Re: File Limit in Kernel?

From: Bill Davidsen (
Date: Tue Nov 12 2002 - 18:23:59 EST

On 12 Nov 2002, Adam Voigt wrote:

> I have a directory with 39,000 files in it, and I'm trying to use the cp
> command to copy them into another directory, and neither the cp or the
> mv command will work, they both same "argument list too long" when I
> use:
> cp -f * /usr/local/www/images
> or
> mv -f * /usr/local/www/images
> Is this a kernel limitation? If yes, how can I get around it?
> If no, anyone know a workaround? I appreciate it.

Sort of, there is a limit to how many k of arguments you can have on a
command line. Having grown up with much smaller limits in early UNIX, I
got into the habit of using xargs when I wasn't sure. You can avoid one
exec per file behaviour by something like:
  ls | xargs -l50 echo | xargs -i mv "{}" destdir

You can also do useful things by using find and the -p option of cpio.

bill davidsen <>
  CTO, TMR Associates, Inc
Doing interesting things with little computers since 1979.

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