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Invoking patch

Normally patch is invoked like this:

patch patchfile

The full format for invoking patch is:

patch options... [origfile [patchfile]] [+ options... [origfile]]...

If you do not specify patchfile, or if patchfile is -, patch reads the patch (that is, the diff output) from the standard input.

You can specify one or more of the original files as orig arguments; each one and options for interpreting it is separated from the others with a +. See section Multiple Patches in a File, for more information.

If you do not specify an input file on the command line, patch tries to figure out from the leading text (any text in the patch that comes before the diff output) which file to edit. In the header of a context or unified diff, patch looks in lines beginning with ***, ---, or +++; among those, it chooses the shortest name of an existing file. Otherwise, if there is an Index: line in the leading text, patch tries to use the file name from that line. If patch cannot figure out the name of an existing file from the leading text, it prompts you for the name of the file to patch.

If the input file does not exist or is read-only, and a suitable RCS or SCCS file exists, patch attempts to check out or get the file before proceeding.

By default, patch replaces the original input file with the patched version, after renaming the original file into a backup file (see section Backup File Names, for a description of how patch names backup files). You can also specify where to put the output with the -o output-file or --output=output-file option.

Applying Patches in Other Directories

The -d directory or --directory=directory option to patch makes directory directory the current directory for interpreting both file names in the patch file, and file names given as arguments to other options (such as -B and -o). For example, while in a news reading program, you can patch a file in the /usr/src/emacs directory directly from the article containing the patch like this:

| patch -d /usr/src/emacs

Sometimes the file names given in a patch contain leading directories, but you keep your files in a directory different from the one given in the patch. In those cases, you can use the -p[number] or --strip[=number] option to set the file name strip count to number. The strip count tells patch how many slashes, along with the directory names between them, to strip from the front of file names. -p with no number given is equivalent to -p0. By default, patch strips off all leading directories, leaving just the base file names, except that when a file name given in the patch is a relative file name and all of its leading directories already exist, patch does not strip off the leading directory. (A relative file name is one that does not start with a slash.)

patch looks for each file (after any slashes have been stripped) in the current directory, or if you used the -d directory option, in that directory.

For example, suppose the file name in the patch file is /gnu/src/emacs/etc/NEWS. Using -p or -p0 gives the entire file name unmodified, -p1 gives gnu/src/emacs/etc/NEWS (no leading slash), -p4 gives etc/NEWS, and not specifying -p at all gives NEWS.

Backup File Names

Normally, patch renames an original input file into a backup file by appending to its name the extension .orig, or ~ on systems that do not support long file names. The -b backup-suffix or --suffix=backup-suffix option uses backup-suffix as the backup extension instead.

Alternately, you can specify the extension for backup files with the SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX environment variable, which the options override.

patch can also create numbered backup files the way GNU Emacs does. With this method, instead of having a single backup of each file, patch makes a new backup file name each time it patches a file. For example, the backups of a file named sink would be called, successively, sink.~1~, sink.~2~, sink.~3~, etc.

The -V backup-style or --version-control=backup-style option takes as an argument a method for creating backup file names. You can alternately control the type of backups that patch makes with the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable, which the -V option overrides. The value of the VERSION_CONTROL environment variable and the argument to the -V option are like the GNU Emacs version-control variable (see section Backup File Names, for more information on backup versions in Emacs). They also recognize synonyms that are more descriptive. The valid values are listed below; unique abbreviations are acceptable.

t numbered Always make numbered backups.
nil existing Make numbered backups of files that already have them, simple backups of the others. This is the default.

never simple Always make simple backups.

Alternately, you can tell patch to prepend a prefix, such as a directory name, to produce backup file names. The -B backup-prefix or --prefix=backup-prefix option makes backup files by prepending backup-prefix to them. If you use this option, patch ignores any -b option that you give.

If the backup file already exists, patch creates a new backup file name by changing the first lowercase letter in the last component of the file name into uppercase. If there are no more lowercase letters in the name, it removes the first character from the name. It repeats this process until it comes up with a backup file name that does not already exist.

If you specify the output file with the -o option, that file is the one that is backed up, not the input file.

Reject File Names

The names for reject files (files containing patches that patch could not find a place to apply) are normally the name of the output file with .rej appended (or # on systems that do not support long file names).

Alternatively, you can tell patch to place all of the rejected patches in a single file. The -r reject-file or --reject-file=reject-file option uses reject-file as the reject file name.

Options to patch

Here is a summary of all of the options that patch accepts. Older versions of patch do not accept long-named options or the -t, -E, or -V options.

Multiple single-letter options that do not take an argument can be combined into a single command line argument (with only one dash). Brackets ([ and ]) indicate that an option takes an optional argument.

-b backup-suffix Use backup-suffix as the backup extension instead of .orig or ~. See section Backup File Names.
-B backup-prefix Use backup-prefix as a prefix to the backup file name. If this option is specified, any -b option is ignored. See section Backup File Names.

--batch Do not ask any questions. See section Messages and Questions from patch.

-c --context Interpret the patch file as a context diff. See section Selecting the patch Input Format.

-d directory --directory=directory Makes 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 Applying Patches in Other Directories.

-D name Make merged if-then-else output using format. See section Merging Files with If-then-else.

--debug=number Set internal debugging flags. Of interest only to patch patchers.

-e --ed Interpret the patch file as an ed script. See section Selecting the patch Input Format.

-E Remove output files that are empty after the patches have been applied. See section Removing Empty Files.

-f Assume that the user knows exactly what he or she is doing, and do not ask any questions. See section Messages and Questions from patch.

-F lines Set the maximum fuzz factor to lines. See section Helping patch Find Inexact Matches.

--force Assume that the user knows exactly what he or she is doing, and do not ask any questions. See section Messages and Questions from patch.

--forward Ignore patches that patch thinks are reversed or already applied. See also -R. See section Applying Reversed Patches.

--fuzz=lines Set the maximum fuzz factor to lines. See section Helping patch Find Inexact Matches.

--help Print a summary of the options that patch recognizes, then exit.

--ifdef=name Make merged if-then-else output using format. See section Merging Files with If-then-else.

--ignore-white-space -l Let any sequence of white space in the patch file match any sequence of white space in the input file. See section Applying Patches with Changed White Space.

-n --normal Interpret the patch file as a normal diff. See section Selecting the patch Input Format.

-N Ignore patches that patch thinks are reversed or already applied. See also -R. See section Applying Reversed Patches.

-o output-file --output=output-file Use output-file as the output file name. See section Options to patch.

-p[number] Set the file name strip count to number. See section Applying Patches in Other Directories.

--prefix=backup-prefix Use backup-prefix as a prefix to the backup file name. If this option is specified, any -b option is ignored. See section Backup File Names.

--quiet Work silently unless an error occurs. See section Messages and Questions from patch.

-r reject-file Use reject-file as the reject file name. See section Reject File Names.

-R Assume that this patch was created with the old and new files swapped. See section Applying Reversed Patches.

--reject-file=reject-file Use reject-file as the reject file name. See section Reject File Names.

--remove-empty-files Remove output files that are empty after the patches have been applied. See section Removing Empty Files.

--reverse Assume that this patch was created with the old and new files swapped. See section Applying Reversed Patches.

-s Work silently unless an error occurs. See section Messages and Questions from patch.

-S Ignore this patch from the patch file, but continue looking for the next patch in the file. See section Multiple Patches in a File.

--silent Work silently unless an error occurs. See section Messages and Questions from patch.

--skip Ignore this patch from the patch file, but continue looking for the next patch in the file. See section Multiple Patches in a File.

--strip[=number] Set the file name strip count to number. See section Applying Patches in Other Directories.

--suffix=backup-suffix Use backup-suffix as the backup extension instead of .orig or ~. See section Backup File Names.

-t Do not ask any questions. See section Messages and Questions from patch.

-u --unified Interpret the patch file as a unified diff. See section Selecting the patch Input Format.

-v Output the revision header and patch level of patch.

-V backup-style Select the kind of backups to make. See section Backup File Names.

--version Output the revision header and patch level of patch, then exit.

--version=control=backup-style Select the kind of backups to make. See section Backup File Names.

-x number Set internal debugging flags. Of interest only to patch patchers.


 

 

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