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Re: Why not diff binaries?

"Pavel M. Penev" <kal_pav@sz.techno-link.com> writes:

> Can someone tell me a sensible reason for not having a 'diff'
> equivalent for binary file?

What do you want to do?

If you want the following:

        Given a binary (or text) file A and a variant of it A',
        generate a patch delta(A,A') representing the differences.

Then you can use xdelta.  With xdelta, you can construct and apply
such binary patches.

diff is also used to generate human-comprehensible differences, and
I'm not aware of a tool for doing this for binary files.  

I'm not sure such a program would be useful, but it probably would be
for certain kinds of files.  For example, a diff that worked on
(mostly) text-based files, but used a character-based approach rather
than a line-based one could be very useful.  At one point algorithms
for this weren't feasible (hence the line-based nature of diff), but
IIRC, there's at least one algorithm which generates minimal
differences in linear time (or thereabouts), for some definition of
"minimal", so it ought to be usable at the byte level.

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