INSTALL(1) FreeBSD General Commands Manual INSTALL(1)


installinstall binaries


install [ -bCcpSsUv][ -B suffix][ -D destdir][ -f flags][ -g group][ -h hash][ -l linkflags][ -M metalog][ -m mode][ -N dbdir][ -o owner][ -T tags] file1 file2

install [ -bCcpSsUv][ -B suffix][ -D destdir][ -f flags][ -g group][ -h hash][ -l linkflags][ -M metalog][ -m mode][ -N dbdir][ -o owner][ -T tags] file1 ... fileN directory

install -d [ -Uv][ -D destdir][ -g group][ -h hash][ -M metalog][ -m mode][ -N dbdir][ -o owner][ -T tags] directory ...


The file(s) are copied (or linked if the -l option is specified) to the target file or directory. If the destination is a directory, then the file is copied into directory with its original filename. If the target file already exists, it is either renamed to file .old if the -b option is given or overwritten if permissions allow. An alternate backup suffix may be specified via the -B option's argument.

The options are as follows:

Back up any existing files before overwriting them by renaming them to file .old. See -B for specifying a different backup suffix.
-B suffix
Use suffix as the backup suffix if -b is given.
Copy the file. If the target file already exists and the files are the same, then do not change the modification time of the target. If the target's file flags and mode need not to be changed, the target's inode change time is also unchanged.
Copy the file. This is actually the default. The -c option is only included for backwards compatibility.
-D destdir
Specify the DESTDIR (top of the file hierarchy) that the items are installed in to. If -M metalog is in use, a leading string of “ destdir” will be removed from the file names logged to the metalog. This option does not affect where the actual files are installed.
Create directories. Missing parent directories are created as required.
Specify the target's file flags; see chflags(1) for a list of possible flags and their meanings.
Specify a group. A numeric GID is allowed.
-h hash
When copying, calculate the digest of the files with hash to store in the -M metalog. When -d is given no hash is emitted. Supported digests:
No hash. This is the default.
The MD5 cryptographic message digest.
The RMD-160 cryptographic message digest.
The SHA-1 cryptographic message digest.
The 256-bits SHA-2 cryptographic message digest of the file.
The 512-bits SHA-2 cryptographic message digest of the file.
-l linkflags
Instead of copying the file make a link to the source. The type of the link is determined by the linkflags argument. Valid linkflags are: a (absolute), r (relative), h (hard), s (symbolic), m (mixed). Absolute and relative have effect only for symbolic links. Mixed links are hard links for files on the same filesystem, symbolic otherwise.
-M metalog
Write the metadata associated with each item installed to metalog in an mtree(8) “full path” specification line. The metadata includes: the file name and file type, and depending upon other options, the owner, group, file flags, modification time, and tags.
Specify an alternate mode. The default mode is set to rwxr-xr-x (0755). The specified mode may be either an octal or symbolic value; see chmod(1) for a description of possible mode values.
Use the user database text file master.passwd and group database text file group from dbdir, rather than using the results from the system's getpwnam(3) and getgrnam(3) (and related) library calls.
Specify an owner. A numeric UID is allowed.
Preserve the access and modification times. Copy the file, as if the -C (compare and copy) option is specified, except if the target file does not already exist or is different, then preserve the access and modification times of the source file.
Safe copy. Normally, install unlinks an existing target before installing the new file. With the -S flag a temporary file is used and then renamed to be the target. The reason this is safer is that if the copy or rename fails, the existing target is left untouched.
install exec's the command strip(1) to strip binaries so that install can be portable over a large number of systems and binary types. See below for how install can be instructed to use another program to strip binaries.
-T tags
Specify the mtree(8) tags to write out for the file when using -M metalog.
Indicate that install is running unprivileged, and that it should not try to change the owner, the group, or the file flags of the destination. The information that would have been updated can be stored in a log file with -M metalog.
Cause install to be verbose, showing files as they are installed or backed up.

By default, install preserves all file flags, with the exception of the “nodump” flag.

The install utility attempts to prevent moving a file onto itself.

Installing /dev/null creates an empty file.


The install utility checks for the presence of the STRIPBIN environment variable and if present, uses the assigned value as the program to run if and when the -s option has been specified.

If the DONTSTRIP environment variable is present, install will ignore any specification of the -s option. This is mainly for use in debugging the FreeBSD Ports Collection.


If either -S option is specified, or the -C or -p option is used in conjunction with the -s option, temporary files named INS@XXXX, where XXXX is decided by mkstemp(3), are created in the target directory.


The install utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


Historically install moved files by default. The default was changed to copy in FreeBSD 4.4.


The install utility appeared in 4.2BSD.


The meaning of the -M option has changed as of FreeBSD 9.2 and it now takes an argument. Command lines that used the old -M will get an error or in rare cases will append logs to the first of multiple source files rather than installing it.

Temporary files may be left in the target directory if install exits abnormally.

File flags cannot be set by fchflags(2) over a NFS file system. Other file systems do not have a concept of flags. The install utility will only warn when flags could not be set on a file system that does not support them.

The install utility with -v falsely says a file is copied when -C snaps hard links.

January 18, 2013 FreeBSD