DO NOT REPLY [Bug 5520] Rsync cannot copy to a vfat partition on Linux kernel 2.6.25+

samba-bugs at samba-bugs at
Mon Feb 28 18:22:51 MST 2011

rsync at changed:

           What    |Removed                     |Added
                 CC|                            |rsync at

------- Comment #5 from rsync at  2011-02-28 19:22 CST -------
I believe that this question has been answered...

Using rsync's -a or -p is instructing it to do something that is impossible to
do on a vfat (and a few others btw) filesystem.  Therefore rsync fails to do
what it was told to do and errors appropriately.

The alternative of having rsync ignore part of the user's instruction based on
the fact that it will not work and therefore the user must just not be paying
attention is wrong and could easily lead to a security issue.  If someone were
to rsync a private file to a vfat mount point with insecure permissions that
file could then silently become public on the system.

There are many other rsync flags that will not work on a vfat formatted drive
and they should all produce appropriate errors too (assuming they encounter a
file that triggers that feature).

The reason that rdiff-backup handles this is that it is specifically a backup
program.  A backup of data doesn't have to look exactly like the data.  It
could for instance be a tarball on a vfat mount that contains hard links,
ownerships, permissions and other things that vfat can't handle.  Rsync otoh,
is for synchronizing files and directories.  If the target filesystem can't
handle what the source filesystem is storing then rsync can't function.

So, the solution is to use -rt instead of -a.  Note that you will probably need
--modify-window as well.

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