Globbing is the operation by which wildcard characters,
‘*’ or ‘?’ for example, are replaced and expanded into all
existing files matching the given pattern. However, tar often
uses wildcard patterns for matching (or globbing) archive members instead
of actual files in the file system. Wildcard patterns are also used for
verifying volume labels of tar archives. This section has the
purpose of explaining wildcard syntax for tar.
A pattern should be written according to shell syntax, using wildcard
characters to effect globbing. Most characters in the pattern stand
for themselves in the matched string, and case is significant: ‘a’
will match only ‘a’, and not ‘A’. The character ‘?’ in the
pattern matches any single character in the matched string. The character
‘*’ in the pattern matches zero, one, or more single characters in
the matched string. The character ‘\’ says to take the following
character of the pattern literally; it is useful when one needs to
match the ‘?’, ‘*’, ‘[’ or ‘\’ characters, themselves.
The character ‘[’, up to the matching ‘]’, introduces a character
class. A character class is a list of acceptable characters
for the next single character of the matched string. For example,
‘[abcde]’ would match any of the first five letters of the alphabet.
Note that within a character class, all of the “special characters”
listed above other than ‘\’ lose their special meaning; for example,
‘[-\\[*?]]’ would match any of the characters, ‘-’, ‘\’,
‘[’, ‘*’, ‘?’, or ‘]’. (Due to parsing constraints,
the characters ‘-’ and ‘]’ must either come first or
last in a character class.)
If the first character of the class after the opening ‘[’
is ‘!’ or ‘^’, then the meaning of the class is reversed.
Rather than listing character to match, it lists those characters which
are forbidden as the next single character of the matched string.
Other characters of the class stand for themselves. The special
construction ‘[a-e]’, using an hyphen between two
letters, is meant to represent all characters between a and
Periods (‘.’) or forward slashes (‘/’) are not considered
special for wildcard matches. However, if a pattern completely matches
a directory prefix of a matched string, then it matches the full matched
string: excluding a directory also excludes all the files beneath it.
Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License