Actually, tar _is_ doing funnies with /dev/null. Changelog says:
1995-12-21 François Pinard <email@example.com>
* buffer.c: Rename a few err variables to status.
* extract.c: Rename a few check variables to status.
Corrections to speed-up the sizeing pass in Amanda:
* tar.h: Declare dev_null_output.
* buffer.c (open_archive): Detect when archive is /dev/null.
(flush_write): Avoid writing to /dev/null.
* create.c (dump_file): Do not open file if archive is being
written to /dev/null, nor read file nor restore times.
Reported by Greg Maples and Tor Lillqvist.
One wonders why.
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