set user ID bit is not preserved in the
copy's permissions. If the source file has its set group ID bit on
and the group ID cannot be preserved, the set group ID bit is not
preserved in the copy's permissions. If the source file has both
its set user ID and set group ID bits on, and either the user ID or
group ID cannot be preserved, neither the set user ID or set group
ID bits are preserved in the copy's permissions.
Extended attributes from all accessible namespaces are copied; oth-
ers are ignored. If an error occurs during this copy, a message is
displayed and cp skips the other extended attributes for that file.
-R If source_file designates a directory, cp copies the directory and
the entire subtree connected at that point. This option also
causes symbolic links to be copied, rather than followed, and for
cp to create special files rather than copying them as normal
files. Created directories have the same mode as the corresponding
source directory, unmodified by the process's umask.
Note that cp copies hard linked files as separate files. If you
need to preserve hard links, consider using a utility like pax(1)
-v Causes cp to be verbose, showing files as they are copied.
For each destination file that already exists, its contents are overwrit-
ten if permissions allow, but its mode, user ID, and group ID are
In the second synopsis form, target_directory must exist unless there is
only one named source_file which is a directory and the -R flag is speci-
If the destination file does not exist, the mode of the source file is
used as modified by the file mode creation mask (umask, see csh(1)). If
the source file has its set user ID bit on, that bit is removed unless
both the source file and the destination file are owned by the same user.
If the source file has its set group ID bit on, that bit is removed
unless both the source file and the destination file are in the same
group and the user is a member of that group. If both the set user ID
and set group ID bits are set, all of the above conditions must be ful-
filled or both bits are removed.
Appropriate permissions are required for file creation or overwriting.
Symbolic links are always followed unless the -R flag is set, in which
case symbolic links are not followed, by default. The -H or -L flags (in
conjunction with the -R flag), as well as the -P flag cause symbolic
links to be followed as described above. The -H and -L options are
ignored unless the -R option is specified. In addition, these options
override each other and the command's actions are determined by the last
one specified. The default is as if the -P option had been specified.
The cp utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.
Historic versions of the cp utility had a -r option. This implementation
supports that option, however, its use is strongly discouraged, as it
does not correctly copy special files, symbolic links, or FIFOs.
mv(1), pax(1), rcp(1), umask(2), fts(3), symlink(7)
The cp utility is expected to be IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'') compati-
The -a and -l flags are non-standard extensions. They are intended to be
compatible with the same options which other implementations, namely GNU
coreutils and FreeBSD, of this utility have.
The -v option is an extension to IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'').
A cp utility appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
NetBSD 9.2 December 22, 2018 NetBSD 9.2