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You can't disambiguate options with arguments from one another unless a double-dash denotes a long one and a single dash signifies a short one. -f file ...would mean the -f option with its file argument ...whereas --ffile would be a wholly different option without an argument.


This can be helpful (for tar but I think it can be extended to other programs as well): Long options are meant to be obvious and easy to remember, and their meanings are generally easier to discern than those of their corresponding short options (see below). For example: $ tar --create ...

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