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Is it possible, to only rsync the filenames? I have a storage box and want the filenames (and their paths) added to another box. I'm currently creating each file with touch (they'll be created with a 0 byte size). It takes too long and was wondering if this could be automated with rsync.

If not, is there any other tool which allows this? Or would I need to code something custom?

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Something like this? find . -type d > direcotries find . -type f > files and on remote cat direcotries | xargs -I this mkdir this cat files | xargs -I this touch this – week Nov 12 '12 at 16:02
@week Hmm, thanks. I'll have a look at it. – Devator Nov 12 '12 at 16:28
Why create empty files? What's the point of having so many empty files? – unforgettableid Nov 15 '12 at 18:15
@Devator: OK, so you say the actual ISOs are stored in a directory on an ISO-storage PC. Well, perhaps you could use file-sharing software to mount that directory on the master PC. Would that eliminate your need to periodically sync the filenames? If not, why not? – unforgettableid Nov 29 '12 at 1:55
@unforgettableid It actually might yes, I'll look into that. Thanks! :) – Devator Dec 4 '12 at 9:37
up vote 4 down vote accepted

If your aim is to create empy files, than a template may be created like so:

FILES=$1 # original structure
TMPL=$2  # where to create empty files
[[ -d $FILES ]] || exit 1
[[ -d $TMPL ]] || mkdir -p $TMPL || exit 1

cd $TMPL
find "$FILES" -type d -printf "$TMPL%p\0" | sort -z |xargs -0 -L 1000 mkdir -p
find "$FILES" -type f -printf "$TMPL%p\0" | xargs -0 -L 1000 touch

This creates the directory of every file from the original tree and touches the files in the folders created under TMPL.

After creating a "mirrored" folder with only empty files, it can be rsynced to any host like any other folder:

rsync -av -e 'ssh -p 22 -l username' \
    /template/structure remotehost:/backup/templates/

The -e option is optional if the username is the same on both hosts and if sshd runs on the default port. Pay attention to what happens when you specify a trailing slash on both or either of the from and to parts. It is significant. The remotehost parameter, may be an ip address instead of an alias.

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@Devator have a look at my revised answer – Ярослав Рахматуллин Nov 17 '12 at 2:16
Thanks, going to use this :) Figured it already regarding rsyncing the empty folder. Cheers! – Devator Nov 18 '12 at 17:48
If you additionally want to include symlinks add the following line to the end of the script find "$FILES" -type l -printf "ln -s %l $TMPL%p\0" | xargs -0 -L 1000 sh -c – Florian Feldhaus Jun 21 '13 at 9:38

rsync itself doesn't seem to have an option to only create files. However, you could try various ways rather than using touch manually:

  • rsync the directory tree, then run find on the root of that tree and echo "" > into each file
  • use find to get a list of directory trees, then use mkdir -p on each element of that list (possibly reverse-sorting beforehand to minimise the number of syscalls) and then use touch on a similarly created list of files.

I would, however, go with the first option if the space is available, as it preserves permissions and access rights (given appropriate arguments to rsync).

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Yes, I'd like to do the first one, but space is the problem. :( – Devator Nov 12 '12 at 16:28
Maybe running it only on parts of the directory tree at a time would solve that problem? – Claudius Nov 12 '12 at 17:48
No, there's not enough space. – Devator Nov 12 '12 at 18:11

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