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This is documented in Section 28.9, "Seconds since the Epoch" of the GNU Coreutils info page: info Coreutils 'Seconds since the Epoch' I am including the first paragraph here: The section reads: If you precede a number with `@', it represents an internal time stamp as a count of seconds. The number can contain an internal decimal point (either ...


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It's not the default since for robustness reasons one may want a copy to take place to protect against data corruption. Also for performance reasons you may want the writes to happen at copy time rather than some latency sensitive process working on a CoW file and being delayed by the writes possibly to a different part of a mechanical disk.



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