The tar program is used to create and manipulate tar
archives. An archive is a single file which contains the contents
of many files, while still identifying the names of the files, their
owner(s), and so forth. (In addition, archives record access
permissions, user and group, size in bytes, and data modification time.
Some archives also record the file names in each archived directory, as
well as other file and directory information.) You can use tar
to create a new archive in a specified directory.
The files inside an archive are called members. Within this
manual, we use the term file to refer only to files accessible in
the normal ways (by ls, cat, and so forth), and the term
member to refer only to the members of an archive. Similarly, a
file name is the name of a file, as it resides in the file system,
and a member name is the name of an archive member within the
The term extraction refers to the process of copying an archive
member (or multiple members) into a file in the file system. Extracting
all the members of an archive is often called extracting the
archive. The term unpack can also be used to refer to the
extraction of many or all the members of an archive. Extracting an
archive does not destroy the archive's structure, just as creating an
archive does not destroy the copies of the files that exist outside of
the archive. You may also list the members in a given archive
(this is often thought of as “printing” them to the standard output,
or the command line), or append members to a pre-existing archive.
All of these operations can be performed using tar.
Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License