pax/ustar not properly handling long pathnames

Matt Morgan minxmertzmomo at
Thu Dec 29 17:02:30 UTC 2005

On 12/28/05, Matt Morgan <minxmertzmomo at> wrote:
> man pax says that ustar format handles filenames up to 99 characters
> and pathnames (filename + directory names + slashes) up to 250
> characters. So why am I getting this message back from pax when I try
> to create a ustar-formatted archive?
> pax: File name too long for ustar
> /home/matt/.openoffice.org2.0/user/registry/data/org/openoffice/Office/UI/StartModuleWindowState.xcu
> It's 100 characters total, which would be too long for old-fashioned
> tar. But ustar should be fine with it. This is FC4, fyi.

I researched this a little. Using 'star' instead of 'pax', with the
ustar format, I don't get the error. That is, star has no problem with
the length of the filename, even though it's also using the ustar
format. That is consistent with the definition of the ustar format.

Should I conclude that this is a bug with pax and file it? Would
someone else be willing to test it?

Do people just not use ustar? I opted for it because it seemed the
most basic of the archive formats that is both a) POSIX-compliant and
b) supports longer filenames. I could try xstar, which is
near-compliant. But I work with a lot of museums, and they like
standards (they tend to think very long-term).


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