Manifest file

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In software packaging, it is common to list the contents of a distribution in a manifest file. This file simply enumerates the files which are included in the distribution, either for processing by various packaging tools, or for human consumption.

The term is borrowed from a cargo shipping procedure, where a ship manifest would list the crew and/or cargo of a vessel.

Manifests may contain additional information; for example, in a package format such as JAR (for Java) they can specify a version number and an entry point for execution.

The manifest may optionally contain a cryptographic hash or checksum of each file. By creating a cryptographic signature for such a manifest file, the entire contents of the distribution package can be validated, as altering any of the files will invalidate the checksums in the manifest file.

The manifest files usually have a .MF extension, or a .manifest extension in Windows.

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