|-c||Create a new archive containing the specified items. The long option form is -create .|
|-r||Like -c , but new entries are appended to the archive. Note that this only works on uncompressed archives stored in regular files. The -f option is required. The long option form is -append .|
|-t||List archive contents to stdout. The long option form is -list .|
|-u||Like -r , but new entries are added only if they have a modification date newer than the corresponding entry in the archive. Note that this only works on uncompressed archives stored in regular files. The -f option is required. The long form is -update .|
|-x||Extract to disk from the archive. If a file with the same name appears more than once in the archive, each copy will be extracted, with later copies overwriting (replacing) earlier copies. The long option form is -extract .|
In -c , -r , or -u mode, each specified file or directory is added to the archive in the order specified on the command line. By default, the contents of each directory are also archived.
In extract or list mode, the entire command line is read and parsed before the archive is opened. The pathnames or patterns on the command line indicate which items in the archive should be processed. Patterns are shell-style globbing patterns as documented in tcsh(1).
Unless specifically stated otherwise, options are applicable in all operating modes.
The currently supported modules and keys are:
@ archive (c and r mode only) The specified archive is opened and the entries in it will be appended to the current archive. As a simple example,
-c -f - newfile @ original.tar
writes a new archive to standard output containing a file newfile and all of the entries from original.tar. In contrast,
-c -f - newfile original.tar
creates a new archive with only two entries. Similarly,
-czf --format pax @ -
reads an archive from standard input (whose format will be determined automatically) and converts it into a gzip-compressed pax-format archive on stdout. In this way, tar can be used to convert archives from one format to another.
-a -, -auto-compress (c mode only) Use the archive suffix to decide a set of the format and the compressions. As a simple example,
-a -cf archive.tgz source.c source.h
creates a new archive with restricted pax format and gzip compression,
-a -cf archive.tar.bz2.uu source.c source.h
creates a new archive with restricted pax format and bzip2 compression and uuencode compression,
-a -cf archive.zip source.c source.h
creates a new archive with zip format,
-a -jcf archive.tgz source.c source.h
ignores the "-j" option, and creates a new archive with restricted pax format and gzip compression,
-a -jcf archive.xxx source.c source.h
if it is unknown suffix or no suffix, creates a new archive with restricted pax format and bzip2 compression.
-B -, -read-full-blocks Ignored for compatibility with other tar(1) implementations. -b blocksize,-block-size blocksize Specify the block size, in 512-byte records, for tape drive I/O. As a rule, this argument is only needed when reading from or writing to tape drives, and usually not even then as the default block size of 20 records (10240 bytes) is very common. -C directory,-cd directory,-directory directory In c and r mode, this changes the directory before adding the following files. In x mode, change directories after opening the archive but before extracting entries from the archive. -chroot (x mode only) chroot to the current directory after processing any -C options and before extracting any files. -disable-copyfile Mac OS X specific. Disable the use of copyfile(3). -exclude pattern Do not process files or directories that match the specified pattern. Note that exclusions take precedence over patterns or filenames specified on the command line. -format format (c, r, u mode only) Use the specified format for the created archive. Supported formats include "cpio", "pax", "shar", and "ustar". Other formats may also be supported; see libarchive-formats(5) for more information about currently-supported formats. In r and u modes, when extending an existing archive, the format specified here must be compatible with the format of the existing archive on disk. -f file,-file file Read the archive from or write the archive to the specified file. The filename can be - for standard input or standard output. The default varies by system; on
.Fx , the default is /dev/sa0; on Linux, the default is /dev/st0.
-gid id Use the provided group id number. On extract, this overrides the group id in the archive; the group name in the archive will be ignored. On create, this overrides the group id read from disk; if -gname is not also specified, the group name will be set to match the group id. -gname name Use the provided group name. On extract, this overrides the group name in the archive; if the provided group name does not exist on the system, the group id (from the archive or from the -gid option) will be used instead. On create, this sets the group name that will be stored in the archive; the name will not be verified against the system group database. -H (c and r mode only) Symbolic links named on the command line will be followed; the target of the link will be archived, not the link itself. -h (c and r mode only) Synonym for -L . -I Synonym for -T . -help Show usage. -hfsCompression (x mode only) Mac OS X specific(v10.6 or later). Compress extracted regular files with HFS+ compression. -include pattern Process only files or directories that match the specified pattern. Note that exclusions specified with -exclude take precedence over inclusions. If no inclusions are explicitly specified, all entries are processed by default. The -include option is especially useful when filtering archives. For example, the command
-c -f new.tar-include=*foo* @ old.tgz
creates a new archive new.tar containing only the entries from old.tgz containing the string 'foo'.
-J -, -xz (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with xz(1). In extract or list modes, this option is ignored. Note that, unlike other tar implementations, this implementation recognizes XZ compression automatically when reading archives. -j -, -bzip -, -bzip2 -, -bunzip2 (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with bzip2(1). In extract or list modes, this option is ignored. Note that, unlike other tar implementations, this implementation recognizes bzip2 compression automatically when reading archives. -k -, -keep-old-files (x mode only) Do not overwrite existing files. In particular, if a file appears more than once in an archive, later copies will not overwrite earlier copies. -keep-newer-files (x mode only) Do not overwrite existing files that are newer than the versions appearing in the archive being extracted. -L -, -dereference (c and r mode only) All symbolic links will be followed. Normally, symbolic links are archived as such. With this option, the target of the link will be archived instead. -l -, -check-links (c and r modes only) Issue a warning message unless all links to each file are archived. -lrzip (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with lrzip(1). In extract or list modes, this option is ignored. -lzma (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with the original LZMA algorithm. Use of this option is discouraged and new archives should be created with -xz instead. Note that, unlike other tar implementations, this implementation recognizes LZMA compression automatically when reading archives. -lzop (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with lzop(1). In extract or list modes, this option is ignored. -m -, -modification-time (x mode only) Do not extract modification time. By default, the modification time is set to the time stored in the archive. -n -, -norecurse -, -no-recursion (c, r, u modes only) Do not recursively archive the contents of directories. -newer date (c, r, u modes only) Only include files and directories newer than the specified date. This compares ctime entries. -newer-mtime date (c, r, u modes only) Like -newer , except it compares mtime entries instead of ctime entries. -newer-than file (c, r, u modes only) Only include files and directories newer than the specified file. This compares ctime entries. -newer-mtime-than file (c, r, u modes only) Like -newer-than , except it compares mtime entries instead of ctime entries. -nodump (c and r modes only) Honor the nodump file flag by skipping this file. -nopreserveHFSCompression (x mode only) Mac OS X specific(v10.6 or later). Do not compress extracted regular files which were compressed with HFS+ compression before archived. By default, compress the regular files again with HFS+ compression. -null (use with -I or -T ) Filenames or patterns are separated by null characters, not by newlines. This is often used to read filenames output by the -print0 option to find(1). -no-same-owner (x mode only) Do not extract owner and group IDs. This is the reverse of -same-owner and the default behavior if tar is run as non-root. -no-same-permissions (x mode only) Do not extract full permissions (SGID, SUID, sticky bit, ACLs, extended attributes or extended file flags). This is the reverse of -p and the default behavior if tar is run as non-root. -numeric-owner This is equivalent to -uname "" -gname "". On extract, it causes user and group names in the archive to be ignored in favor of the numeric user and group ids. On create, it causes user and group names to not be stored in the archive. -O -, -to-stdout (x, t modes only) In extract (-x) mode, files will be written to standard out rather than being extracted to disk. In list (-t) mode, the file listing will be written to stderr rather than the usual stdout. -o (x mode) Use the user and group of the user running the program rather than those specified in the archive. Note that this has no significance unless -p is specified, and the program is being run by the root user. In this case, the file modes and flags from the archive will be restored, but ACLs or owner information in the archive will be discarded. -o (c, r, u mode) A synonym for -format ustar -older date (c, r, u modes only) Only include files and directories older than the specified date. This compares ctime entries. -older-mtime date (c, r, u modes only) Like -older , except it compares mtime entries instead of ctime entries. -older-than file (c, r, u modes only) Only include files and directories older than the specified file. This compares ctime entries. -older-mtime-than file (c, r, u modes only) Like -older-than , except it compares mtime entries instead of ctime entries. -one-file-system (c, r, and u modes) Do not cross mount points. -options options Select optional behaviors for particular modules. The argument is a text string containing comma-separated keywords and values. These are passed to the modules that handle particular formats to control how those formats will behave. Each option has one of the following forms: key=value The key will be set to the specified value in every module that supports it. Modules that do not support this key will ignore it. key The key will be enabled in every module that supports it. This is equivalent to key =1. !key The key will be disabled in every module that supports it. module:key=value, module:key, module:!key As above, but the corresponding key and value will be provided only to modules whose name matches module.
If a provided option is not supported by any module, that is a fatal error.
iso9660:joliet Support Joliet extensions. This is enabled by default, use !joliet or iso9660:!joliet to disable. iso9660:rockridge Support Rock Ridge extensions. This is enabled by default, use !rockridge or iso9660:!rockridge to disable. gzip:compression-level A decimal integer from 1 to 9 specifying the gzip compression level. gzip:timestamp Store timestamp. This is enabled by default, use !timestamp or gzip:!timestamp to disable. lrzip:compression = type Use type as compression method. Supported values are bzip2, gzip, lzo (ultra fast), and zpaq (best, extremely slow). lrzip:compression-level A decimal integer from 1 to 9 specifying the lrzip compression level. lzop:compression-level A decimal integer from 1 to 9 specifying the lzop compression level. xz:compression-level A decimal integer from 0 to 9 specifying the xz compression level. mtree: keyword The mtree writer module allows you to specify which mtree keywords will be included in the output. Supported keywords include: cksum, device, flags, gid, gname, indent, link, md5, mode, nlink, rmd160, sha1, sha256, sha384, sha512, size, time, uid, uname. The default is equivalent to: "device, flags, gid, gname, link, mode, nlink, size, time, type, uid, uname". mtree:all Enables all of the above keywords. You can also use mtree:!all to disable all keywords. mtree:use-set Enable generation of /set lines in the output. mtree:indent Produce human-readable output by indenting options and splitting lines to fit into 80 columns. zip:compression = type Use type as compression method. Supported values are store (uncompressed) and deflate (gzip algorithm).
-P -, -absolute-paths Preserve pathnames. By default, absolute pathnames (those that begin with a / character) have the leading slash removed both when creating archives and extracting from them. Also, tar will refuse to extract archive entries whose pathnames contain .. or whose target directory would be altered by a symlink. This option suppresses these behaviors. -p -, -insecure -, -preserve-permissions (x mode only) Preserve file permissions. Attempt to restore the full permissions, including owner, file modes, file flags and ACLs, if available, for each item extracted from the archive. This is the default, if tar is being run by root and can be overridden by also specifying -no-same-owner and -no-same-permissions . -posix (c, r, u mode only) Synonym for -format pax -q -, -fast-read (x and t mode only) Extract or list only the first archive entry that matches each pattern or filename operand. Exit as soon as each specified pattern or filename has been matched. By default, the archive is always read to the very end, since there can be multiple entries with the same name and, by convention, later entries overwrite earlier entries. This option is provided as a performance optimization. -S (x mode only) Extract files as sparse files. For every block on disk, check first if it contains only NULL bytes and seek over it otherwise. This works similar to the conv=sparse option of dd. -s pattern Modify file or archive member names according to pattern. The pattern has the format /old/new/ [ghHprRsS] where old is a basic regular expression, new is the replacement string of the matched part, and the optional trailing letters modify how the replacement is handled. If old is not matched, the pattern is skipped. Within new, ~ is substituted with the match, \1 to \9 with the content of the corresponding captured group. The optional trailing g specifies that matching should continue after the matched part and stop on the first unmatched pattern. The optional trailing s specifies that the pattern applies to the value of symbolic links. The optional trailing p specifies that after a successful substitution the original path name and the new path name should be printed to standard error. Optional trailing H, R, or S characters suppress substitutions for hardlink targets, regular filenames, or symlink targets, respectively. Optional trailing h, r, or s characters enable substitutions for hardlink targets, regular filenames, or symlink targets, respectively. The default is hrs which applies substitutions to all names. In particular, it is never necessary to specify h, r, or s. -same-owner (x mode only) Extract owner and group IDs. This is the reverse of -no-same-owner and the default behavior if tar is run as root. -strip-components count Remove the specified number of leading path elements. Pathnames with fewer elements will be silently skipped. Note that the pathname is edited after checking inclusion/exclusion patterns but before security checks. -T filename,-files-from filename In x or t mode, tar will read the list of names to be extracted from filename. In c mode, tar will read names to be archived from filename. The special name "-C" on a line by itself will cause the current directory to be changed to the directory specified on the following line. Names are terminated by newlines unless -null is specified. Note that -null also disables the special handling of lines containing "-C". Note: If you are generating lists of files using find(1), you probably want to use -n as well. -totals (c, r, u mode only) After archiving all files, print a summary to stderr. -U -, -unlink -, -unlink-first (x mode only) Unlink files before creating them. This can be a minor performance optimization if most files already exist, but can make things slower if most files do not already exist. This flag also causes tar to remove intervening directory symlinks instead of reporting an error. See the SECURITY section below for more details. -uid id Use the provided user id number and ignore the user name from the archive. On create, if -uname is not also specified, the user name will be set to match the user id. -uname name Use the provided user name. On extract, this overrides the user name in the archive; if the provided user name does not exist on the system, it will be ignored and the user id (from the archive or from the -uid option) will be used instead. On create, this sets the user name that will be stored in the archive; the name is not verified against the system user database. -use-compress-program program Pipe the input (in x or t mode) or the output (in c mode) through program instead of using the builtin compression support. -v -, -verbose Produce verbose output. In create and extract modes, tar will list each file name as it is read from or written to the archive. In list mode, tar will produce output similar to that of ls(1). Additional -v options will provide additional detail. -version Print version of tar and libarchive, and exit. -w -, -confirmation -, -interactive Ask for confirmation for every action. -X filename,-exclude-from filename Read a list of exclusion patterns from the specified file. See -exclude for more information about the handling of exclusions. -y (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with bzip2(1). In extract or list modes, this option is ignored. Note that, unlike other tar implementations, this implementation recognizes bzip2 compression automatically when reading archives. -Z -, -compress -, -uncompress (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with compress(1). In extract or list modes, this option is ignored. Note that, unlike other tar implementations, this implementation recognizes compress compression automatically when reading archives. -z -, -gunzip -, -gzip (c mode only) Compress the resulting archive with gzip(1). In extract or list modes, this option is ignored. Note that, unlike other tar implementations, this implementation recognizes gzip compression automatically when reading archives.
The following environment variables affect the execution of tar:
TAR_READER_OPTIONS The default options for format readers and compression readers. The -options option overrides this. TAR_WRITER_OPTIONS The default options for format writers and compression writers. The -options option overrides this. LANG The locale to use. See environ(7) for more information. TAPE The default device. The -f option overrides this. Please see the description of the -f option above for more details. TZ The timezone to use when displaying dates. See environ(7) for more information.
The following creates a new archive called file.tar.gz that contains two files source.c and source.h:
-czf file.tar.gz source.c source.h
To view a detailed table of contents for this archive:
To extract all entries from the archive on the default tape drive:
To examine the contents of an ISO 9660 cdrom image:
To move file hierarchies, invoke tar as
-cf --C srcdir . |-xpf --C destdir
or more traditionally
cd srcdir ;-cf - . |( cd destdir ;-xpf -)
In create mode, the list of files and directories to be archived can also include directory change instructions of the form -C foo/baz and archive inclusions of the form @ archive-file. For example, the command line
-c -f new.tar foo1 @ old.tgz -C /tmp foo2
will create a new archive new.tar. tar will read the file foo1 from the current directory and add it to the output archive. It will then read each entry from old.tgz and add those entries to the output archive. Finally, it will switch to the /tmp directory and add foo2 to the output archive.
An input file in mtree(5) format can be used to create an output archive with arbitrary ownership, permissions, or names that differ from existing data on disk:
$ cat input.mtree
usr/bin uid=0 gid=0 mode=0755 type=dir
usr/bin/ls uid=0 gid=0 mode=0755 type=file content=myls
$ tar -cvf output.tar @input.mtree
The -newer and -newer-mtime switches accept a variety of common date and time specifications, including "12 Mar 2005 7:14:29pm", "2005-03-12 19:14", "5 minutes ago", and "19:14 PST May 1".
The -options argument can be used to control various details of archive generation or reading. For example, you can generate mtree output which only contains type, time, and uid keywords:
-cf file.tar-format=mtree -options=!all,type,time,uid dir
or you can set the compression level used by gzip or xz compression:
-czf file.tar-options=compression-level=9 .
The bundled-arguments format is supported for compatibility with historic implementations. It consists of an initial word (with no leading - character) in which each character indicates an option. Arguments follow as separate words. The order of the arguments must match the order of the corresponding characters in the bundled command word. For example,
tbf 32 file.tar
specifies three flags t, b, and f. The b and f flags both require arguments, so there must be two additional items on the command line. The 32 is the argument to the b flag, and file.tar is the argument to the f flag.
The mode options c, r, t, u, and x and the options b, f, l, m, o, v, and w comply with SUSv2.
For maximum portability, scripts that invoke tar should use the bundled-argument format above, should limit themselves to the c, t, and x modes, and the b, f, m, v, and w options.
Additional long options are provided to improve compatibility with other tar implementations.
Certain security issues are common to many archiving programs, including tar. In particular, carefully-crafted archives can request that tar extract files to locations outside of the target directory. This can potentially be used to cause unwitting users to overwrite files they did not intend to overwrite. If the archive is being extracted by the superuser, any file on the system can potentially be overwritten. There are three ways this can happen. Although tar has mechanisms to protect against each one, savvy users should be aware of the implications:
To protect yourself, you should be wary of any archives that come from untrusted sources. You should examine the contents of an archive with
- Archive entries can have absolute pathnames. By default, tar removes the leading / character from filenames before restoring them to guard against this problem.
- Archive entries can have pathnames that include .. components. By default, tar will not extract files containing .. components in their pathname.
- Archive entries can exploit symbolic links to restore files to other directories. An archive can restore a symbolic link to another directory, then use that link to restore a file into that directory. To guard against this, tar checks each extracted path for symlinks. If the final path element is a symlink, it will be removed and replaced with the archive entry. If -U is specified, any intermediate symlink will also be unconditionally removed. If neither -U nor -P is specified, tar will refuse to extract the entry.
before extraction. You should use the -k option to ensure that tar will not overwrite any existing files or the -U option to remove any pre-existing files. You should generally not extract archives while running with super-user privileges. Note that the -P option to tar disables the security checks above and allows you to extract an archive while preserving any absolute pathnames, .. components, or symlinks to other directories.
bzip2(1), compress(1), cpio(1), gzip(1), mt(1), pax(1), shar(1), xz(1), libarchive(3), libarchive-formats(5), tar(5)
There is no current POSIX standard for the tar command; it appeared in -p1003.1-96 but was dropped from -p1003.1-2001. The options supported by this implementation were developed by surveying a number of existing tar implementations as well as the old POSIX specification for tar and the current POSIX specification for pax.
The ustar and pax interchange file formats are defined by -p1003.1-2001 for the pax command.
A tar command appeared in Seventh Edition Unix, which was released in January, 1979. There have been numerous other implementations, many of which extended the file format. John Gilmores pdtar public-domain implementation (circa November, 1987) was quite influential, and formed the basis of GNU tar. GNU tar was included as the standard system tar in
.Fx beginning with
.Fx 1.0 .
This is a complete re-implementation based on the libarchive(3) library. It was first released with
.Fx 5.4 in May, 2005.
This program follows -p1003.1-96 for the definition of the -l option. Note that GNU tar prior to version 1.15 treated -l as a synonym for the -one-file-system option.
The -C dir option may differ from historic implementations.
All archive output is written in correctly-sized blocks, even if the output is being compressed. Whether or not the last output block is padded to a full block size varies depending on the format and the output device. For tar and cpio formats, the last block of output is padded to a full block size if the output is being written to standard output or to a character or block device such as a tape drive. If the output is being written to a regular file, the last block will not be padded. Many compressors, including gzip(1) and bzip2(1), complain about the null padding when decompressing an archive created by tar, although they still extract it correctly.
The compression and decompression is implemented internally, so there may be insignificant differences between the compressed output generated by
-czf - file
and that generated by
-cf - file | gzip
The default should be to read and write archives to the standard I/O paths, but tradition (and POSIX) dictates otherwise.
The r and u modes require that the archive be uncompressed and located in a regular file on disk. Other archives can be modified using c mode with the @archive-file extension.
To archive a file called @foo or -foo you must specify it as ./@foo or ./-foo, respectively.
In create mode, a leading ./ is always removed. A leading / is stripped unless the -P option is specified.
There needs to be better support for file selection on both create and extract.
There is not yet any support for multi-volume archives or for archiving sparse files.
Converting between dissimilar archive formats (such as tar and cpio) using the @ - convention can cause hard link information to be lost. (This is a consequence of the incompatible ways that different archive formats store hardlink information.)