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Several days ago, I posted an answer to the following question: rsync: identical files (contents, size, timestamp) between source and destination are not being seen as identical

A moderator deleted my answer. This is the answer which starts with the words "I give up". The moderator explained that this was done because my assessment of why my question cannot be answered was deemed to be premature. The moderator deleted this answer with a comment stating that the question should remain and be discussed by the community for a while before any answer like mine is accepted.

Well, after close to a week of discussion and investigation, it turns out that my answer that was deleted is indeed totally correct. You can see by the reading the latest answer offered by the very helpful user @roaima and the comments associated with his answer that his answer substantiates the validity of my own answer that was deleted.

In other words, the following statement I made in my deleted answer has now been shown to be totally correct:

rsync cannot be relied upon to operate correctly when sync'ing between an ext4 filesystem under linux and an APFS filesystem under MacOS.

I am therefore requesting that this deleted answer be reinstated, although the green check-mark should be removed in favor of @roaima's answer.

Another reason for this is because some comments that are associated with that deleted answer clarify other statements that have been made in the discussion of this question, and it would be beneficial if other readers of this question could read those clarifying comments.

I completely understand that my original answer was posted in frustration after not enough time had passed for a meaningful investigation and discussion of my question to be completed. However, the wholesale deletion of that answer seems to me to be an excessive over-reaction. All that needed to be done by the moderator (in my opinion) was to remove the green check mark that I put onto my original answer and to add a comment explaining why and asking me to wait before jumping to conclusions. Such a comment was indeed posted by the moderator, and so I believe that the answer deletion was not needed.

Anyway, I hope that my deleted answer will now be re-instated.


Original answer pasted below for <10k users to be able to view:

I give up.

I think that the only viable answer to my question is the following:

rsync cannot be relied upon to operate correctly when sync'ing between an ext4 filesystem under linux and an APFS filesystem under MacOS.

I have a mostly unused Mac sitting around, and I thought I could save some money by using it as an rsync-based backup repository for my linux box, instead of going out and purchasing an extra USB drive for that purpose. It now seems like that was not the correct course of action.

PS: Please read "NOTE" in my original question, above. In that text, I clearly explain in detail how timestamp discrepancies between the two OS's could not be causing this problem. Thank you for taking the time to read that.

And it's already been made clear that this is not a file-size issue, either.

This problem seems to simply be due to differences in behavior between a linux ext4 filesystem and a MacOS APFS filesystem.

PPS: Per the suggestion below, I re-installed rsync via homebrew on my Mac and retried the sync after having added --rsync-path=/usr/local/bin/rsync to the rsync command line (that's the location where homebrew installs it). Sadly, using that homebrew version of rsync did not fix the problem.

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    Well -your answer's about what you tried, which could be incorporated in part in the question. The selected answer covers what actually was wrong and why. Also we can't remove the selected answer tick
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Nov 13 at 0:04
  • If you reinstate my comment, I'll be glad to remove the selected Answer tick.
    – HippoMan
    Nov 13 at 1:39
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    "so I believe that the Answer deletion was not needed." - Remove the meta-commentary and flag it for review to be undeleted, however, in it's current state it doesn't mean the minimum quality standards to be an answer. As the question author you can unaccept the answer. You might have to flag the answer, to be restored, so you can make it meet our minium quality standards. The answer in it's current state reads like a huge comment.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 13 at 6:21

2 Answers 2

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Thanks for bringing this here to Meta. This is absolutely the right course of escalation. Sometimes the community is going to agree with you, and other times it won't, but you've made a good argument above. Unfortunately, I have to say I personally disagree with you in this case, for the reasons below.

For starters, I'm sure the ...

I give up.

... that starts out your "answer" doesn't help. That would be a big, red flag to reviewers that it might be NAA (not-an-answer).

And I have to agree that, even with frustrated comment removed, it really was "not-an-answer" in this case.

Negative answers are absolutely acceptable, but they shouldn't come from the OP of the question unless you've determined the cause of the problem and can explain it. Here, you posit that:

This problem seems to simply be due to differences in behavior between a linux ext4 filesystem and a MacOS APFS filesystem.

Which is true, but you didn't know, and you couldn't explain why.

You could (and probably should) have, edited your original question to ask:

Could this simply be due to differences in behavior between a Linux ext4 filesystem and a macOS APFS filesystem?

The accepted answer, on the other hand, documents the reason for this behavior. It's still a negative answer, but with the supporting details needed to make it useful.


The rest of your "answer" consists of either "comments" or information that should have been edited into the question:

  • Please read "NOTE" in my original question

    A comment, replying to someone's comment. Not part of an answer.

  • Per the suggestion below, I re-installed rsync via homebrew ...

    Things that you've tried in order to solve your original problem should be edited into the question, even if they were comments on an answer.

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Your personal frustration and impatience is not an answer.

Even though a statement you made about macOS was technically correct, you did not explain exactly why.

First, I think context means everything. And as someone involved in this question/answer thread when it first came up, I was the first one to comment on the now deleted answer and wrote the following in my comment:

“My advice to you is be patient. You posted this question 3 hours ago and now you have given up. Wait for more answers and not engage with the question until a good solution is found.”

In the context of when it was closed and why it was closed, it was based on the fact that the original poster seemed to be frustrated and impatient. That’s it. And the “answer” provided no clear answer past “I guess this doesn’t work!”

Should that answer then be reopened? Nope.

The key points about efforts made should just be entered into the original question text. That “answer” was never an answer in any way.

Sorry to say this, but our original answer is still incorrect.

And this core claim in your deleted answer 100% incorrect:

“…it turns out that my answer that was deleted is indeed totally correct.”

No, your answer that was deleted was never correct.

You were frustrated, you gave up, and posted a venting of your frustration in the context of a non-answer posted within a mere 3 hours after you posted your question.

Then, pretty much a full 4 days later, an actual answer with actual details was posted that is very useful and very detailed.

Why the accepted answer should stay the accepted answer.

While the your initial answer of the following is correct at a very high level:

rsync cannot be relied upon to operate correctly when sync'ing between an ext4 filesystem under linux and an APFS filesystem under MacOS.”

That still does not explain anything. This all has utterly nothing to do with ext4 and APFS being incompatible, but rather your Linux ext4 is case sensitive and the macOS APFS file system by default is case insensitive.

Technically if you wanted to you could reformat that macOS system to be APFS case sensitive. Or you could even plug in an external drive and format that as APFS case sensitive and make that external drive the Rsync destination.

Meaning, the core issue here is case sensitivity versus case insensitivity. This is not a “Linux versus macOS” issue where someone who rant about how “bad” macOS is and just rant and rave

macOS is not “bad” or “worse” than Linux. But by default what you want to do flies in the face of the default APFS case insensitivity that can easily be solved by either reformatting the disk as being case sensitive or adding an external drive formatted as being case sensitive.

That is why the accepted answer should stay the accepted answer. That answer is useful. The other answer you posted is, sadly, not an answer but frustration posted as an answer.

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