Tar Command Examples in Linux

Programming

The Linux “tar” stands for tape archive, and many Linux/Unix system administrators use it to deal with tape drive backups.

In Linux, the tar program is used to rip a group of files and directories into a highly compressed archive file known as a tarball or tar, gzip, or bzip.

The tar command is the most commonly used command for creating compressed archive files that can be readily transferred from one disk to another or from one machine to another.

In this article, we’ll go over how to create archive files using (tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2) compression, how to extract archive files, extract a single file, view the content of the file, verify a file, add files or directories to an existing archive file, estimate the size of a tar archive file, and more.

The main goal of this book is to offer you with a variety of tar command examples that will help you understand and master tar archive manipulation.

1. Create tar Archive File in Linux

The below example command will create 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 – Verbosely show the .tar file progress.
  3. f – File name type of the archive file.

2. Create tar.gz Archive File in Linux

To create a compressed gzip archive file we use the option as z. For example, the below command will create a compressed MyImages-14-09-12.tar.gz file for the directory /home/MyImages. (Note: tar.gz and tgz both are 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 tar.bz2 Archive File in Linux

The bz2 feature compresses and creates a file that is smaller than the gzip. Compressing and decompressing files with bz2 takes longer than with gzip, which takes less time.

Option j is used to build a highly compressed tar file. The following command will build a Phpfiles-org.tar.bz2 file for the /home/php directory.

# 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. Untar tar Archive File in Linux

Simply run the following command with option x to untar or extract a tar file (extract).
For example, in the current working directory, the command below will untar the file public html-14-09-12.tar.

Use the -C option if you want to untar in a different 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. Uncompress tar.gz Archive File in Linux

Simply use the following command to uncompress the tar.gz archive file.
If we want to untar in separate directories, we can simply use the -C option 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. Uncompress tar.bz2 Archive File in Linux

Simply use the following command to uncompress the highly compressed tar.bz2 file. The command below will untar all of the.flv files in 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 Content of tar Archive File in Linux

Simply run the following command with option t to list the contents of the tar archive file (list content).The content o f the uploadprogress.tar file will be listed using the command below.

# 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 Content tar.gz Archive File in Linux

Use the following command to list the content 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 Content tar.bz2 Archive File in Linux

To list the content of the tar.bz2 file, issue 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

To extract a single file called 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

To extract a single file tecmintbackup.xml from 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

To extract a single file called 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 Multiple files from tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2 File

To extract or untar multiple files from the tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2 archive file. For example, the below command will extract “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 Group of Files using Wildcard in Linux

To extract a group of files we use wildcard-based extracting. For example, to extract a group of all files whose pattern begins with .php from 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. Add Files or Directories to tar Archive File in Linux

To add files or directories to the existing tar archive files we use the option r (append). For example, we add 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 doesn’t have an option to add files or directories to an existing compressed tar.gz and tar.bz2 archive file. If we do try will get the following error.

# 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 Verify tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2 Archive File

To verify any tar or compressed archived file we use the option W (verify). To do this, just use the following examples of commands. (Note: You cannot do verification 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 File

To check the size of any tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2 archive file, use the following command. For example, the below command will display 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

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