pax [options] [patterns]

Portable Archive Exchange program. When members of the first POSIX 1003.2 working group could not standardize on either tar or cpio, they invented this program.[*] (See also cpio and tar.)

GNU/Linux and Mac OS X use almost identical versions of pax, developed by the OpenBSD team, based on the original freely available version by Keith Muller.

pax operates in four modes, depending on the combinations of -r and -w:

List mode

No -r and no -w. List the contents of a pax archive. Optionally, restrict the output to filenames and/or directories that match a given pattern.

Extract mode

-r only. Extract files from a pax archive. Intermediate directories are created as needed.

Archive mode

-w only. Archive files to a new or existing pax archive. The archive is written to standard output; it may be redirected to an appropriate tape device if needed for backups.

Pass-through mode

-r and -w. Copy a directory tree from one location to another, analogous to cpio -p.

Common Options

Here are the options available in the four modes:

    None:       c d f           n     s     v
    -r:         c d f   i k     n o p s   u v
    -w:     a b   d f H i     L   o   s t u v x X
    -rw:          d   H i k l   n   p s t u v   X

Append files to the archive. This may not work on some tape devices.

-b size

Use size as the blocksize, in bytes, of blocks to be written to the archive.


Complement. Match all file or archive members that do not match the patterns.


For files or archive members that are directories, extract or archive only the directory ...

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