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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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8.3.2 cp

Traditionally, cp was not really a candidate for this task since it did not dereference symbolic links, or preserve hard links either. Another thing to consider was sparse files (files with holes).

GNU cp has overcome these limitations; however, on a non-GNU system, cp could still have problems. Also, you can't generate small, portable archives using cp.

     % cp -a . newdir

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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