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It seems one cannot mount a tar file (read only), similarly as one mounts an ISO image file. At least, I have not found any implementation.

It would be useful, for example to run a find command inside.

Is this really (or practically) impossible to implement? Why?

UPDATE By accepted answered, this is indeed possible, though a program (not included in present distributions) must be instaled. It worked for me. I copy the installation and use steps in my scenario (Fedora 12).

  # yum install fuse fuse-libs fuse-devel 
  # yum install libarchive libarchive-devel
  # cd /tmp && wget
  # tar xzf archivemount-0.6.0.tar.gz && cd archivemount-0.6.0
  # ./configure && make && make install
  # man archivemount
  #  archivemount -o ro /tmp/mytar.tgz /mnt/tt
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tar -tf yourfile.tar | grep 'pattern' – Javier May 4 '10 at 14:42
Not exactly an answer but you could use tar -tvf somefile.tar | grep something. voted up for beating me to it. :) – egorgry May 4 '10 at 14:42
I know that, but find lets you specify a lot of criteria and logic (sizes, timestamps), tar+grep falls a little short. – leonbloy May 4 '10 at 14:46
you could pipe to find and get creative. – egorgry May 4 '10 at 14:56
I love playing with pipes and command lines, but that doesnt apply here. 'find' is not fed from stdin but from som path in some filesystem – leonbloy May 4 '10 at 15:14
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Traditionally, no it's not possible.

However, you can do so using the FUSE filesystem archivemount under Linux.

IMNSHO this is a bit of a novelty and not usually necessary, but I can see a few edge cases for it.

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One of possible use cases is mine - I'd like to be able to mount archives on remote server, to be able to perform incremental backups to them by rsync. Not sure if it will work fast. – Shaman Mar 19 '12 at 11:47

The package is available in Ubuntu 11.10, alas broken.

One can install it via this workaround:

mkdir -p ~/src
cd ~/src

sudo aptitude install build-essential devscripts debian-archive-keyring libfuse-dev libarchive-dev
apt-get source archivemount
gpg --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/debian-archive-keyring.gpg --verify *dsc

cd archivemount-0.6.1
cat << EOF | patch -p0
--- debian/control
+++ debian/control
@@ -8,7 +8,7 @@

 Package: archivemount
 Architecture: linux-any
-Depends: \${shlibs:Depends}, \${misc:Depends}, fuse (>=2.8.5-2)
+Depends: \${shlibs:Depends}, \${misc:Depends}, fuse-utils (>=2.8.4-1.4ubuntu1)
 Description: mounts an archive for access as a file system
  archivemount is a FUSE based file system for Unix variants, including Linux.
  Its purpose is to mount archives to a mount point where it can be read from
dch --nmu 'Depend on fuse-utils instead of fuse on Oneiric Ocelot.'

cd ..
sudo dpkg -i archivemount_0.6.1-2.1_amd64.deb

The last step did not work for me, so I

cd archivemount-0.6.1./
configure && make && sudo make install


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