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tarball (tar archive)

Tarball is a jargon term for a tar archive - a group of files collected together as one. The term suggests a ball of tar, the sticky coal derivative used as an adherent and sealant in roofing and other construction work. Tar (for Tape ARchive) is a UNIX command that creates a single file called an archive from a number of specified files or extracts (separates) the files from such an archive. A tar archive has the file suffix .tar. The files in a tar archive are not compressed, just gathered together in one file. A popular archive handler for Windows systems, WinZip, can be used to extract the files from a tar archive. Stuffit Expander, an archive handler used for Macintosh systems, also extracts files from a tar archive.

This was last updated in September 2005

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"tar archive" is redundant. TAR = Tape ARchive, so saying "tar archive" is like saying "tape archive archive." The term "tarball" is playing off the fact that the filetype for a tape archive is tar.


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