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sha1sum command is use to check or print SHA1 (160-bit) checksums. For example purpose you will use my favorite Linux chat client called zinc, visit zinc web site to download chat client, note down sha1 key listed next to download file.

1) Use wget to download zinc
$ wget http://larvalstage.com/zinc/files/zinc-1.1rc2.tar.gz

2) Verify integrity of the tar balls with sha1sum
$ sha1sum zinc-1.1rc2.tar.gz
b78b915c787e9deb3a9a5199785e4b3607092536 zinc-1.1rc2.tar.gz

Compare key b78b915c787e9deb3a9a5199785e4b3607092536 with key listed online.

Read more of the Howto: Verify integrity of the tar balls or source code