oreilly.comSafari Books Online.Conferences.


Linux in a Nutshell

This directory of Linux commands is from Linux in a Nutshell, 5th Edition.

Click on any of the 687 commands below to get a description and list of available options. All links in the command summaries point to the online version of the book on Safari Bookshelf.

Buy it now, or read it online on Safari Bookshelf.


patch [options] [original [patchfile] ]

Apply the patches specified in patchfile to original. Replace the original with the new, patched version; move the original to original.orig or original~. The patch file is a difference listing produced by the diff command.


-b, --backup

Back up the original file.

--backup-if-mismatch, --no-backup-if-mismatch

When not backing up all original files, these options control whether a backup should be made when a patch does not match the original file. The default is to make backups unless --posix is specified.

-c, --context

Interpret patchfile as a context diff.

-d dir, --directory=dir

cd to directory before beginning patch operations.


Print results of applying a patch, but don't change any files.

-e, --ed

Treat the contents of patchfile as ed commands.

-f, --force

Force all changes, even those that look incorrect. Skip patches if the original file does not exist; force patches for files with the wrong version specified; assume patches are never reversed.

-g num, --get num

Specify whether to check the original file out of source control if it is missing or read-only. If num is a positive number, get the file. If it is negative, prompt the user. If it is 0, do not check files out of source control. The default is negative or the value of the PATCH_GET environment variable when set, unless the --posix option is given. In that case, the default is 0.


Print help message, then exit.

-i file, --input=file

Read patch from file instead of stdin.

-l, --ignore-whitespace

Ignore whitespace while pattern matching.

-n, --normal

Interpret patch file as a normal diff.

-o file, --output=file

Print output to file.

-p[num] , --strip[=num]

Specify how much of preceding pathname to strip. A num of 0 strips everything, leaving just the filename. 1 strips the leading /. Each higher number after that strips another directory from the left.


Set the quoting style used when printing names. The default style is shell, unless set by the environment variable QUOTING_STYLE. style may be one of the following:


Quote as a C language string.


Like c, but without surrounding double-quote characters.


Print without quoting.


Quote for use in shell when needed.


Quote for use in shell even if not needed.


Conform more strictly to the POSIX standard.

-r file, --reject-file=file

Place rejects (hunks of the patch file that patch fails to place within the original file) in file. Default is original.rej.

-s, --silent, --quiet

Suppress commentary.

-t, --batch

Skip patches if the original file does not exist.

-u, --unified

Interpret patch file as a unified context diff.


Verbose mode.

-v, --version

Print version number and exit.

-z suffix, --suffix=suffix

Back up the original file in original.suffix.

-B prefix, --prefix=prefix

Prepend prefix to the backup filename.

-D string, --ifdef=string

Mark all changes with:

#ifdef string #endif

-E, --remove-empty-files

If patch creates any empty files, delete them.

-F num, --fuzz=num

Specify the maximum number of lines that may be ignored (fuzzed over) when deciding where to install a hunk of code. The default is 2. Meaningful only with context diffs.

-N, --forward

Ignore patches that appear to be reversed or to have already been applied.

-R, --reverse

Do a reverse patch: attempt to undo the damage done by patching with the old and new files reversed.

-T, --set-time

When original file timestamps match the times given in the patch header, set timestamps for patched files according to the context diff headers. Use option -f to force date changes. Assume timestamps are in local time.

-V method, --version-control=method

Specify method for creating backup files (overridden by -B):

t, numbered

Make numbered backups.

nil, existing

Back up files according to preexisting backup schemes, with simple backups as the default. This is patch's default behavior.

never, simple

Make simple backups.

-Y prefix, --basename-prefix=prefix

Use the specified prefix with a file's basename to create backup filenames. Useful for specifying a directory.

-Z, --set-utc

When original file timestamps match the times given in the patch header, set timestamps for patched files according to the context diff headers. Use option -f to force date changes. Assume timestamps are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Environment variables


Specify the directory for temporary files; /tmp by default.


Suffix to append to backup files instead of .orig or ~.


Specify how output should be quoted (see --quoting-style).


Specify whether patch should retrieve missing or read-only files from source control (see -g).


When set, patch conforms more strictly to the POSIX standard (see --posix).


Specify what method to use in naming backups (see -V).

Linux Resources
  • Linux Online
  • The Linux FAQ
  • Linux Kernel Archives
  • Kernel Traffic

  • Sponsored by: