Letters to the Editor
Most people prefer tar because it is a little easier to learn how to use, for most people. When cpio needs to create a directory that isn't explicitly included in the archive, it does it with 700 permissions, whereas tar uses 755. 755 is arguably more useful in most circumstances. Some people simply prefer cpio's interface (see Eric's article on page 44). find and cpio are often thought of together; in fact, SVR4 find has a ->cpio option that can be used as an action to add files to a cpio archive. I understand that some versions of tar have not properly preserved hard links, but I've just tested to make sure that GNU tar does preserve hard links correctly.
In general, most of the advantages of each archiver have been added to the other over time, so it's a matter of taste.
Eric Goebelbecker replied, in response to the second point:
“I would move the software over and soft link it myself for one reason: I did it, and know what I did. Come upgrade time, that knowledge becomes real valuable...”
I would like to commend the folks at S.u.S.E. in Germany for being generous enough to give something back to those from whom they have gained.
It is their practice to offer a free copy of their distribution to the authors of free software that they include. As the maintainer of GNU awk, I recently received my second distribution from them, and I felt that the Linux community ought to be aware of this company's fine practice.
Arnold Robbins email@example.com