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use of tar in make install rules

From: Glenn Morris
Subject: use of tar in make install rules
Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 15:30:02 -0400
User-agent: Gnus (www.gnus.org), GNU Emacs (www.gnu.org/software/emacs/)

To install a directory and all its contents (eg lisp), the Emacs Makefile uses:

(cd $${dir}; tar -chf - . ) | \
   (cd $${dest}; umask 022; tar -xvf - && cat > /dev/null)

Why does it use tar, as opposed to "cp -R"?
Please don't tell me that cp -R isn't portable...
(There are no symbolic links or device files involved.)

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