18 Tar command examples on Linux

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The Linux “tar”Stands for Tape Archive, that of many Linux / Unix System administrators who deal with backing up tape drives.

the tar command is used to rip a collection of files and directories into a highly compressed archive file, commonly known as a. referred to as Tarball or tar, gzip and bzip in Linux.

the tar is the most commonly used command for creating compressed archive files and can be easily moved from one hard drive to another or from machine to machine.

Examples of Linux tar commands

In this article we will cover different Examples of tar commands including the creation of archive files with (tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2).

[ You might also like: 7-Zip – Compress and Uncompress Files with High Compression Ratio ]

The main purpose of this guide is to highlight various Examples of tar commands this might be helpful for you to understand tar archive manipulation and become an expert.

1. Create a tar archive file on Linux

The following example command creates a tar Archive file tecmint-14-09-12.tar for a directory / home / tecmint in the current working directory. See the example command in action.

# tar -cvf tecmint-14-09-12.tar /home/tecmint/

/home/tecmint/
/home/tecmint/cleanfiles.sh
/home/tecmint/openvpn-2.1.4.tar.gz
/home/tecmint/tecmint-14-09-12.tar
/home/tecmint/phpmyadmin-2.11.11.3-1.el5.rf.noarch.rpm
/home/tecmint/rpmforge-release-0.5.2-2.el5.rf.i386.rpm

Let’s discuss each option used in the above command to create a tar archive file.

  1. C. – Creates a new .tar archive file.
  2. v – View the progress of the .tar file in detail.
  3. F. – File name type of the archive file.

2. Create the tar.gz archive file on Linux

How to create a compressed gzip Archive file we use the option as With. For example, the following command creates a compressed MyImages-14-09-12.tar.gz File for the directory / home / MyPictures. (Note: tar.gz and tgz are both similar).

# tar cvzf MyImages-14-09-12.tar.gz /home/MyImages
OR
# tar cvzf MyImages-14-09-12.tgz /home/MyImages

/home/MyImages/
/home/MyImages/Sara-Khan-and-model-Priyanka-Shah.jpg
/home/MyImages/RobertKristenviolent101201.jpg
/home/MyImages/Justintimerlake101125.jpg
/home/MyImages/Mileyphoto101203.jpg
/home/MyImages/JenniferRobert101130.jpg
/home/MyImages/katrinabarbiedoll231110.jpg
/home/MyImages/the-japanese-wife-press-conference.jpg
/home/MyImages/ReesewitherspoonCIA101202.jpg
/home/MyImages/yanaguptabaresf231110.jpg

3. Create the tar.bz2 archive file on Linux

the bz2 Function compresses and creates an archive file that is smaller than the size of the gzip. the bz2 Compression takes longer to compress and decompress files than gzip, which takes less time.

To create a highly compressed tar file, we will use the option J. The following example command creates a phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 File for a directory / home / php. (Note: tar.bz2 and tbz are similar to tb2).

# tar cvfj Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 /home/php
OR
# tar cvfj Phpfiles-org.tar.tbz /home/php
OR 
# tar cvfj Phpfiles-org.tar.tb2 /home/php

/home/php/
/home/php/iframe_ew.php
/home/php/videos_all.php
/home/php/rss.php
/home/php/index.php
/home/php/vendor.php
/home/php/video_title.php
/home/php/report.php
/home/php/object.html
/home/php/video.php

4. Unmask the tar archive file in Linux

To unzip or extract a tar file, just issue the following command with option. a x (extract). For example, the following command will extract the file public_html-14-09-12.tar in the current working directory.

If you want to extract to a different directory, use the as option -C (specified directory).

## Untar files in Current Directory ##
# tar -xvf public_html-14-09-12.tar

## Untar files in specified Directory ##
# tar -xvf public_html-14-09-12.tar -C /home/public_html/videos/

/home/public_html/videos/
/home/public_html/videos/views.php
/home/public_html/videos/index.php
/home/public_html/videos/logout.php
/home/public_html/videos/all_categories.php
/home/public_html/videos/feeds.xml

5. Decompress the tar.gz archive file on Linux

To unzip tar.gz Archive file, just run the command below. If we want to extract to different directories, just use the option -C and the directory path as shown in the example above.

# tar -xvf thumbnails-14-09-12.tar.gz

/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/katdeepika231110.jpg
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/katrinabarbiedoll231110.jpg
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/onceuponatime101125.jpg
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/playbutton.png
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/ReesewitherspoonCIA101202.jpg
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/snagItNarration.jpg
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/Minissha-Lamba.jpg
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/Lindsaydance101201.jpg
/home/public_html/videos/thumbnails/Mileyphoto101203.jpg

6. Decompress the tar.bz2 archive file on Linux

To decompress the heavily compressed tar.bz2 File just use the following command. The following example command unpacks them all .flv Files from the archive file.

# tar -xvf videos-14-09-12.tar.bz2

/home/public_html/videos/flv/katrinabarbiedoll231110.flv
/home/public_html/videos/flv/BrookmuellerCIA101125.flv
/home/public_html/videos/flv/dollybackinbb4101125.flv
/home/public_html/videos/flv/JenniferRobert101130.flv
/home/public_html/videos/flv/JustinAwardmovie101125.flv
/home/public_html/videos/flv/Lakme-Fashion-Week.flv
/home/public_html/videos/flv/Mileyphoto101203.flv
/home/public_html/videos/flv/Minissha-Lamba.flv

7. List the contents of the tar archive file in Linux

To list the contents of the tar archive file, simply run the following command with option. the end T (List content). The following command lists the contents of the uploadprogress.tar File.

# tar -tvf uploadprogress.tar

-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff   2276 2011-08-15 18:51:10 package2.xml
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff   7877 2011-08-15 18:51:10 uploadprogress/examples/index.php
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff   1685 2011-08-15 18:51:10 uploadprogress/examples/server.php
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff   1697 2011-08-15 18:51:10 uploadprogress/examples/info.php
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff    367 2011-08-15 18:51:10 uploadprogress/config.m4
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff    303 2011-08-15 18:51:10 uploadprogress/config.w32
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff   3563 2011-08-15 18:51:10 uploadprogress/php_uploadprogress.h
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff  15433 2011-08-15 18:51:10 uploadprogress/uploadprogress.c
-rw-r--r-- chregu/staff   1433 2011-08-15 18:51:10 package.xml

8. List the contents of the tar.gz archive file in Linux

Use the following command to view the contents of the tar.gz File.

# tar -tvf staging.tecmint.com.tar.gz

-rw-r--r-- root/root         0 2012-08-30 04:03:57 staging.tecmint.com-access_log
-rw-r--r-- root/root       587 2012-08-29 18:35:12 staging.tecmint.com-access_log.1
-rw-r--r-- root/root       156 2012-01-21 07:17:56 staging.tecmint.com-access_log.2
-rw-r--r-- root/root       156 2011-12-21 11:30:56 staging.tecmint.com-access_log.3
-rw-r--r-- root/root       156 2011-11-20 17:28:24 staging.tecmint.com-access_log.4
-rw-r--r-- root/root         0 2012-08-30 04:03:57 staging.tecmint.com-error_log
-rw-r--r-- root/root      3981 2012-08-29 18:35:12 staging.tecmint.com-error_log.1
-rw-r--r-- root/root       211 2012-01-21 07:17:56 staging.tecmint.com-error_log.2
-rw-r--r-- root/root       211 2011-12-21 11:30:56 staging.tecmint.com-error_log.3
-rw-r--r-- root/root       211 2011-11-20 17:28:24 staging.tecmint.com-error_log.4

9. List the contents of the tar.bz2 archive file in Linux

To list the contents of the tar.bz2 File, enter the following command.

# tar -tvf Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2

drwxr-xr-x root/root         0 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/
-rw-r--r-- root/root      1751 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/iframe_ew.php
-rw-r--r-- root/root     11220 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/videos_all.php
-rw-r--r-- root/root      2152 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/rss.php
-rw-r--r-- root/root      3021 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/index.php
-rw-r--r-- root/root      2554 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/vendor.php
-rw-r--r-- root/root       406 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/video_title.php
-rw-r--r-- root/root      4116 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/report.php
-rw-r--r-- root/root      1273 2012-09-15 03:06:08 /home/php/object.html

10. Untar single file from tar file in Linux

How to extract a single file named cleanfiles.sh from cleanfiles.sh.tar use the following command.

# tar -xvf cleanfiles.sh.tar cleanfiles.sh
OR
# tar --extract --file=cleanfiles.sh.tar cleanfiles.sh

cleanfiles.sh

11. Untar single file from tar.gz file in Linux

How to extract a single file tecmintbackup.xml of the tecmintbackup.tar.gz Archive file use the command as follows.

# tar -zxvf tecmintbackup.tar.gz tecmintbackup.xml
OR
# tar --extract --file=tecmintbackup.tar.gz tecmintbackup.xml

tecmintbackup.xml

12. Untar single file from tar.bz2 file in Linux

How to extract a single file named index.php from the file phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 use the following option.

# tar -jxvf Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 home/php/index.php
OR
# tar --extract --file=Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 /home/php/index.php

/home/php/index.php

13. Untar Several files from tar, tar.gz and tar.bz2 file

How to extract or unzip multiple files from the tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2 Archive file. For example, the following command extracts “File 1”“File 2“From the archive files.

# tar -xvf tecmint-14-09-12.tar "file1" "file2" 

# tar -zxvf MyImages-14-09-12.tar.gz "file1" "file2" 

# tar -jxvf Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 "file1" "file2"

14. Extract a group of files with wildcard in Linux

To extract a group of files we will use Wildcard based extract. For example, to extract a group of all files whose pattern begins with .php of a tar, tar.gz and tar.bz2 Archive file.

# tar -xvf Phpfiles-org.tar --wildcards '*.php'

# tar -zxvf Phpfiles-org.tar.gz --wildcards '*.php'

# tar -jxvf Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 --wildcards '*.php'

/home/php/iframe_ew.php
/home/php/videos_all.php
/home/php/rss.php
/home/php/index.php
/home/php/vendor.php
/home/php/video_title.php
/home/php/report.php
/home/php/video.php

15. Adding files or directories to the tar archive file in Linux

To add files or directories to the existing tar archive files, we will use the option R. (append). For example, let’s add a file xyz.txt and directory php to the existing tecmint-14-09-12.tar Archive file.

# tar -rvf tecmint-14-09-12.tar xyz.txt

# tar -rvf tecmint-14-09-12.tar php

drwxr-xr-x root/root         0 2012-09-15 02:24:21 home/tecmint/
-rw-r--r-- root/root  15740615 2012-09-15 02:23:42 home/tecmint/cleanfiles.sh
-rw-r--r-- root/root    863726 2012-09-15 02:23:41 home/tecmint/openvpn-2.1.4.tar.gz
-rw-r--r-- root/root  21063680 2012-09-15 02:24:21 home/tecmint/tecmint-14-09-12.tar
-rw-r--r-- root/root   4437600 2012-09-15 02:23:41 home/tecmint/phpmyadmin-2.11.11.3-1.el5.rf.noarch.rpm
-rw-r--r-- root/root     12680 2012-09-15 02:23:41 home/tecmint/rpmforge-release-0.5.2-2.el5.rf.i386.rpm
-rw-r--r-- root/root 0 2012-08-18 19:11:04 xyz.txt
drwxr-xr-x root/root 0 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/ 
-rw-r--r-- root/root 1751 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/iframe_ew.php 
-rw-r--r-- root/root 11220 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/videos_all.php 
-rw-r--r-- root/root 2152 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/rss.php 
-rw-r--r-- root/root 3021 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/index.php 
-rw-r--r-- root/root 2554 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/vendor.php 
-rw-r--r-- root/root 406 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/video_title.php

16. Add files or directories to tar.gz and tar.bz2 files

The tar command has no option to add files or directories to an existing compressed tar.gz and tar.bz2 Archive file. When we try, we get the following error message.

# tar -rvf MyImages-14-09-12.tar.gz xyz.txt

# tar -rvf Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 xyz.txt

tar: This does not look like a tar archive
tar: Skipping to next header
xyz.txt
tar: Error exit delayed from previous errors

17. How to check the archive files tar, tar.gz and tar.bz2

To check any tar or compressed archived file we use the option W. (to verify). Simply use the following command examples to do this. (Note: You cannot verify on a compressed ( * .tar.gz, * .tar.bz2 ) Archive file).

# tar tvfW tecmint-14-09-12.tar

tar: This does not look like a tar archive
tar: Skipping to next header
tar: Archive contains obsolescent base-64 headers
tar: VERIFY FAILURE: 30740 invalid headers detected
Verify -rw-r--r-- root/root    863726 2012-09-15 02:23:41 /home/tecmint/openvpn-2.1.4.tar.gz
Verify -rw-r--r-- root/root  21063680 2012-09-15 02:24:21 /home/tecmint/tecmint-14-09-12.tar
tar: /home/tecmint/tecmint-14-09-12.tar: Warning: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
Verify -rw-r--r-- root/root   4437600 2012-09-15 02:23:41 home/tecmint/phpmyadmin-2.11.11.3-1.el5.rf.noarch.rpm
tar: /home/tecmint/phpmyadmin-2.11.11.3-1.el5.rf.noarch.rpm: Warning: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
Verify -rw-r--r-- root/root     12680 2012-09-15 02:23:41 home/tecmint/rpmforge-release-0.5.2-2.el5.rf.i386.rpm
tar: /home/tecmint/rpmforge-release-0.5.2-2.el5.rf.i386.rpm: Warning: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
Verify -rw-r--r-- root/root         0 2012-08-18 19:11:04 xyz.txt
Verify drwxr-xr-x root/root         0 2012-09-15 03:06:08 php/

18. Check the size of the tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2 archive files

To check the size of any tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2 Archive file use the following command. For example, the following command shows the size of the archive file in kilobytes (KB).

# tar -czf - tecmint-14-09-12.tar | wc -c
12820480

# tar -czf - MyImages-14-09-12.tar.gz | wc -c
112640

# tar -czf - Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 | wc -c
20480

Tar Uses and Options

  • C. – Create an archive file.
  • x – Extract an archive file.
  • v – show the progress of the archive file.
  • F. – File name of the archive file.
  • T – View the contents of the archive file.
  • J – Filter archive through bzip2.
  • With – Filter archive through gzip.
  • R. – Append files or directories to the existing archive files or update them.
  • W. – Check an archive file.
  • placeholder – Specify patterns in the UNIX tar command.

That’s it for now, hope the above Examples of tar commands are enough for you to learn, and for more information please use the Man tar Command.

If you want to split a large tar archive file into several parts or blocks, just read this article:

  • How to split a tar file into multiple files of a certain size
  • How to load and extract tar files with one command

If we missed any examples, please let us know using the comments box and don’t forget to share this article with your friends. This is the best way to say thank you …

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