Force overwrite with cp


Like any self-respecting engineer with butter fingers, I’ve taken out insurance in my bashrc by aliasing potentially destructive commands. -i asks me before clobbering a target, and -v enables verbose output:

$ alias
==> alias cp='cp -iv'
==> alias ln='ln -i'
==> alias mv='mv -iv'
==> alias rm='rm -iv'

These work almost too well. Sometimes, I fully intend to copy over a directory of files, but cp wants me to hit y for every single one:

$ cp ./source/* ./dest/
==> overwrite shima.markdown? (y/n [n])

mv has a ‘-f’ option, which forces mv not to prompt before overriding, even if -i or -n have been invoked. cp has no such option, so instead I piped yes to it!

$ yes | cp ./source/* ./dest/

Another (perhaps more sane) approach is temporarily disabling the alias, though that does mean other options for that command would also be disabled, such as verbosity or colour:

$ \cp ./source/* ./dest/

More astute readers would wonder why I’m overriding my own safeguards, thereby making them useless. Presumably I’d only do this when needed, and only after confirmation.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and IaaS engineer in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Wait, not BIOS… my brain should be EFI by now.

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