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Definition: tarball: n. [very common; prob. based on the "tar baby" in the Uncle Remus folk tales] An archive, created with the Unix tar(1) utility, containing myriad related files. "Here, I'll just ftp you a tarball of the whole project." Tarballs have been the standard way to ship around source-code distributions since the mid-1980s; in retrospect it seems odd that this term did not enter common usage until the late 1990s.

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Source: Jargon Dictionary / Linux Dictionary V 0.16
http://www.tldp.org/LDP/Linux-Dictionary/html/index.html
Author: Binh Nguyen linuxfilesystem(at)yahoo(dot)com(dot)au
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