How to unpack tar bz2 xz gz archives in Linux

How to unpack tar bz2 xz gz archives in Linux

Cheatsheet for unpacking tar archives.

For unpacking tar-archives through a command-line utility is used tar.

It is useful to know that archives tar have the file extension .tar Also in Linux, archives are widespread that have additional compression by other programs. For example, archives .tar.bz2 , .tar.gz and others. All of these archives can be unpacked using the utility tar.

Unpacking tar

To unpack the archive in format .tar into the current directory, run the command:

tar xvf archive.tar

Unpack tar.bz2, tar.bzip2, tbz2, tb2, tbz

tar xvjf archive.tar.bz2

Packaging tar.xz, txz

tar xvJf archive.tar.xz

Unpack tar.gz, tgz

tar xvzf archive.tar.gz

Unpacking tar.lzma

tar --lzma -xvf archive.tar.lzma

Explanation of options

x – unpack the archive.
v – Verbose-mode (display additional information during unpacking).
f – unpack the archive from a file.
j – call bzip2 to unpack the archive.
z – invoke gzip
J – call xz  

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Unpacking to a specific directory

To unpack the archive into a specific directory, use the option -C or –directory, for example:

tar xvf archive.tar -C /to/directory

Note: the directory must exist.


We have covered a basic set of commands that can be used to unpack various kinds of tar archives. There are also some other types of archives, but they are less common.

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