Tips from an RHCE: Tar vs. Star — The battle of xattrs
In Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 4, tar could not handle the extra information stored in ext2 and ext3 file systems called Extended Attributes (EAs or xattrs). This is a potential problem for backups, because SELinux and ACLs use these Extended Attributes to store the security contexts and access control lists respectively. star shone brightly as it has options for backing up and restoring each of these attributes.
Great strides have taken place in rebuilding tar to acknowledge these Extended Attributes, and with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 comes a new tar with options for xattrs. tar now has three options for creating an archive with xattrs in mind: