Tar – Tricks and Tips

Task: List the contents of a tar file

Use the following command:
$ tar -tvf file.tar

Task: List the contents of a tar.gz file

Use the following command:
$ tar -ztvf file.tar.gz

Task: List the contents of a tar.bz2 file

Use the following command:
$ tar -jtvf file.tar.bz2

Where,

  • t: List the contents of an archive
  • v: Verbosely list files processed (display detailed information)
  • z: Filter the archive through gzip so that we can open compressed (decompress) .gz tar file
  • j: Filter archive through bzip2, use to decompress .bz2 files.
  • f filename: Use archive file called filename

Extracting Specific Files

Extract a file called etc/default/sysstat from config.tar.gz tarball:
$ tar -ztvf config.tar.gz
$ tar -zxvf config.tar.gz etc/default/sysstat
$ tar -xvf {tarball.tar} {path/to/file}

Some people prefers following syntax:
tar --extract --file={tarball.tar} {file}
Extract a directory called css from cbz.tar:
$ tar --extract --file=cbz.tar css

Wildcard based extracting

You can also extract those files that match a specific globbing pattern (wildcards). For example, to extract from cbz.tar all files that begin with pic, no matter their directory prefix, you could type:
$ tar -xf cbz.tar --wildcards --no-anchored 'pic*'
To extract all php files, enter:
$ tar -xf cbz.tar --wildcards --no-anchored '*.php'

Where,

  • -x: instructs tar to extract files.
  • -f: specifies filename / tarball name.
  • -v: Verbose (show progress while extracting files).
  • -j : filter archive through bzip2, use to decompress .bz2 files.
  • -z: filter archive through gzip, use to decompress .gz files.
  • –wildcards: instructs tar to treat command line arguments as globbing patterns.
  • –no-anchored: informs it that the patterns apply to member names after any / delimiter.

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