HowTo: Open a Tar.gz File In Linux / Unix

by on May 5, 2012 · 5 comments· LAST UPDATED November 18, 2013

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I've received a file called date.tar.gz. How do I open/extract/unpack a tar.gz file on Linux or Unix like operating systems using shell prompt?

A .tar.gz (also .tgz) file is nothing but an archive. It is a file that acts as a container for other files. An archive can contain many files, folders, and subfolders, usually in compressed form using gzip or bzip2 program on Unix like operating systems.
Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesNo
Requirementstar
Estimated completion time2m

Say hi to tar command line tool

You need to use the tar command which can create and manipulate archive files in .tar.gz under Unix like operating systems. Open a command-line terminal (select Applications > Accessories > Terminal), and then type the following to open and extract a .tar.gz file:

 
tar -zxvf data.tar.gz
 

Where,

  • -z : Uncompress the resulting archive with gzip command.
  • -x : Extract to disk from the archive.
  • -v : Produce verbose output i.e. show progress and file names while extracting files.
  • -f data.tar.gz : Read the archive from the specified file called data.tar.gz.

By defaults files will be extracted into the current directory. To change the directory use -C option. In this example, extract files in /data/projects directory:

 
tar -zxvf data.tar.gz -C /data/projects
 

To view a detailed table of contents (list all files) for this archive, enter:

 
tar -tzvf data.tar.gz
 

Sample outputs:

-rw-r--r-- root/root      2981 2012-01-11 03:24 etc/adduser.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      6302 2012-01-11 04:46 etc/ca-certificates.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      2969 2011-01-31 00:14 etc/debconf.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       600 2010-11-22 02:46 etc/deluser.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       346 2010-12-05 20:23 etc/discover-modprobe.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      8661 2011-12-31 21:45 etc/ffserver.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      2940 2011-01-24 00:26 etc/gai.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       899 2009-08-31 12:51 etc/gssapi_mech.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      4794 2010-09-30 17:44 etc/hdparm.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root         9 2006-08-07 22:44 etc/host.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       145 2010-08-26 08:09 etc/idmapd.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       882 2010-05-07 15:33 etc/insserv.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root     31393 2007-10-21 13:50 etc/jwhois.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       144 2012-01-11 04:55 etc/kernel-img.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      1180 2009-04-24 02:55 etc/kerneloops.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root        34 2012-01-11 03:23 etc/ld.so.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      3587 2010-04-10 03:54 etc/lftp.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root        26 2010-08-14 20:40 etc/libao.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       191 2010-06-18 19:54 etc/libaudit.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       599 2009-02-19 17:27 etc/logrotate.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root     15752 2009-07-25 20:43 etc/ltrace.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       801 2011-06-20 08:24 etc/mke2fs.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       624 2010-02-15 10:09 etc/mtools.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       513 2012-01-11 04:53 etc/nsswitch.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       552 2010-10-19 22:22 etc/pam.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      7649 2012-01-11 04:53 etc/pnm2ppa.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      2724 2010-08-08 01:33 etc/reportbug.conf
-rwxr-xr-x root/root       332 2012-05-05 14:14 etc/resolv.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      2573 2012-04-06 00:00 etc/rsyslog.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      8596 2010-05-26 23:02 etc/sensors3.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      7093 2010-12-26 17:23 etc/smartd.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      2089 2012-02-26 03:35 etc/sysctl.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       645 2009-03-25 16:35 etc/ts.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root      1260 2008-05-30 11:52 etc/ucf.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       274 2009-11-04 03:46 etc/updatedb.conf
-rw-r--r-- root/root       571 2010-11-11 20:13 etc/usb_modeswitch.conf

file-roller: GUI tool

You can use the Archive Manager GUI application to create, view, modify, or unpack an archive. You can start Archive Manager by clicking on
Applications menu > Choose Accessories > Archive Manager

Linux / Unix GUI Open a .tar.gz With Archive Manager

Fig.01: Gnome Archive Manager


To open an archive:

  1. Choose File.
  2. Open to display the Open dialog.
  3. Select the archive that you want to open.
  4. Click Open.

Linux: Open Files With an Archive Manager

Fig.02: Linux: Open Files With an Archive Manager


Once opened you can view or extract files. To select all files in an archive, choose Edit > Select All or press Ctrl+A. To extract files from an open archive:
Select the files that you want to extract.

  1. Choose Archive > Extract to display the Extract dialog. Alternatively click Extract in the toolbar.
  2. Select the folder where Archive Manager extracts the files.
  3. Click Extract.
Linux GUI Extract Files From an Archive - data.tar.gz

Fig.03: Linux GUI Extract Files From an Archive - data.tar.gz

See tar(1) command man page for more information.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 fishcooker June 17, 2012 at 12:55 am

can i access n edit the complicated structured tar files

Reply

2 peer June 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Get the Midnight commander:

sudo apt-get install mc

Reply

3 Jako December 3, 2013 at 6:05 am

Thank you very much its super very effective

Reply

4 Steve July 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Yawn. This is why linux after all these years is a waste of space. In 10 years you still haven’t managed to create a double click installer. Common fanboys hit me with your arrogant linux attitude. I don’t want to hear your explanations no one wants tar files no one wants to use a terminal and until you have a double click install with zip, rar and 7z support i will always call linux rubbish. see yah.

Reply

5 Brett Morgen July 21, 2014 at 6:35 pm

You are dumber than Ted Kennedy the night he crashed his car and brutally shred apart and killed his date. Keep voting Democrat.

Reply

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