Overwrite


 
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Top Forums UNIX for Dummies Questions & Answers Overwrite
# 1  
if i want to pipe output to a file, say,
cat abc.dat > abc.txt, how do i make it replace the existing file?
# 2  
the greater than ">" symbol always creates or overwrites
the file ">file_name". The double greater than ">>" will
append to the file.
# 3  
but if i use '>' in a script and the file already exists, it returns an error message saying that file already exists...
# 4  
Yes, that is because you can't pipe data out of a file and back into itself as you are trying to do. It gives an error because you can't have a file send its contents to itself, overwriting the data it is ending out. This is not the way file I/O is designed. If you want to replace the original file, you pipe the data to a temporary file. When that operation is over, you then replace the original with the temporary file. If kernel designers allowd file descriptors to act as you are wanted to do with one operation, file systems would be corrupted extremely easily, files operations could be circular and grow without limits, etc. There are complexities with file descriptor management and interprocess pipelining. Simple is good, robust and elegant. What you are hoping to do is better done in two shell operations, not one.

# 5  
If the error message is:
<I>filename</I>: File exists.

Then it sounds like you are using csh or tcsh as your shell.
In this case you have two options to force the overwriting of a file. Either issue the command "unset noclobber", or use the ">!" form of redirection. The first choice will affect all subsequent redirects in your current login. The second is one time only. You can also put "unset noclobber" into your .cshrc if you want it to take affect every time you login.
# 6  
nono, i don't want to over write the original file...well i guess what's what I wrote, but I meant if I want to use

cat abc.dat > abc.txt

and abc.txt already exists

it gives me an error saying

abc.txt : file already exists

i'm using ksh

Thanks
# 7  
In ksh the ">|" redirection overrides the noclobber variable. "unset noclobber" should also work, see above.
 

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