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I keep a list of photos burned to dvds for incremental backups but I got into a strange situation where a file was already burned into a dvd but tar keeps saying it's not. Here the steps to reproduce:

mkdir tarbug && cd tarbug
mkdir -p photos/{1,2,3}
touch "photos/1/P06-23-08_15.21[1].jpg"
touch "photos/2/P06.jpg"
touch "photos/3/P01.jpg"

Create a list of all files (normally I append to list once a dvd is burned):

find photos -type f > list

Now give me new files excluding files in list and don't show directories:

tar cf - photos -X list | tar tf - | grep -v '/$'

Result:

photos/1/P06-23-08_15.21[1].jpg

That shouldn't show as it's in the file list. I figured out it's brackets that need to be escaped by backslash? but how I'm supposed to know that? any list of characters tar doesn't like or uses for something else?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you look at tar's manpage, you'll see:

 -X, --exclude-from FILE
       exclude patterns listed in FILE

The info doc gives further details.

So list needs to be a list of patterns, not file names. A pattern, as normal, means a shell wildcard pattern. So, at minimum, *, [], and ] are special. Possibly { and } as well.

The documentation also mentions you can change this by passing --no-wildcards. Then the names will be matched literally, not as patterns. --no-wildcards needs to go before the -X.

[This is GNU tar I checked. Other tar implementations probably differ.]

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+1 for special characters but --no-wildcards does not work on GNU tar –  abdelsaid Sep 25 '13 at 16:17
    
nm. order of argument is important, if you put --no-wildcards before -X ... it works but if you put it after -X ... it doesn't. –  abdelsaid Sep 25 '13 at 16:24
    
@abdelsaid Ah, that's important. I'll add it to the answer to make sure anyone else stumbling across this question sees it. –  derobert Sep 25 '13 at 16:25

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