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8.3.2 Symbolic Links

Normally, when tar archives a symbolic link, it writes a block to the archive naming the target of the link. In that way, the tar archive is a faithful record of the file system contents. When ‘--dereference’ (‘-h’) is used with ‘--create’ (‘-c’), tar archives the files symbolic links point to, instead of the links themselves.

When creating portable archives, use ‘--dereference’ (‘-h’): some systems do not support symbolic links, and moreover, your distribution might be unusable if it contains unresolved symbolic links.

When reading from an archive, the ‘--dereference’ (‘-h’) option causes tar to follow an already-existing symbolic link when tar writes or reads a file named in the archive. Ordinarily, tar does not follow such a link, though it may remove the link before writing a new file. See section Options Controlling the Overwriting of Existing Files.

The ‘--dereference’ option is unsafe if an untrusted user can modify directories while tar is running. See section Security.

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