Hear how to pronounce "ess-star"...

2012 we celebrate an anniversary: In August 30 2012, star turned 30.

Star's project page on SourceForge

Get star on SourceForge.

The latest stable release is here.


star manpages
star archive format manpage
Hints for ACL backup with star
The star mailinglists

Warning: star-1.5a28 and later may create 'global' POSIX.1-2001 extended headers.
star-1.5a25 and earlier have a bug and will go into an endless loop if you try to read archives with global extended headers.


Star development started in 1982, the first complete implementation has been done in 1985. I never did my backups with other tools than star.

Its main advantages over other tar implementations are:

  • built-in "find"
    star is built on top of libfind and thus allows you to execute
    "find" like expressions in create, extract and list mode.
    This allows to do a lot of interesting things that could not be
    done if star and find would be called separatedly.

  • fifo
    keeps the tape streaming. This gives you at least 30% faster backups than
    you can achieve with ufsdump.

  • remote tape support
    a fast RMT implementation that has no probems to saturate a 100 Mb/s network.

  • accurate sparse files
    star is able to reproduce holes in sparse files accurately if the OS includes
    the needed support functions. This is currently true for Solaris-2.3 to
    Solaris-2.5.1 and for Solaris-10 or newer

  • pattern matcher
    for a convenient user interface (see manual page for more details).
    To archive/extract a subset of files.

  • sophisticated diff
    user tailorable interface for comparing tar archives against file trees
    This is one of the most interesting parts of the star implementation.

  • no namelen limitation
    Pathnames up to 1024 Bytes may be archived. (The same limitation applies to linknames)
    This limit may be expanded in future without changing the method to record long names.

  • deals with all 3 times
    stores/restores all 3 times of a file (even creation time)
    With POSIX.1-2001 the times are in nanosecond granularity.
    Star may reset access time after doing backup. On Solaris this can be done without
    changing the ctime.

  • does not clobber files
    more recent copies on disk will not be clobbered from tape
    This may be the main advantage over other tar implementations. This allows
    automatically repairing of corruptions after a crash & fsck (Check for differences
    after doing this with the diff option).

  • automatic byte swap
    star automatically detects swapped archives and transparently reads them the right way

  • automatic format detect
    star automatically detects several common archive formats and adopts to them.
    Supported archive types are: Old tar, gnu tar, ansi tar, star,
    POSIX.1-2001 PAX, Sun's Solaris tar, cpio.

  • automatic compression detect
    star automatically detects whether the archive is compressed. If it has been compressed
    with a compression program that is compatible to decompression with "gzip", "bzip2",
    "lzop" or "p7zip", star automatically activates decompression.

  • fully ansi compatible
    Star is fully ANSI/Posix 1003.1 compatible. See README.otherbugs for a complete description
    of bugs found in other tar implementations. Star is the first tar implementation that
    supports POSIX.1-2001.

  • support for ACLs and file flags
    star supports Access Control Lists and extened file flags (as found on FreeBSD
    and Linux). Support to archive and restore other file properties may easily added.

  • support for all inode metadata
    star supports to put all inode metadata on the archive. This allows
    star to perform true incremental dumps.

  • sophisticated error control
    allows to tell star which error types should be ignored for wich file name pattern.
    This allows to write backup scripts that give no error messages for all problems that
    are tolerable (e.g. growing log files).

  • 'ed' like pattern substitutuions
    star supports automated pattern rule based file name substitution as documented for 'pax'.

  • fast built in -copy mode
    allows to make fast and accurate copies and directory tree comparisons.

    star supports automated pattern rule based file name substitution as documented for 'pax'.

  • True incremental dump/restore features
    star is the first TAR based backup system
    that has been verified to handle typical file system changes correctly.

    Star uses the same method as ufsdump/ufsrestore but acts OS and FS indeependent.

  • My testscripts for POSIX tar compliance.


    The zwicky test a backup testsuite from Elizabeth D. Zwicky.
    The Backup torture test documentation from Elizabeth D. Zwicky.
    The Zwicky web page is available here. It's a backup made by archive.org on June 22, 2001, as the original web page is no longer available.


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