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Copy maximum

Posted on 2001-06-26
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Last Modified: 2010-04-20
sometimes when I use the cp command to copy files, I get the error code agument list too long.

This happens when I'm using
(1)> cp dira/* dirb/

I can copy the files recursively by using
(2)> cp -r dira/ dirb/
but the files will go to directory "dira/dirb/"

Of course there are many ways to get the files from "dira" to "dirb". Copying them with a script or using other stupid tricks, but my question is, why is there a maximum number for the command (1). And maybe someone has an elegant way to avoid this.
I'm using SUSE.Linux 6.0
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Question by:JWTtheTh
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jlevie earned 100 total points
ID: 6227478
That's a limitation of the shell, not the cp command. When you use wildcards like that the shell expands the wildcard into a list of filenames that it passes to the command. If the wildcard expands to a large number of items the internal buffer in the shell can be filled and the command truncated.

A better way of copying large directories is to use tar in a pipe, like:

# cd dira
# tar cf - . | (cd /path-to/dirb; tar xvf -)
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