RFC: alias tar="tar --backup" ?

Micah Cowan micahcowan at ubuntu.com
Fri May 18 03:19:24 UTC 2007

Scott Kitterman wrote:
> On Thursday 17 May 2007 18:18, Micah Cowan wrote:
>> A user, timothy, describing his difficulties at:
>> https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/113154
>> describes his frustration as a new user, in discovering the hard way
>> that tar's default is to overwrite existing files, causing him to lose
>> important data.
>> While I'm opposed to fixing the problem in tar itself, as traditional
>> usage frequently relies upon this behavior, I don't see why we couldn't
>> make the experience of using tar interactively a little safer, by
>> providing a default alias for tar in /etc/skel/.bashrc that backs-up
>> existing files.
>> Comments?
> The right status for the bug is rejected.  System is working as designed.  
> What you might do though is point the bug author (and maybe work with him 
> jointly since you've expressed an interest) in developing a spec to describe 
> system changes to reduce the risk of accidental data loss by new users.
> That's, I think, the right way to deal with this type of design issue.  Also 
> it gives them a chance to be involved in the discussion and the community and 
> feel valued.  It still might add up to nothing different than RTFM, but 
> they'll feel different about it and who knows what the result will be.

Yes, you're probably right.

Although, "working as designed" doesn't always mean that the design
isn't flawed... in this case, the bug is specifically calling the design
into question. But yeah, this is probably the best approach. Thanks, Scott.

Micah J. Cowan
Programmer, musician, typesetting enthusiast, gamer...

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