Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Hullo all - I'm using rsync to back up from my mac to a fileserver runnning linux, and I see the following error:

rsync -e ssh -vaxE --delete --ignore-errors /Users/dave/Desktop/dave 
dave@'s password: 
rsync: on remote machine: --extended-attributes: unknown option
rsync error: syntax or usage error (code 1) at main.c(1441) [server=3.0.5]
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (0 bytes received so far) [receiver]
rsync error: error in rsync protocol data stream (code 12) at /SourceCache/rsync/rsync-37.3/rsync/io.c(452) [receiver=2.6.9]

... clear enough error, however -v shows the following for the two machines:

MAC (Client/Local):

rsync  version 2.6.9  protocol version 29
Capabilities: 64-bit files, socketpairs, hard links, symlinks, batchfiles,
              inplace, IPv6, 64-bit system inums, 64-bit internal inums

LINUX (Server/Remote):

rsync  version 3.0.5  protocol version 30
    64-bit files, 64-bit inums, 32-bit timestamps, 64-bit long ints,
    socketpairs, hardlinks, symlinks, IPv6, batchfiles, inplace,
    append, ACLs, xattrs, iconv, symtimes

... so given the Linux box says it supports xattrs why does it throw a complaint about extended-attributes being requested by the Mac ?

FWIW the Mac is running OS X 10.6.1 & The server is running Ubuntu 2.6.28-15-generic - both machines are running with up to date standard packages (no special flavours of rsync installed on either side beyond what ships by default).

Any insight appreciated :-)

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The flags -E / --extended-attributes were not part of the official rsync distribution, and were a patch included by Apple at a time when the official rsync release didn't support them.

Now, rsync verson 3.x has reimplemented extended attribute support in a manner incompatible with Apple's patch. According to the rsync manual page for 3.0.6, extended-attribute support is now done with the --xattrs or -X arguments. It does not appear to accept the --extended-attributes flag at all.

You will either have to not specify -E or install an updated version of rsync locally that supports the new implementation.

share|improve this answer
Thanks! After doing some homework from your response it looks like macports provides a decent rsync version, and if I mount a HFS+ volume on the Linux server then all should be OK ... thanks for pointing out the root issue :-) – Dave Carpeneto Sep 26 '09 at 18:04

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.