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Node:diff Options, Up:Invoking diff

Options to diff

Below is a summary of all of the options that GNU diff accepts. Most options have two equivalent names, one of which is a single letter preceded by -, and the other of which is a long name preceded by --. Multiple single letter options (unless they take an argument) can be combined into a single command line word: -ac is equivalent to -a -c. Long named options can be abbreviated to any unique prefix of their name. Brackets ([ and ]) indicate that an option takes an optional argument.

-a
--text
Treat all files as text and compare them line-by-line, even if they do not seem to be text. See Binary.
-b
--ignore-space-change
Ignore changes in amount of white space. See White Space.
-B
--ignore-blank-lines
Ignore changes that just insert or delete blank lines. See Blank Lines.
--binary
Read and write data in binary mode. See Binary.
-c
Use the context output format, showing three lines of context. See Context Format.
-C lines
--context[=lines]
Use the context output format, showing lines (an integer) lines of context, or three if lines is not given. See Context Format. For proper operation, patch typically needs at least two lines of context.

On older systems, diff supports an obsolete option -lines that has effect when combined with -c or -p. POSIX 1003.1-2001 (see Standards conformance) does not allow this; use -C lines instead.

--changed-group-format=format
Use format to output a line group containing differing lines from both files in if-then-else format. See Line Group Formats.
-d
--minimal
Change the algorithm perhaps find a smaller set of changes. This makes diff slower (sometimes much slower). See diff Performance.
-D name
--ifdef=name
Make merged #ifdef format output, conditional on the preprocessor macro name. See If-then-else.
-e
--ed
Make output that is a valid ed script. See ed Scripts.
-E
--ignore-tab-expansion
Ignore changes due to tab expansion. See White Space.
-f
--forward-ed
Make output that looks vaguely like an ed script but has changes in the order they appear in the file. See Forward ed.
-F regexp
--show-function-line=regexp
In context and unified format, for each hunk of differences, show some of the last preceding line that matches regexp. See Specified Headings.
--from-file=file
Compare file to each operand; file may be a directory.
--help
Output a summary of usage and then exit.
--horizon-lines=lines
Do not discard the last lines lines of the common prefix and the first lines lines of the common suffix. See diff Performance.
-i
--ignore-case
Ignore changes in case; consider upper- and lower-case letters equivalent. See Case Folding.
-I regexp
--ignore-matching-lines=regexp
Ignore changes that just insert or delete lines that match regexp. See Specified Folding.
--ignore-file-name-case
Ignore case when comparing file names during recursive comparison. See Comparing Directories.
-l
--paginate
Pass the output through pr to paginate it. See Pagination.
--label=label
Use label instead of the file name in the context format (see Context Format) and unified format (see Unified Format) headers. See RCS.
--left-column
Print only the left column of two common lines in side by side format. See Side by Side Format.
--line-format=format
Use format to output all input lines in if-then-else format. See Line Formats.
-n
--rcs
Output RCS-format diffs; like -f except that each command specifies the number of lines affected. See RCS.
-N
--new-file
In directory comparison, if a file is found in only one directory, treat it as present but empty in the other directory. See Comparing Directories.
--new-group-format=format
Use format to output a group of lines taken from just the second file in if-then-else format. See Line Group Formats.
--new-line-format=format
Use format to output a line taken from just the second file in if-then-else format. See Line Formats.
--old-group-format=format
Use format to output a group of lines taken from just the first file in if-then-else format. See Line Group Formats.
--old-line-format=format
Use format to output a line taken from just the first file in if-then-else format. See Line Formats.
-p
--show-c-function
Show which C function each change is in. See C Function Headings.
-q
--brief
Report only whether the files differ, not the details of the differences. See Brief.
-r
--recursive
When comparing directories, recursively compare any subdirectories found. See Comparing Directories.
-s
--report-identical-files
Report when two files are the same. See Comparing Directories.
-S file
--starting-file=file
When comparing directories, start with the file file. This is used for resuming an aborted comparison. See Comparing Directories.
--speed-large-files
Use heuristics to speed handling of large files that have numerous scattered small changes. See diff Performance.
--strip-trailing-cr
Strip any trailing carriage return at the end of an input line. See Binary.
--suppress-common-lines
Do not print common lines in side by side format. See Side by Side Format.
-t
--expand-tabs
Expand tabs to spaces in the output, to preserve the alignment of tabs in the input files. See Tabs.
-T
--initial-tab
Output a tab rather than a space before the text of a line in normal or context format. This causes the alignment of tabs in the line to look normal. See Tabs.
--to-file=file
Compare each operand to file; file may be a directory.
-u
Use the unified output format, showing three lines of context. See Unified Format.
--unchanged-group-format=format
Use format to output a group of common lines taken from both files in if-then-else format. See Line Group Formats.
--unchanged-line-format=format
Use format to output a line common to both files in if-then-else format. See Line Formats.
--unidirectional-new-file
When comparing directories, if a file appears only in the second directory of the two, treat it as present but empty in the other. See Comparing Directories.
-U lines
--unified[=lines]
Use the unified output format, showing lines (an integer) lines of context, or three if lines is not given. See Unified Format. For proper operation, patch typically needs at least two lines of context.

On older systems, diff supports an obsolete option -lines that has effect when combined with -u. POSIX 1003.1-2001 (see Standards conformance) does not allow this; use -U lines instead.

-v
--version
Output version information and then exit.
-w
--ignore-all-space
Ignore white space when comparing lines. See White Space.
-W columns
--width=columns
Output at most columns (default 130) print columns per line in side by side format. See Side by Side Format.
-x pattern
--exclude=pattern
When comparing directories, ignore files and subdirectories whose basenames match pattern. See Comparing Directories.
-X file
--exclude-from=file
When comparing directories, ignore files and subdirectories whose basenames match any pattern contained in file. See Comparing Directories.
-y
--side-by-side
Use the side by side output format. See Side by Side Format.

 
 
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