Linux archives

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Working with archives in linux where tar = tape archive and the most common used options are:

  • -c - create a new tar file
  • -x - extract file
  • -t - test list the contents of an archive
  • -z - compress use gzip compress, extention .tar.gz
  • -j - compress use bzip2 compress, extention .tar.bz2
  • -v - verbose displays files to compress or uncompress
  • -f - file specify the new archive name or an archive to extract from
  • -r - flag to append the additional files to the archive
  • -u - updating a file


Create a compressed .tar.gz archive

#archive a directory and everything under (recursively), the dir tree will be preserved eg. /dir/to/be/compressed/ when you extract
tar -czvf archive.tar.gz /dir/to/be/compressed/
tar -czvf archive.tar.gz /path/to/*.conf #archive only files matching *.conf

Create a compressed archive controlling directory tree structure

tar -czvf archive.tar.gz -C directory/level1/ .
# -C change current working directory
# .  archive all files from a current working directory, this way when you extract it will extract to to the current working dir

Compress each directory in current directory into separate zip

$ for i in */; do echo tar -czvf "${i%/}.tar.gz" "$i"; done #test
$ for i in */; do      tar -czvf "${i%/}.tar.gz" "$i"; done #run
$ for i in */; do rm -rf "$i"; done


Extract whole archive, use -t to test

tar -xzvf archive.tar.gz

A single file from compressed .tar.gz, use -t to test

tar -xzvf archive.tar.gz file_to_extract.log
tar  xvf  archive.tar --strip-components=1 -C anotherDirectory/ file_to_extract.log
# --strip-components=NUMBER Strip NUMBER leading components/directories from file names on extraction

A single directory (here conf directory) to specific directory (here /tmp/logs from compressed .tar.gz, use -t to test

tar -xzvf archive.tar.gz conf -C /tmp/logs

Preview files inside archive
tar -tzvf {.tar.gz}
tar -tjvf {.tbz2}

Extract multiple archives at once
for file in *.tar.gz; do tar -xzvf "$file"; done
cat *.tar.gz | tar -xzvf - -i # -i, --ignore-zeros - ignore blocks of zeros in archive (normally mean EOF)


Install zip and unzip then use interactive method:

Extract using default options, retaining directory structure, if password protected you will be prompted
Enter password: *** # <- only when password protected
Compress file or directory
zip directory/*
zip file1 file2 file3

# Encrypted password protected zip
zip --encrypt file1 file2
Enter password: ***
Verify password: ***
  adding: file (deflated 8%)

# Create an encrypted ZIP archive from a folder /var/log/
zip --encrypt -r /var/log/

Warning! The standard ZIP encryption is very weak and could be cracked easily.

Compress each directory in current directory into separate zip

$ for file in */; do echo zip -r "${file%/}.zip" "$file"; done # Test
$ for file in */; do      zip -r "${file%/}.zip" "$file"; done # Run