I did something wrong in a previous blog entry that led me to use the
pax command to create a large backup/archive. There’s nothing wrong with using
pax — other than the fact that it’s not available for Cygwin — and I really needed to created a huge archive.
What wasn’t working
In my earlier blog post I stated that something like this did not work for me when trying to create a large backup using
find . -type f -name "*.java" | xargs tar cvf myfile.tar
What was happening was that as
xargs was managing the input to the tar command, tar kept re-writing the archive. That is, each time
xargs passed a new block of input files to
tar perceived it as a new command, and went on to re-create the file named myfile.tar. So, instead of the huge myfile.tar that I expected, I ended up with only a few files in the archive.
This problem is easily remedied if you use the
-r argument with tar instead of the
-c argument. The
-r option tells
tar to append to the archive, while
-c says “create.”
Given that background, I can say that this command worked just fine for me to create a very large tar archive:
find . -type f -name "*.java" | xargs tar rvf myfile.tar
This combination of
xargs worked like a champ for me.
I originally wrote this article in 2004 for Cygwin (wow!), and I just tried this approach again by accident in 2019 on MacOS, and I noticed that the
-c option worked on a little 20K tar/gzip archive. So without researching it any more, I’ll guess that either (a) the
-c option works okay on small archives, or (b) the problem I had in 2004 was specific to Cygwin.
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