# backstop: Backstop a target directory by source directories

[ development, gpl, library, program ] [ Propose Tags ]

The backstop command is a UNIX, Linux, and *BSD tool. Intuitively, backstop fills in the missing objects or holes that exist in the target directory relative to the source directories thereby creating a merged view of the target and source directories. De-backstop undoes this. See "backstop -m" for a manual page or the homepage for more information.

Versions [RSS] [faq] 1.3.0.352, 1.3.0.354 CHANGELOG.md base (>=4.12.0.0 && <4.13), directory (>=1.3.3.0 && <1.4), filepath (>=1.4.2.1 && <1.5), mtl (>=2.2.2 && <2.3), process (>=1.6.5.0 && <1.7), unix (>=2.7.2.2 && <2.8) [details] GPL-3.0-only All rights reserved (c)1999-2019. Marcus D. Gabriel marcus@gabriel.name program, development, library https://github.com/mdgabriel/backstop.git https://github.com/mdgabriel/backstop/issues head: git clone https://github.com/mdgabriel/backstop.git(tag 1.3.0.354) by mdgabriel at 2019-11-04T21:24:34Z NixOS:1.3.0.354 backstop 684 total (10 in the last 30 days) 2.0 (votes: 1) [estimated by Bayesian average] λ λ λ Docs uploaded by userBuild status unknown

## Modules

[Index] [Quick Jump]

#### Maintainer's Corner

For package maintainers and hackage trustees

Candidates

• No Candidates

[back to package description]

# The backstop command

The backstop command is a UNIX, Linux, and *BSD tool. Intuitively, backstop fills in the missing objects or holes that exist in the target directory relative to the source directories thereby creating a merged view of the target and source directories. De-backstop undoes this. See "backstop -m" for a manual page or the homepage for more information.

The command backstop was created over twenty years ago to manage development environement toolchains in which part of the project was under source control and part of the project was not, e.g. binaries. It was inspired by lndir, graft, and "Source Control to Project Control: Applying RCS and SCCS" by Don Bolinger and Tan Bronson. Techniques have changed with time, but backstop is a robust tool with an extensive test suite that runs around 2700 tests, a combination of HUnit, QuickCheck, and black box tests.

In the author's obviously biased veiw, backstop has pedagogical value. The module Backstop uses a ReaderT monad transformer to manage an Environment passed to it via the command line, a StateT monad transformer to keep track of a set of counters and to keep track of the status of direcotry content while backstopping or de-backstopping. The last two are Monoids. With this structure, the handling of a dry-run for backstop or de-backstop is rather powerful even it is a bit subtle (obscure) to understand.

On a personal note, the author truly began to appreciate Haskell after creating the Backstop module and its test suite and has not stopped appreciating Haskell since.

# The backstop manual page


NAME
backstop - Backstop a target directory by source directories

SYNOPSIS
backstop [-nprt] [-a|-d] trgdir srcdir [srcdir ...]
backstop -h
backstop -l
backstop -m
backstop -v
backstop -y

AVAILABILITY

marcus@gabriel.name

License terms: GNU GPL version 3 or later (backstop -l)

DESCRIPTION
Backstop a target directory by source directories thereby
creating a backing chain using relative symbolic links by default
or absolute symbolic links by option.  If more than one source
directory is given, backstop the target directory with each
source directory in turn starting from left to right on the
command line.

Intuitively, backstop fills in the missing objects or holes that
exist in the target directory relative to the source directories
thereby creating a merged view of the target and source
directories.

De-backstop a target directory by its source directories.  In
this case, the source directories no longer need to exist.  If
more than one source directory is given, de-backstop the target
directory by the source directories.

Symbolic links are never followed.  However, the target and
source directories are canonicalized (realpath(3)) internally by
the command backstop before backstopping and de-backstoppoing.

By default no output is displayed except possibly to STDERR.

ALGORITHM
There must be at least two arguments or operands.  The first
operand is the target directory, and the second operand and
beyond are source directories.  The target and source directory
must be parallel directories, that is, neither canonicalized
(realpath(3)) directory path may be a sub-directory of the other.
If the above is not true, a usage error occurs.

Nevertheless, pathnames are internally in reduced form such that
symbolic link names are treated literally when finding directory
names.  See "cd -L" of ksh(1).  In other words, components in the
pathname that are not directories but symbolic links to
directories are not resolved to their corresponding directories.

A list of objects or names is collected under the root of the
source directory excluding the directory dot (.) and the
directory double-dot (..).  If the list is empty, the algorithm
is done, otherwise the objects divide into two classes, objects
that are not directories and objects that are directories.  There
are five possibilities:

1. The object is either dot (.) or double-dot (..) whereupon no
action is taken.

2. If an object of the same name as the name of the object under
the root of the source directory does not exists under the
root of the target directory, then a symbolic link, relative
or absolute as required, is created under the root of the
target directory to the object under the root of the source
directory.  If populating (-p) and the object under the root
of the source directory is a directory, then a sub-directory

3. If an object of the same name as the name of the object under
the root of the source directory does exists under the root of
the target directory and is a file, no action is taken,
regardless of whether or not the object under the root of the
source directory is a file or a directory.

4. If an object of the same name as the name of the object under
the root of the source directory does exists under the root of
the target directory and is a directory, and if the object of
the same name under the root of the source directory is a
file, no action is taken.

5. If an object of the same name as the name of the object under
the root of the source directory does exists under the root of
the target directory and is a directory, and if the object of
the same name under the root of the source directory is also a
directory, then recursion occurs with the objects of the same
name under the roots of the target and source directories as
new root target and source directories, respectively.

When de-backstopping a target directory by source directories,
the sources no longer need to exist.  Symbolic links under the
target are removed if and only if they point to a pahtname under
one of the source directories.  This can be determined even if
the source directory no longer exists because symbolic links
within directory pathnames are taken literally.  See "cd -L" of
ksh(1).

When de-populating while de-backstopping (-pd), a directory is
removed if all objects within the directory are symbolic links
that have been remove while de-backstopping.  An empty directory
is removed if and only if there exists a corresponding directory
path under one of the source directories as under the target
directory.  This can only be determined if the source directory
and correponding sub-directory still exist.  If not, then no
action is taken.

OPTIONS
The following options are supported:

-a Create symbolic links which are absolute paths.

-d De-backstop the target directory by its source directories.
The -a option has no affect on the -d option.

-h Display a short command summary.

-l Display the backstop license terms.

-m Display this internal manual page.

-n Take no action but trace possible program execution.  The -n
option implies the -t option.

-p Populate the target by making equivalent sub-directories of
sub-directories that point back into the sources.  For
example, if the target directory is empty, then for a set of
source directories, from left to right on the command line,
this creates a combined directory structure of the sources
under the target directory in which all non-directories are
symbolic links pointing back into the source directories.
This is similar to the lndir(1) command of the X consortium.

With the -d option, all sub-directories emptied of symbolic
links under the target directory are removed, and all empty
directories are removed if and only if the correspoding
sub-directory under the source directory exists.

-r Report the number of symbolic links and directories created,
the number of calls and maximum depth of backstop, the
maximum breadth observed by backstop, and the number of non-
fatal errors encountered.  With the -d option, show the
number of symbolic links and directories removed.

-t Show the trace of program execution.  The output is a list
of executable commands.

-v The version of backstop.

-y A synopsis of the internal manual page.

OPERANDS
trgdir
The directory that will be backed by other directories.  The
target directory can be backed by multiple source directories
where each source directory could be backed by yet another
directory or multiple directories thereby creating an
extensible backing chain.

srcdir
The directory which backs a target directory.  The source
directory can be backed by multiple additional directories
where each additional directory could be backed by yet another
directory or multiple directories thereby creating an
extensible backing chain.

USAGE NOTES
Evolved with ghc 6.10, 6.12, 7.0, 7.4, 7.10, 8.0.2, and 8.4.1.
Tested with 8.4.1.

EXAMPLES
To display a summary of usage, use

backstop -h

To display a synopsis of this internal manual page, use

backstop -y

To display this internal manual page, use

backstop -m

To trace program execution, use

backstop -t /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules \
/export/install/sparc/modules

To trace program execution taking no action, use

backstop -n /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules \
/export/install/sparc/modules

To back /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules with
/export/install/sparc/modules using relative symbolic links, use

backstop /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules \
/export/install/sparc/modules

To back /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules with
/export/install/sparc/modules using absolute symbolic links, use

backstop -a /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules \
/export/install/sparc/modules

To stop backing /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules with
/export/install/sparc/modules, use

backstop -d /export/install/sparc/devlopment/modules \
/export/install/sparc/modules

ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES
PAGER   Page the internal manual page or license terms
using "\${PAGER}", otherwise print it.

EXIT STATUS
An exit status of 0 is returned if successful, otherwise non-zero
is returned.  The following error exit codes are used by
backstop:

EXIT CODE    MEANING
251       Less than two operands.
252       Not a directory, that is, trgdir or one or more
of the srcdir are not a directory.
253       Not parallel directories, that is, a srcdir is
a sub-directory of trgdir or vice versa, or one
of the srcdir is a sub-directory of another
srcdir.
254       Not yet implemented.
255       Non-fatal errors occurred.  Error messages are
sent to STDERR for each non-fatal error that
occurred with return code equal to the number of
non-falal errors if less than 251, otherwise the
return code is 255, that is, "infinity".

FILES
N/A.