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Q&A

How to copy files preserving one directory up

+5
−0

Have

mkdir -p d1/d1_sd1/ d2/d2_sd1/
touch d1/d1_sd1/f1.txt d2/d2_sd1/f1.txt
.
├── d1
│   └── d1_sd1
│       └── f1.txt
└── d2
    └── d2_sd1
        └── f1.txt

4 directories, 2 files

Want

.
├── d1
│   └── d1_sd1
│       └── f1.txt
├── d1_sd1
│   └── f1.txt
├── d2
│   └── d2_sd1
│       └── f1.txt
└── d2_sd1
    └── f1.txt

6 directories, 4 files

Question

How do I cp files with a pattern preserving one directory up from the match?

I'd expect a modification to this call:

cp -r d*/*/f1.txt .

Tried

cp -r --parents d*/*/f1.txt .
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2 comment threads

./a/b/c/d ---> ./c/d ? (1 comment)
cp only? Which cp? (3 comments)

1 answer

+2
−0

Assuming innermost directories are not empty, in any POSIX compliant system,

find . -type d -links 2 -exec cp -r {} . \;

In a GNU Linux system, a more performant alternative is

find . -type d -links 2 -exec cp -rt . {} +

since it only spawns an optimal number of cp process (a single one if the size of the argument list is not large).

How does it work?

Counting the number of links is a classical way to distinguish leaf directories, that only have 2 of them (one from its parent, parent/leaf, and one in itself, leaf/.), of other directories.

The -exec option executes the corresponding command for each found file if ; terminated or for the maximum number of files if + terminated. So, for example, the first will spawn

cp -r d1_sd1 .
cp -r d3_sd2 .

while the latter will spawn

cp -rt . d1_sd1 d3_sd2

See that the latter is only possible because the -t option, available in cp from GNU coreutils, allows the target to be specified before the files to be copied. (-exec cp -r {} . + is not valid!)

Before

$ tree
./
├── d1/
│   └── d1_sd1/
│       └── f1.txt
└── d3/
    └── d3_sd1/
        └── d3_sd2/
            └── f1.txt

5 directories, 2 files

After

$ tree
./
├── d1/
│   └── d1_sd1/
│       └── f1.txt
├── d1_sd1/
│   └── f1.txt
├── d3/
│   └── d3_sd1/
│       └── d3_sd2/
│           └── f1.txt
└── d3_sd2/
    └── f1.txt

7 directories, 4 files
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