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Too bad: ESXi busybox has `diff`, but not `patch`

Posted by jpluimers on 2022/03/02

On my ESXi boxes, I have a directory with local scripts that in part depend on the machine.

So I contemplated patching the dending parts with patch.

Then I found out that the BusyBox that VMware built for ESXi does have diff, but not patch:

# $(readlink -f "`which diff`")
BusyBox v1.29.3 (2021-01-17 01:25:00 PST) multi-call binary.
BusyBox is copyrighted by many authors between 1998-2015.
Licensed under GPLv2. See source distribution for detailed
copyright notices.

Usage: busybox [function [arguments]...]
   or: busybox --list
   or: function [arguments]...

    BusyBox is a multi-call binary that combines many common Unix
    utilities into a single executable.  Most people will create a
    link to busybox for each function they wish to use and BusyBox
    will act like whatever it was invoked as.

Currently defined functions:
    addgroup, adduser, arch, ash, awk, basename, bunzip2, bzcat, bzip2, cat, chgrp, chmod, chown, chvt, cksum, clear, cp, crond,
    cut, date, dd, delgroup, deluser, diff, dirname, dnsdomainname, du, echo, egrep, eject, env, expr, false, fdisk, fgrep, find,
    fstrim, getty, grep, groups, gunzip, gzip, halt, head, hexdump, hostname, inetd, init, kill, ln, logger, login, ls, lzop,
    lzopcat, md5sum, mkdir, mkfifo, mknod, mktemp, more, mv, nohup, nslookup, od, passwd, poweroff, printf, readlink, reboot,
    reset, resize, rm, rmdir, sed, seq, setsid, sh, sha1sum, sha256sum, sha3sum, sha512sum, sleep, sort, ssl_client, stat, stty,
    sum, sync, tail, tar, taskset, tee, test, time, timeout, touch, true, uname, uniq, unlink, unlzop, unzip, usleep, vi, watch,
    wc, wget, which, who, xargs, zcat

This list is much shorter than the applets that are supported in [Wayback] BusyBox – The Swiss Army Knife of Embedded Linux, so VMware did cut out quite a few.

Generating the above output

The command-line trick above first expands diff using the output of which diff, then finds out where it links to through the readlink -f wrapper there the back-quotes “`” get this output:

# readlink -f "`which diff`"

Finally the $(...) executes the output of readlink.

It is based on [Wayback] bash – How to resolve symbolic links in a shell script – Stack Overflow

readlink -f "$path"

Editor’s note: The above works with GNU readlink and FreeBSD/PC-BSD/OpenBSD readlink, but not on OS X as of 10.11.GNU readlink offers additional, related options…

Need to devise a way to apply patches

Given there is no patch, I need to think about a good way to apply patches, for instance to snip this into /etc/rc.local.d/ in a reliable way:


# local binaries are in /vmfs/volumes/NVMe980PRO_1TB/local-bin/
# link that directory from /opt/bin
# then add /opt/bin to the PATH in /etc/profile so that on each logon it becomes available
# this means you need to logon twice after reboot:
# - first to patch /etc/profile
# - second to have the correct PATH loaded from /etc/profile
# direcory exist trick from

patch_etc_profile_PATH() {
    if [ -d "$1" ]; then
      ln -s "$1" "/opt/bin"
      sed -i -e 's!PATH=/bin:/sbin!PATH=/bin:/sbin:/opt/bin/!' /etc/profile

patch_etc_profile_PATH /vmfs/volumes/NVMe980PRO_1TB/local-bin/



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