Re: [hackers] [PATCH] tar: if first argument doesn't have a leading dash, prepend one

From: Laslo Hunhold <>
Date: Mon, 18 May 2020 21:28:20 +0200

On Mon, 18 May 2020 12:18:33 -0700
Michael Forney <> wrote:

Dear Michael,

> Whether you like it or not, it's the most common usage of tar by far,
> and as far as I know, the only one that was ever standardized. You are
> not forced to use this syntax, the usage following the Utility Syntax
> Guidelines still works after this patch.

that's understandable. I was more talking more for the sake of
consistency and of course agree that you're right.

> On what basis are scripts written to the SUSv2 specification broken?

On the basis of how flags and operators work for common terminal tools.

> Because we said so? Ethan looked at a bunch of tar implementations,
> and some did not support the hyphenated options. Therefore, the most
> portable way to call tar is with the old-style options.

If we looked at other implementations for sbase all the time we'd end
up with the GNU coreutils at the end. This approach moves us, inch by
inch, closer to some inconsistent mess. However, I agree that the
"standards body" is nonexistant for tar.

> Personally, I think tar is a hopeless interface and we should
> implement pax in sbase. I started on an implementation a while ago,
> but it is unfinished. After this, we can remove this tar
> implementation, which has some known bugs and deficiencies, and
> possibly replace it with a tar compatibility interface to pax. This
> tar compatibility interface should probably support the hyphen-less
> option key, since its whole purpose is legacy compatibility.

I completely agree there. However, pax is so little-known and never
picked up pace really. It's not an argument against implementing it,
but does anybody know the reason why it is so?

With best regards

Received on Mon May 18 2020 - 21:28:20 CEST

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