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Comparing and Merging Files with GNU diff and patch
by David MacKenzie, Paul Eggert, and Richard Stallman
Paperback (6"x9"), 120 pages
ISBN 0954161750
RRP £12.95 ($19.95)

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15.1 Options to patch

Here is a summary of all of the options that GNU patch accepts. See section 10.13 GNU patch and Traditional patch, for which of these options are safe to use in older versions of patch.

Multiple single-letter options that do not take an argument can be combined into a single command line argument with only one dash.

-b
--backup
Back up the original contents of each file, even if backups would normally not be made. See section 10.8 Backup Files.
-B prefix
--prefix=prefix
Prepend prefix to backup file names. See section 10.9 Backup File Names.
--backup-if-mismatch
Back up the original contents of each file if the patch does not exactly match the file. This is the default behavior when not conforming to POSIX. See section 10.8 Backup Files.
--binary
Read and write all files in binary mode, except for standard output and ‘/dev/tty’. This option has no effect on POSIX-conforming systems like GNU/Linux. On systems where this option makes a difference, the patch should be generated by ‘diff -a --binary’. See section 1.7 Binary Files and Forcing Text Comparisons.
-c
--context
Interpret the patch file as a context diff. See section 10.1 Selecting the patch Input Format.
-d directory
--directory=directory
Make directory directory the current directory for interpreting both file names in the patch file, and file names given as arguments to other options. See section 10.7 Applying Patches in Other Directories.
-D name
--ifdef=name
Make merged if-then-else output using name. See section 2.6 Merging Files with If-then-else.
--dry-run
Print the results of applying the patches without actually changing any files. See section 10.3.4 Predicting what patch will do.
-e
--ed
Interpret the patch file as an ed script. See section 10.1 Selecting the patch Input Format.
-E
--remove-empty-files
Remove output files that are empty after the patches have been applied. See section 10.4 Creating and Removing Files.
-f
--force
Assume that the user knows exactly what he or she is doing, and do not ask any questions. See section 10.11 Messages and Questions from patch.
-F lines
--fuzz=lines
Set the maximum fuzz factor to lines. See section 10.3.3 Helping patch Find Inexact Matches.
-g num
--get=num
If num is positive, get input files from a revision control system as necessary; if zero, do not get the files; if negative, ask the user whether to get the files. See section 10.2 Revision Control.
--help
Output a summary of usage and then exit.
-i patchfile
--input=patchfile
Read the patch from patchfile rather than from standard input. See section 15.1 Options to patch.
-l
--ignore-white-space
Let any sequence of blanks (spaces or tabs) in the patch file match any sequence of blanks in the input file. See section 10.3.1 Applying Patches with Changed White Space.
-n
--normal
Interpret the patch file as a normal diff. See section 10.1 Selecting the patch Input Format.
-N
--forward
Ignore patches that patch thinks are reversed or already applied. See also -R. See section 10.3.2 Applying Reversed Patches.
--no-backup-if-mismatch
Do not back up the original contents of files. This is the default behavior when conforming to POSIX. See section 10.8 Backup Files.
-o file
--output=file
Use file as the output file name. See section 15.1 Options to patch.
-pnumber
--strip=number
Set the file name strip count to number. See section 10.7 Applying Patches in Other Directories.
--posix
Conform to POSIX, as if the POSIXLY_CORRECT environment variable had been set. See section 10.12 patch and the POSIX Standard.
--quoting-style=word
Use style word to quote names in diagnostics, as if the QUOTING_STYLE environment variable had been set to word. See section 10.11.3 patch Quoting Style.
-r reject-file
--reject-file=reject-file
Use reject-file as the reject file name. See section 10.10 Reject File Names.
-R
--reverse
Assume that this patch was created with the old and new files swapped. See section 10.3.2 Applying Reversed Patches.
-s
--quiet
--silent
Work silently unless an error occurs. See section 10.11 Messages and Questions from patch.
-t
--batch
Do not ask any questions. See section 10.11 Messages and Questions from patch.
-T
--set-time
Set the modification and access times of patched files from time stamps given in context diff headers, assuming that the context diff headers use local time. See section 10.5 Updating Time Stamps on Patched Files.
-u
--unified
Interpret the patch file as a unified diff. See section 10.1 Selecting the patch Input Format.
-v
--version
Output version information and then exit.
-V backup-style
--version=control=backup-style
Select the naming convention for backup file names. See section 10.9 Backup File Names.
--verbose
Print more diagnostics than usual. See section 10.11 Messages and Questions from patch.
-x number
--debug=number
Set internal debugging flags. Of interest only to patch patchers.
-Y prefix
--basename-prefix=prefix
Prepend prefix to base names of backup files. See section 10.9 Backup File Names.
-z suffix
--suffix=suffix
Use suffix as the backup extension instead of ‘.orig’ or ‘~’. See section 10.9 Backup File Names.
-Z
--set-utc
Set the modification and access times of patched files from time stamps given in context diff headers, assuming that the context diff headers use UTC. See section 10.5 Updating Time Stamps on Patched Files.
ISBN 0954161750Comparing and Merging Files with GNU diff and patchSee the print edition