As we said before, the --create (-c) operation is one of the most
basic uses of tar, and you will use it countless times.
Eventually, you will probably want to use abbreviated (or “short”)
forms of options. A full discussion of the three different forms that
options can take appears in Styles; for now, here is what the
previous example (including the --verbose (-v) option) looks like
using short option forms:
$ tar -cvf collection.tar blues folk jazz
As you can see, the system responds the same no matter whether you use
long or short option forms.
One difference between using
short and long option forms is that, although the exact placement of
arguments following options is no more specific when using short forms,
it is easier to become confused and make a mistake when using short
forms. For example, suppose you attempted the above example in the
$ tar -cfv collection.tar blues folk jazz
In this case, tar will make an archive file called v,
containing the files blues, folk, and jazz, because
the ‘v’ is the closest “file name” to the -f option, and
is thus taken to be the chosen archive file name. tar will try
to add a file called collection.tar to the v archive file;
if the file collection.tar did not already exist, tar will
report an error indicating that this file does not exist. If the file
collection.tar does already exist (e.g., from a previous command
you may have run), then tar will add this file to the archive.
Because the -v option did not get registered, tar will not
run under ‘verbose’ mode, and will not report its progress.
The end result is that you may be quite confused about what happened,
and possibly overwrite a file. To illustrate this further, we will show
you how an example we showed previously would look using short forms.
$ tar blues --create folk --file=collection.tar jazz
is confusing as it is. When shown using short forms, however, it
becomes much more so:
$ tar blues -c folk -f collection.tar jazz
It would be very easy to put the wrong string of characters
immediately following the -f, but doing that could sacrifice
For this reason, we recommend that you pay very careful attention to
the order of options and placement of file and archive names,
especially when using short option forms. Not having the option name
written out mnemonically can affect how well you remember which option
does what, and therefore where different names have to be placed.
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