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I have a batch of files all ending with the same string, ie: *_ext.dat located in several sub-dirs along with several other files, in a given main dir. This is the structure:




I need to recursively move only the files ending in *_ext.dat into a new main dir, new_dir, respecting the sub-dir structure so the files will end up in an equivalent dir structure like this:




Because of this the command should also create those sub-dirs with their corresponding names. I know that with a line like this one:

find . -name "*_ext.dat" -print0 | xargs -0 rm -rf

I can delete all those files, but I don't know how to modify it to do what I need (or if it is even possible).

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Probably somthing like rsync --include=*_ext.dat /main_dir/ /new_dir/ will do the trick. Haven't tested it though. –  eldering Oct 9 '13 at 0:24

2 Answers 2

The CLI command is

cp -a /path/to/source/dir/* /path/to/target/dir

A couple of comments: the -a option will respect timestamps and ownership, if you do not care for such things you may use the -R option. The source dir is the directory of the files you want to cp. It is important you use the star, otherwise the command will copy, inside the new_dir, the old directory itself. In other words, if you do NOT use the star, you will find a directory structure like this:

new_dir -> main_dir -> subdir1,....

while, if you use the star, you will have:

new_dir -> subdir1,....

Use as needed.

EDIT: (sorry, I forgot) once you have copied your files, you can remove the old tree structure with the command

rm -rf /path/to/source/dir/* 

The -r option is "recursive", i.e., follow the directory tree down to the last leaves and delete everything. The -f option means "do not ask for confirmation". You can use instead -i, if you feel so inclined, which will ask for confirmation for every single object.

EDIT2: Sorry, I did not understand you only wanted to move files of a given extension. Go to the source directory. i.e. the one from which you want to copy the files, and:

find . -name '*.exttobefound' -exec cp --parents {} /path/to/target/directory \;
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I'm sorry Marius, I explained myself poorly. This command will move everything into the new location when I only need certain files to me moved. I've refactored the question to make this clear, sorry again. –  Gabriel Oct 9 '13 at 13:49

I would first create the subdirectories in new_dir by

cd main_dir
for i in *; do mkdir "../new_dir/$i"; done
cd ..

Then you can use bash's for command again along with pattern expansion to do exactly what you need quickly:

for i in main_dir/*/*_ext.dat; do cp "$i" "new_dir${i##main_dir}"; done

using the fact that the destination directories exist. Finally, if were not guaranteed that each of them would actually be used, you can purge the empty ones afterwards:

cd new_dir
rmdir --ignore-fail-on-non-empty *
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In the first loop you are expecting that in the main_dir there are only directories. Also you are not double-quoting the paths in all your code so it will not work with file names containing spaces. This code will be much more robust: for i in */; do mkdir "../new_dir/$i"; done. --- The last piece of code will not remove directories containing empty directories. For that you can use find: How do you remove nested empty directories using a Bash script on Linux? –  pabouk Nov 11 '13 at 7:59
@pabouk Of course it will. (Perhaps you didn't notice the cd preceding it?) Man page of rmdir says: "DESCRIPTION ... Remove the DIRECTORY(ies), if they are empty." The option --ignore-fail-on-non-empty opts out from the warnings that non-empty directories were left out. Moreover, I tried it on my system before posting. –  Vašek Potoček Nov 11 '13 at 11:04
Also, the directory structure my commands expect agrees perfectly with the way the OP introduced it including his explicit examples. Of course the commands would be different if the structure was. –  Vašek Potoček Nov 11 '13 at 11:05
Thanks, though, for the comment on spaces. Fixed. –  Vašek Potoček Nov 11 '13 at 11:08
You are welcome. You exaggerated with the double quotes. The last command will not do what you want. --- First loop: Is not it better to add single / so that the code is more universal and works in more use-cases? --- Last command does not work: mkdir a ; cd a ; mkdir -p a/b/c d/e/f g/h/i ; ls ; rmdir --ignore-fail-on-non-empty * ; ls --- output: a d g a d g –  pabouk Nov 11 '13 at 11:20

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