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tar uses an archive file name that was compiled when
it was built on the system; usually this name refers to some physical
tape drive on the machine. However, the person who installed
on the system may not have set the default to a meaningful value as far as
most users are concerned. As a result, you will usually want to tell
tar where to find (or create) the archive. The
‘--file=archive-name’ (‘-f archive-name’)
option allows you to either specify or name a file to use as the archive
instead of the default archive file location.
Name the archive to create or operate on. Use in conjunction with any operation.
For example, in this
$ tar -cvf collection.tar blues folk jazz
‘collection.tar’ is the name of the archive. It must directly
follow the ‘-f’ option, since whatever directly follows ‘-f’
will end up naming the archive. If you neglect to specify an
archive name, you may end up overwriting a file in the working directory
with the archive you create since
tar will use this file's name
for the archive name.
An archive can be saved as a file in the file system, sent through a pipe or over a network, or written to an I/O device such as a tape, floppy disk, or CD write drive.
If you do not name the archive,
tar uses the value of the
TAPE as the file name for the archive. If
that is not available,
tar uses a default, compiled-in archive
name, usually that for tape unit zero (i.e., ‘/dev/tu00’).
If you use ‘-’ as an archive-name,
tar reads the
archive from standard input (when listing or extracting files), or
writes it to standard output (when creating an archive). If you use
‘-’ as an archive-name when modifying an archive,
tar reads the original archive from its standard input and
writes the entire new archive to its standard output.
The following example is a convenient way of copying directory hierarchy from ‘sourcedir’ to ‘targetdir’.
$ (cd sourcedir; tar -cf - .) | (cd targetdir; tar -xpf -)
The ‘-C’ option allows to avoid using subshells:
$ tar -C sourcedir -cf - . | tar -C targetdir -xpf -
In both examples above, the leftmost
tar invocation archives
the contents of ‘sourcedir’ to the standard output, while the
rightmost one reads this archive from its standard input and
extracts it. The ‘-p’ option tells it to restore permissions
of the extracted files.
To specify an archive file on a device attached to a remote machine, use the following:
tar will set up the remote connection, if possible, and
prompt you for a username and password. If you use
will attempt to set up the remote connection using your username
as the username on the remote machine.
If the archive file name includes a colon (‘:’), then it is assumed
to be a file on another machine. If the archive file is
‘user@host:file’, then file is used on the
host host. The remote host is accessed using the
program, with a username of user. If the username is omitted
(along with the ‘@’ sign), then your user name will be used.
(This is the normal
rsh behavior.) It is necessary for the
remote machine, in addition to permitting your
rsh access, to
have the ‘rmt’ program installed (this command is included in
tar distribution and by default is installed under
‘prefix/libexec/rmt’, where prefix means your
installation prefix). If you need to use a file whose name includes a
colon, then the remote tape drive behavior
can be inhibited by using the ‘--force-local’ option.
When the archive is being created to ‘/dev/null’, GNU
tries to minimize input and output operations. The Amanda backup
system, when used with GNU
tar, has an initial sizing pass which
uses this feature.
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