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How to make patch files

This must be an FAQ, but I cannot find it anyway. The linux guys produces patches for their source tree when moving from one version ot another
and I can do a

patch -p0 < patch

to upgrade the src tree.

So how are these patches made?

Suppose I have two versions of something




each source tree has a bunch of subdirectories in, containing any files which might change. How do I make a patch file so that someone has their source code in


can patch from one version to another.

Thanks in advance,
Nicholas Waltham
1 Solution
You use diff with the recursive option (-r) to compare both directory trees. The recommended way (from the patch man page) is to use "diff -Naur old new", where "old" is the orginal and "new" is the modified directory trees. It's best if the timestamps are in UTC and this can be accomplished by:

>LC_ALL=C TZ=UTC0 diff -Naur old-dir new-dir

All of this and more is in the "NOTES FOR PATCH SENDERS" at the end of the man page for patch.
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