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bug#10055: [sr #107875] BUG cp -u corrupts 'fs'' information if interupt

From: Linda Walsh
Subject: bug#10055: [sr #107875] BUG cp -u corrupts 'fs'' information if interupted; can't recover on future invoctions
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 11:07:47 -0800
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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [sr #107875] BUG cp -u corrupts 'fs'' information if interupted; can't recover on future invoctions
Date:   Tue, 15 Nov 2011 17:58:23 +0000
From:   Linda A. Walsh <address@hidden>
To:     Linda A. Walsh <>


                Summary: BUG cp -u corrupts 'fs'' information if interupted;
can't recover on future invoctions
                Project: GNU Core Utilities
           Submitted by: law
           Submitted on: Tue Nov 15 09:58:22 2011
               Category: None
               Priority: 5 - Normal
               Severity: 3 - Normal
                 Status: None
                Privacy: Public
            Assigned to: None
Originator Email: Open/Closed: Open
        Discussion Lock: Any
       Operating System: None



This should be filed under bugs, not under support, but it seems that users of
the core utilis are ot allowed to find bugs...convenient.  No wonder quality
metrics worthless.

Not trying for a sensationalist summary, but you try coming up with a SHORT
accurate summary for this.

The problem is bad (in the sense of providing false assurance and not being
reliable), but not as bad as the summary might sound...

if you copy a bunch of files (or 1 file for that matter, but then it _might_
be more quickly noticed, and the copy is interrupted (most often control-C,
cuz some param was forgotten, but could be other causes),  a partial file with
the current time stamp is left in the target location and the corrupt copy is
not removed upon interruption, though it is marked as being "current"
(w/current DT stamp).

This creates a corrupt copy of the file in a collection of files that
subsequent cp -u won't correct.  This is a problem.

As there is no indication in a collection of how many files are corrupted in
this manner...and the sources may have long been deleted.
If interrupted, the cp tool should remove any partials or ensure they are not
created to begin with.

Possible ways of addressing:
A) catch INT (& catchable signals), and remove any files that are
Besides that, several other steps could be taken to provide increasing
protections (some are orthogonal, some dependent):
B) 1). open destination name for write (verifying accesses) w/
      Exclusive Write;
  2). open tmp file for actual cp operation.
  3). use posix_fallocate (if available) to allocate sufficient space for the
  4). do the copy.
  5); rename tmp over original; (closing original before rename on systems
that don't support separation of names and FD's (Win systems et al).
C) reset DT stamps on newly opened files to '0' (~1969/70?)' in all
non-auto-updated fields; -- then start copy... any future invokations of "cp -u could examine the time stamps, and if the
non-auto-updated fields appear to be zero; do the copy (and correct the time
stamps) with 2 possible exception conditions being noted:
     (a) if the source file also has '0'd time fields, then check file
      if they match presume 'ok' (a statistical 'guess', -- possibly warned
about with a -verbose option), if sizes don't match, presume not a correct update and do the copy. D) others?

As this is, it creates a situation of cp being unreliable.

Note, 'rsync' isn't a great substitute either, as I've ntoed
that when I was updating files with 'rsync', (which is always slower on full
file copies) with equivalent options, a later
usage of "cp -uav to copy the files recopied most of the files
(all? not sure)  that rsync had copied with -aUVHAX (supposedly the same info
as cp -au from my understanding)).

The same was not true for the reverse case (files cp'ed and updated by cp,
were not updated by rsync, -- leading me to suspect rsync as not only being
significantly slower, but not as thorough in copying over information).

FWIW, I feel it important to file bugs about tools that are currently the best
in their class...(and tend to devote my attentions to wanting to see them
enhanced, even beyond their original scope at times);  rsync used to have a
very basic feature which put it above cp, ... it copied extended attrs and
ACLS.  Now that cp does that, and that cp was about 2-3x faster
than rsync for full files...


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