I want to replicate a complex directory structure from one Linux server to another remote server start at a certain sub-directory.

I don't want the contents of the files, I just want to preserve the structure, owner and permissions as the server to be cloned contains a large volume of data that must not be copied to the new machine.

I'm guessing that this could be done somehow by tar-ing up the folder structure and un-taring it on the remote machine. Or by using rsync to copy without sending the data. Or possibly by using find to create a shell script.

If anyone has the one-liner at hand that accomplishes this, I would appreciate it.


You can combine find and cpio to make a list of subdirectories from the current working directory thus:

find . -type d -print | cpio -oO dirs.cpio

To rebuild that directory hierarchy on the remote machine, copy over the dirs.cpio file to the desired location and run:

cpio -iI dirs.cpio
  • Both answers were great but I'm giving the best answer to this for teaching me about cpio. – Stuart Woodward Dec 14 '09 at 1:20

one solution might be

find . -type d > dirs

to find the directories, then use that file with the -T option of tar:

tar cpzT dirs -f dest_file.tar.gz

which should create a compressed archive (z) preserving permissions (p) by archiving only the files listed (T dirs). Transfer file, uncompress with

tar xpzf dest_file.tar.gz

and you should be done.


Use rsync to recursively copy only directories under a source path to a destination directory:

rsync --archive --verbose --filter="+ */" --filter="- *" /path/to/src/ /path/to/dest/
rsync --archive --verbose --filter="+ */" --filter="- *" /path/to/apache/logs/ user@domain:/path/to/apache/logs/

Using options --include and --exclude instead of --filter rules with an older version of rsync:

rsync --archive --verbose --include="*/" --exclude="- *" /path/to/src/ /path/to/dest/
rsync --archive --verbose --include="*/" --exclude="*" /path/to/apache/logs/ user@domain:/path/to/apache/logs/

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