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File Name arguments specify which files in the file system
tar operates on, when creating or adding to an archive, or which
tar operates on, when reading or deleting from
an archive. See section The Five Advanced
To specify file names, you can include them as the last arguments on the command line, as follows:
tar operation [option1 option2 …] [file name-1 file name-2 …]
If a file name begins with dash (‘-’), precede it with ‘--add-file’ option to prevent it from being treated as an option.
By default GNU
tar attempts to unquote each file or member
name, replacing escape sequences according to the following
|\a||Audible bell (ASCII 7)|
|\b||Backspace (ASCII 8)|
|\f||Form feed (ASCII 12)|
|\n||New line (ASCII 10)|
|\r||Carriage return (ASCII 13)|
|\t||Horizontal tabulation (ASCII 9)|
|\v||Vertical tabulation (ASCII 11)|
|\n||ASCII n (n should be an octal number of up to 3 digits)|
A backslash followed by any other symbol is retained.
This default behavior is controlled by the following command line option:
Enable unquoting input file or member names (default).
Disable unquoting input file or member names.
If you specify a directory name as a file name argument, all the files
in that directory are operated on by
If you do not specify files,
tar behavior differs depending
on the operation mode as described below:
tar is invoked with ‘--create’ (‘-c’),
tar will stop immediately, reporting the following:
$ tar cf a.tar tar: Cowardly refusing to create an empty archive Try 'tar --help' or 'tar --usage' for more information.
If you specify either ‘--list’ (‘-t’) or
‘--extract’ (‘--get’, ‘-x’),
operates on all the archive members in the archive.
If run with ‘--diff’ option, tar will compare the archive with the contents of the current working directory.
If you specify any other operation,
tar does nothing.
tar takes file names from the command line. However,
there are other ways to specify file or member names, or to modify the
manner in which
tar selects the files or members upon which to
operate. In general, these methods work both for specifying the names
of files and archive members.
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