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I'm running tar as root like this:

cd /
tar --create                    \
    --verify                    \
    --exclude-backups           \
    --exclude-caches            \
    --auto-compress             \
    --file /tmp/home.tar.gz     \
    --exclude=/home/elena/.gvfs \

tar outputs:

tar: home/elena/.gvfs: Cannot stat: Permission denied

I would expect the .gvfs[1] directory to be ignored completely. Why is GNU tar running stat over it?

As to why I'm using /home/elena/.gvfs - an absolute path - to match the .gvfs directory, it is because - to my knowledge - there is no other way to select single directories for exclusion without excluding matching subdirectories at any level as well.

I've tried putting the --exclude line after home, to take possible quirks in different versions of tar into account, but that changes nothing.

Thanks for your attention.

GNU tar version: 1.23


[1] ~/.gvfs is a way to access the Gnome Virtual File System I'm skipping it because I know it can't be accessed, and it doesn't make sense to archive it. I still wonder why tar doesn't skip it completely.

share|improve this question
What are the permissions on /home/elena/.gvfs? – MattDMo Jul 12 '13 at 14:32
@MattDMo: I have no idea: even ls -l /home/elena/.gvfs as root fails because of denied access. However, I know that .gvfs is a way to access the Gnome Virtual File System: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GVFS I'm skipping it because I know it can't be accessed, and it doesn't make sense to archive it. – Elena Jul 12 '13 at 14:57
Try running ls -al /home/elena and let us know what the entire .gvfs line says. This way, you're not trying to read the contents of .gvfs as ls -l /home/elena/.gvfs is doing. Also, can you read /home/elena/.gvfs as user elena, not root? – MattDMo Jul 12 '13 at 17:22
Run as root, permission denied again: ls: cannot access /home/elena/.gvfs: Permission denied. And the .gvfs line reads: d?????????? ? ? ? ? ? .gvfs It's the only item in the output of ls that looks weird. – Elena Jul 12 '13 at 17:51
Are those question marks? Sorry, I'm on XP (Firefox 22) and what you posted just showed up as d?????????? ? ? ? ? ? (approximately, I just typed that in...) – MattDMo Jul 12 '13 at 18:35
tar: home/elena/.gvfs: Cannot stat: Permission denied

Notice that the error message doesn't include a leading slash. Try --exclude=home/elena/.gvfs without the slash.

share|improve this answer
Thank you, but I can't. Otherwise the pattern could match subdirectories at every level, and I don't want that. – Elena Jul 12 '13 at 13:07
Then you can't exclude it. – tripleee Jul 12 '13 at 13:09
Hence tar doesn't allow for fine-grained control on what directories and files end up in an archive? – Elena Jul 12 '13 at 13:26
Not by itself, as far as I understand the documentation. The workaround is to find | grep - v stuff | xargs tar or some approximation of that. – tripleee Jul 12 '13 at 14:23
@Elena Try also adding option --anchored. Than would match the initial part of the path name even without slash. – eppesuig Jul 12 '13 at 15:26

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