Have you looked at /var/log/messages? I've found error messages written there when trying to write to a tape which showed that I needed to change the block size.

I've used DLT tapes with a variety of SCSI controllers from 4.X to 6.X, and don't remember having to change anything to use "tar cvf /dev/sa0 *".

Those were DLTIII/DLTIII+/DLT40 tape. I'm currently using AIT3 tapes in an Overland library which works very well.

Mike Squires
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