tar(1) General Commands Manual tar(1)
tar - Manipulates tape archives
tar function_key[bBfFEhilLmpPsSvVwzn] [n | o] [option_argument...] [-e exception]... [-C directory]... [file...]
tar -function_key[options] [option_argument]... [n | o] [option_argument...] [-e exception]... [-C directory]... [file...]
The tar command saves and restores multiple files on a single file (usually a magnetic tape, but it can be any file).
[Tru64 UNIX] The syntax of the tar command has recently changed. The minus sign (-) at the beginning of a key/option set is no longer
optional. If tar sees a minus sign in front of an option that requires an argument, tar expects the argument to follow the option immedi-
ately. In order to use the original tar syntax in existing scripts, you must remove the minus sign if more than one option requiring an
argument is given. Consider this command in the old form: tar -xbfp 20 /dev/ntape/tape0
Under the new implementation, this command becomes tar xbfp 20 /dev/ntape/tape0
or tar -xb 20 -f /dev/ntape/tape0 -p
Interfaces documented on this reference page conform to industry standards as follows:
Refer to the standards(5) reference page for more information about industry standards and associated tags.
[Tru64 UNIX] The function performed by tar is specified by one of the following key letters: Creates a new archive. When writing to a
tape device, tar begins from the current tape position. Writes the named files at the end of the specified archive. If the archive is on
tape, tar expects that the tape is currently positioned to the beginning of the archive. Lists the contents of the archive. If the file
argument does not restrict the operation to one or more specific directories or files, tar lists all of the file names in the archive.
Adds the named files to the tape, if the files are not already there or if they were modified since last copied to the tape. Extracts the
named files from the tape. If a named file matches a directory whose contents were written to the tape, this directory is (recursively)
extracted. The owner, modification time, and mode are restored (if possible). If no file argument is given, the entire content of the
tape is extracted. If multiple entries specifying the same file are on the tape, the last one overwrites all earlier ones.
[Tru64 UNIX] The following options can be used with function keys: The tar command uses the next argument as the blocking factor for tape
records. The default is 20 (larger values can be specified at the risk of creating a tape archive that some systems' tape drives might not
be able to restore). Use this option only with raw magnetic tape archives. The block size is determined automatically when reading tapes
(key letters x and t). [Tru64 UNIX] Forces input and output blocking to the blocking factor (see the b option). The B option exists so
that tar can work across a communications channel where the blocking cannot be maintained. [Tru64 UNIX] The tar command uses the next
argument, exception, as the name of the file to be excluded from the archive. Processes extended headers, allowing you to archive or
extract extended UIDs and GIDs, long filenames, link-names, large files, and long user and group names The tar command uses the next argu-
ment as the name of the archive instead of /dev/ntape/tapen. (See the entry for the n option.) If the name of the file is - (dash), tar
writes to standard output or reads from standard input, whichever is appropriate. Thus, tar can be used as the head or tail of a filter
chain. The tar utility can also be used to move hierarchies with the command: cd fromdir; tar cf - . | (cd todir; tar xpf -) [Tru64
UNIX] Checks certain file names before archiving. Source Code Control System (SCCS), Revision Control System (RCS), files named core,
errs, a.out, and files ending in are not archived. [Tru64 UNIX] Forces tar to follow symbolic links as if they were normal files or
directories. Normally, tar does not follow symbolic links, but instead saves the link text in the archive. [Tru64 UNIX] Ignores checksum
errors. The tar command writes a file header containing a checksum for each file in the archive. When this option is not specified, the
system verifies the contents of the header blocks by recomputing the checksum and stops with a directory checksum error when a mismatch
occurs. When this option is specified, tar logs the error and then scans forward until it finds a valid header block. This permits
restoring files from later volumes of a multivolume archive without reading earlier volumes. [Tru64 UNIX] Tells tar to complain if it
cannot resolve all of the links to the files dumped. If this option is not specified, no error messages are printed. [Tru64 UNIX] Tries
to create a symbolic link if tar is unsuccessful in its attempt to link (hard link) two files. Tells tar not to restore the modification
times. The modification time is the time of extraction. This is always the case with symbolic links. [Tru64 UNIX] Allows tar headers to
be created with file names that cannot be null-terminated if they are exactly the maximum length (as specified in POSIX). This option is
mutually exclusive with the o option (that is, new versus old). When specified, each of these options turns off the other; neither option
is turned on by default, however. The o option is provided for backward compatibility. Specify this option if the archive is to be
restored on a system with an older version of tar. On output, tar normally places information specifying owner and modes of directories in
the archive. Former versions of tar, when encountering this information will give an error message of the following form: name: cannot
[Tru64 UNIX] This option suppresses the directory information. It also prevents archiving special files and FIFOs that earlier ver-
sions of tar would not be able to extract properly. (Although anyone can archive special files, who has superuser authority can
extract them from the archives.)
When o is used for reading, it causes the extracted file to take on the User and Group ID (UID and GID) of the user running the pro-
gram, rather than those of the tape. This is the default for the ordinary user.
[Tru64 UNIX] This option is mutually exclusive with the n option (that is, new vs. old). When specified, each of these options
turns off the other; neither option is turned on by default, however. [Tru64 UNIX] Restores files to their original modes, ignor-
ing the present umask. Set-user-ID and sticky information will also be restored if the user is superuser. [Tru64 UNIX] Specifies
the prefix that is to be stripped off of the file names archived to or extracted from tape. (See also the s option.) [Tru64
UNIX] Tells tar to strip off any leading slashes from pathnames during extraction. This is useful when restoring a tape that was
created on a system with a different file system structure. (See also the P option.) [Tru64 UNIX] The named file immediately fol-
lowing this option contains a list of file names separated by newlines. This list is added to (c function key, r function key) or
extracted from (x function key) the archive. The -R option is incompatible with the -C option. [Tru64 UNIX] Specifies the number
of 512-byte blocks per volume (first form), independent of the tape blocking factor. You can also specify the size of the tape in
feet, and optionally density, by using the second form. Feet are assumed to be 11 inches long to be conservative. This option lets
you deal more easily with multivolume tape archives, where tar must be able to determine how many blocks fit on each volume.
[Tru64 UNIX] Tape drives vary in density capabilities. The density argument is used in the amount of data that tar can fit on a
tape. Normally tar does its work silently. The v (verbose) option makes tar print the name of each file it processes as specified
by the function key. With the t function key, the verbose option gives more information about the tape entries than just their
names. [Tru64 UNIX] Prevents any extended attributes from being archived with associated files. This option is particularly use-
ful for archiving files that are to be restored with previous versions of tar and cpio. Causes tar to print the action to be taken
followed by the name of the file, and then to wait for the user's confirmation. If a word beginning with y, or the locale's defini-
tion of an affirmative response, is given, the action is performed. If any other input is given, the action is not performed.
[Tru64 UNIX] Positions the tape after the EOF marker on extraction or listing. The z option lets the user extract or list tapes
that have multiple archives on them one after the other without error as a result of the tape not being positioned correctly for the
next extraction or listing. [Tru64 UNIX] Selects /dev/ntape/tapen (the variable n means 0-9) as the tape drive on which the tape
is mounted. The default is drive 0 (/dev/ntape/tape0). [Tru64 UNIX] Adds the following argument to a list of exception strings
that prevent files whose names match exactly from being archived. When used with the -C option, the list of exceptions becomes rela-
tive to each new directory. [Tru64 UNIX] If a file name is preceded by -C, tar performs a chdir() to that file name. This allows
multiple directories not related by a close common parent to be archived using short relative pathnames. For example, to archive
files from /usr/include and from /etc, one might use the following command line: tar c -C /usr/include . -C /etc .
[Tru64 UNIX] Therefore, if you do not specify an absolute file name, the file name is considered relative to the previous -C direc-
tory. When you specify this option multiple times on the command line, make sure to specify subsequent -C directories relative to
the preceding -C directories.
[Tru64 UNIX] If an error occurs while trying to change to the requested directory, subsequent file names on the command line that
are not absolute (that is, have no leading / (slash)) are skipped until the next -C option is specified.
[Tru64 UNIX] Only the -e and -C options must be preceded by a - (dash) and can be specified more than once on a single command line or
interspersed within the list of file names. All other options must be specified together (with no separating spaces) before -e, -C, and
the file list. For all options that require arguments, the arguments must follow the string of options and be ordered in the same way as
the specified options.
[Tru64 UNIX] Previous restrictions on the tar command's ability to properly handle blocked archives have been lifted.
The tar command is used to save and restore data from traditional format tar archives.
The actions of the tar command are controlled by a string containing, at most, one function key and possibly one or more options. Other
arguments to tar are file or directory names specifying which files to dump or restore. In all cases, appearance of a directory name
refers to the files and (recursively) subdirectories of that directory.
The LC_MESSAGES variable determines the locale's equivalent of y or n (for yes/no responses).
The tar command is marked as LEGACY in XCU Issue 5. [Tru64 UNIX] There is no way to ask for the nth occurrence of a file. [Tru64
UNIX] Tape errors are handled ungracefully. [Tru64 UNIX] The u function can be slow. [Tru64 UNIX] The current limit on file name
length is 256 bytes. The current limit on file links (hard or soft) is 100 bytes. [Tru64 UNIX] There is no way selectively to follow
symbolic links. [Tru64 UNIX] When extracting tapes created with the r or u functions, directory modification times might not be set cor-
rectly. [Tru64 UNIX] After encountering tape write errors, tar queries the operator about performing a rewrite. If the operator requests
a rewrite, a rewind is performed, followed by an attempt to rewrite the data. In the event the no-rewind device is used, the user should
always load a new tape to avoid the possibility of overwriting previously written archives.
The following exit values are returned: Successful completion. An error occurred.
To create a tar archive to device /dev/ntape/tape0, enter: tar cvfb /dev/ntape/tape0 20 -e ./foo -C /usr/glenn . -e ./bar -e ./logs/log-
file -C /usr/gaston .
The preceding command line specifies a blocking factor of 20. The resulting archive contains all files and directories in
/usr/glenn except for file and all files and directories in /usr/gaston except for files To create a tar archive as a disk file,
enter: tar cvf /tmp/mybackup.tar -e $HOME/zeugma $HOME
The preceding command line uses the f option to create a tar archive named mybackup.tar in the /tmp directory. The archive contains
the user's home directory and its contents, including all subdirectories and files except the zeugma subdirectory and its contents,
which are excluded by the -e (exception) option.
The following environment variables affect the execution of tar: Provides a default value for the internationalization variables that are
unset or null. If LANG is unset or null, the corresponding value from the default locale is used. If any of the internationalization vari-
ables contain an invalid setting, the utility behaves as if none of the variables had been defined. If set to a non-empty string value,
overrides the values of all the other internationalization variables. Determines the locale for the interpretation of sequences of bytes
of text data as characters (for example, single-byte as opposed to multibyte characters in arguments). Determines the locale for the for-
mat and contents of diagnostic messages written to standard error. Determines the format of date and time strings output when listing the
contents of an archive. Determines the location of message catalogs for the processing of LC_MESSAGES. Determines the time zone used with
date and time strings.
Device name used with the n option. Temporary file used with the u function.
Commands: cpio(1), pax(1)
Functions: chdir(2), umask(2)