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The above sections suggest to use `oldest possible' archive
format if in doubt. However, sometimes it is not possible. If you
attempt to archive a file whose metadata cannot be represented using
required format, GNU
tar will print error message and ignore such a
file. You will than have to switch to a format that is able to
handle such values. The format summary table (see section Controlling the Archive Format) will
help you to do so.
In particular, when trying to archive files larger than 8GB or with
timestamps not in the range 1970-01-01 00:00:00 through 2242-03-16
12:56:31 UTC, you will have to chose between GNU and
POSIX archive formats. When considering which format to
choose, bear in mind that the GNU format uses
two's-complement base-256 notation to store values that do not fit
into standard ustar range. Such archives can generally be
read only by a GNU
tar implementation. Moreover, they sometimes
cannot be correctly restored on another hosts even by GNU
example, using two's complement representation for negative time
stamps that assumes a signed 32-bit
time_t generates archives
that are not portable to hosts with differing
On the other hand, POSIX archives, generally speaking, can be extracted by any tar implementation that understands older ustar format. The only exception are files larger than 8GB.
See Describe how POSIX archives are extracted by non POSIX-aware tars.
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