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GNU paxutils is a suite of archive utilities: it will provide cpio, tar and POSIX pax archivers.


The project has started quite a while ago (the earliest entry in its ChangeLog is dated 1994-06-30) by François Pinard who worked on it and maintained it until 1999. The version 2.4h of the project was released on June, 1999 and is still available from

Unfortunately, after the release the project has changed its maintainer and fell into long hibernation period which ended in June, 2003 when I took over the maintenance duties. During this long period both cpio and tar were being developed separately and in their present state differ considerably from their paxutils variants. Thus it became necessary to merge back all the changes.

More information about the history of the project, including downloads of its previous versions is available from the public pax utilities archive.

Current State

Presently the three projects: tar, cpio and paxutils are under active development, whose final aim is to merge them into paxutils. The process goes in the several stages.

First, the existing common code from the three projects is extracted and stored in paxutils repository. In this phase, paxutils serves as a codebase repository for tar and cpio. This is the current phase.

The second phase is writing the common buffer handling code. It will also be stored in paxutils and used by both archiver projects.

In the third phase, tar and cpio specific code begins moving into paxutils repository. This code will form libpax library that will be used by both archivers.

Fourth phase: writing pax utility. Given the existence of libpax everything should be ready for it.

Fifth phase: final incorporation of tar and cpio into paxutils. From this phase on paxutils will be the authoritative distribution of both archivers and their corresponding repositories will be closed.

During all these phases, the improvements from the last paxutils snapshot and ideas from its TODO list will be propagated back into tar and cpio repositories, so at the end of the fifth phase paxutils will contain both archivers in their up-to-date state with all the useful features from old versions integrated.


The project's homepage at Savannah contains latest news and patches for the project.

Alpha versions are available from

Please send FSF & GNU inquiries & questions to There are also other ways to contact the FSF.

Please send comments on these web pages to, send other questions to

Copyright (C) 2001 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111, USA

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Updated: $Id: paxutils.html,v 1.5 2011/04/23 14:09:57 gray Exp $