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.

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