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cpio is a binary file archiver and a file format. The cpio software utility was meant as a tape archiver that was originally part of PWB/UNIX, and was also part of UNIX System III and UNIX System V. However, the use of its Research Unix counterpart, tar, and the freely available versions thereof, are widely considered to be a better solution. cpio's use by the RPM Package Manager, the Linux kernel 2.6 series' initramfs, and Apple's "pax" Installer packages continues to make cpio an important archive format.

cpio archive

A cpio archive is a stream of files and directories in a single archive, and often ends with a <code>.cpio</code> file extension. The archive has header information that allows for an application such as the GNU cpio tool to extract the files and directories into a file system. The header of a cpio archive also contains information such as the file name, time stamp, owner and permissions.

The cpio archive is similar in function to that of a tar archive, and was designed to store backups onto a tape device in a contiguous manner. Like the tar format, cpio archives are often compressed using gzip and distributed as <code>.cpgz</code> (or <code>.cpio.gz</code>) files.

Oracle distributes a large amount of its software in the cpio format.

POSIX and cpio

The cpio...
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