[TUHS] why does tar have the tape device hard coded into it and why is it mt1 instead of mt0

Will Senn will.senn at gmail.com
Sat Dec 12 08:52:07 AEST 2015

On 12/11/15 4:31 PM, Clem Cole wrote:
> First, the device # should be usable from the command line, i.e.  tar 
> cv0 foo
> As for mt, it was written for the tape device and in those days most 
> of us had at least one 9-track device.    I have no memory of why Ken 
> used mt1 not mt0.   Doug may know.

Thanks, that'll teach me to read the man pages more carefully even when 
the command is familiar in its modern form. Your tip about the device 
number caused me to check. Sure enough, it's in the documentation :). I 
am so impressed with the durability of the original documentation. These 
were written some 40+ years ago, and they're still amazingly useable by 
folks like me who have only worked with OSes created since the 1990's 
(of course, not entirely without help).

man tar
0,...,7   This modifier selects the drive on which the tape
                is mounted.  The default is 1.

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