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1.1 What this Book Contains

The first part of this chapter introduces you to various terms that will recur throughout the book. It also tells you who has worked on GNU tar and its documentation, and where you should send bug reports or comments.

The second chapter is a tutorial (see section Tutorial Introduction to tar) which provides a gentle introduction for people who are new to using tar. It is meant to be self-contained, not requiring any reading from subsequent chapters to make sense. It moves from topic to topic in a logical, progressive order, building on information already explained.

Although the tutorial is paced and structured to allow beginners to learn how to use tar, it is not intended solely for beginners. The tutorial explains how to use the three most frequently used operations (`create', `list', and `extract') as well as two frequently used options (`file' and `verbose'). The other chapters do not refer to the tutorial frequently; however, if a section discusses something which is a complex variant of a basic concept, there may be a cross-reference to that basic concept. (The entire book, including the tutorial, assumes that the reader understands some basic concepts of using a Unix-type operating system; see section Tutorial Introduction to tar.)

The third chapter presents the remaining five operations, and information about using tar options and option syntax.

The other chapters are meant to be used as a reference. Each chapter presents everything that needs to be said about a specific topic.

One of the chapters (see section Date input formats) exists in its entirety in other GNU manuals, and is mostly self-contained. In addition, one section of this manual (see section Basic Tar Format) contains a big quote which is taken directly from tar sources.

In general, we give both long and short (abbreviated) option names at least once in each section where the relevant option is covered, so that novice readers will become familiar with both styles. (A few options have no short versions, and the relevant sections will indicate this.)

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