|DIFF(1)||General Commands Manual||DIFF(1)|
These lines resemble ed commands to convert file1 into file2. The numbers after the letters pertain to file2. In fact, by exchanging `a' for `d' and reading backward one may ascertain equally how to convert file2 into file1. As in ed, identical pairs where n1 = n2 or n3 = n4 are abbreviated as a single number.
Following each of these lines come all the lines that are affected in the first file flagged by `<', then all the lines that are affected in the second file flagged by `>'.
The -b option causes trailing blanks (spaces and tabs) to be ignored and other strings of blanks to compare equal.
The -e option produces a script of a, c and d commands for the editor ed, which will recreate file2 from file1. The -f option produces a similar script, not useful with ed, in the opposite order. In connection with -e, the following shell program may help maintain multiple versions of a file. Only an ancestral file ($1) and a chain of version-to-version ed scripts ($2,$3,...) made by diff need be on hand. A `latest version' appears on the standard output.
Except in rare circumstances, diff finds a smallest sufficient set of file differences.
Option -h does a fast, half-hearted job. It works only when changed stretches are short and well separated, but does work on files of unlimited length. Options -e and -f are unavailable with -h.