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Re: [PATCH] change default --format from gnu to posix

From: Mike Frysinger
Subject: Re: [PATCH] change default --format from gnu to posix
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2021 19:43:22 -0500

On 10 Dec 2021 08:38, Michał Górny wrote:
> On Thu, 2021-12-09 at 21:40 -0500, Mike Frysinger wrote:
> > The posix standard has been released for over 20 years, and tar has
> > supported it for almost as long (at least since 2004).  The docs have
> > said the default will change in a future version for almost as long,
> > so lets finally actually switch it.
> > 
> > * NEWS: Update.
> > * configure.ac (DEFAULT_ARCHIVE_FORMAT): Change GNU to POSIX.
> > * doc/tar.texi: Update gnu & posix format sections mentioning defaults.
> > 
> This sounds like a bad idea.  The last time I checked (it was in 2018
> though [1]), GNU extensions were still more portable than PAX.

this lacks any qualitative statements such that it could possibly be considered.
* what projects/versions exactly are impacted ?
* what systems (i.e. OS/distros) exactly are impacted ?

i'll note a couple important points:
* this change has no impact on projects using automake & `make dist`.  that has
  explicit tar format control (basically always has), and its default continues
  to be v7.  although there is a discussion at updating that too.
* this change has no impact on projects using `git archive`.  git has its own
  internal implementation of tar.
* this is merely the default.  anyone who actually cares about creating tarballs
  for legacy systems is free to pass --format=gnu or whatever when creating
  things by hand.

if all you can cite are proprietary tools & systems, then frankly, that's
too bad for them.  the GNU project has never existed to prop up or promulgate
non-FOSS systems.  if a proprietary system has deficient tooling, them complain
to the company providing you with such closed source tools and restricting your
freedom.  or install GNU tar and not worry about it.

further, proprietary systems should never be used as justification for holding
back the GNU ecosystem.  i'd bet Stallman would roll in his grave at the

if anything, normally POSIX is used as the bar to help move things forward.
as i noted, POSIX formally standardized this over 20 years ago.  if the
argument is that people aren't supporting the POSIX standard and thus we
can't as well, and people are adopting what GNU tar is doing by default,
then it's circular such that we never actually change.

there should be no impact on systems using GNU tar (i.e. every Linux distro
released in the last 15+ years) as i noted above.

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