Ubuntu Server: How to Extract a .tar.gz Archive File Tips, Tricks and Tutorials 30 OCT 2014

An old one, but for my own reference purposes, worth noting down here in these pages. In order to extract the contents of a .tar.qz archive file, turn to the tar command (“man tar” for options as per usual):

tar -xvzf archivefile.tar.gz -C /home/craig/downloads

In this example we’ve extracted the contents of archivefile.tar.gz to the /home/craig/downloads directory. (If we left out the -C directive then the operation would simply have extracted the archive contents to the working directory.)

To explain the archivefile.tar.gz file itself, essentially tar collected all the files into one package followed by a call to gzip which then compressed the tar file. (This is often referred to as a tarball in the Linux world.)

To extract the files making up this tarball, we used the following parameters in our call to tar:

x: tar can collect files or extract them. x does the latter.
v: makes tar talk a lot. Verbose output shows you all the files being extracted.
z: tells tar to decompress the archive using gzip
f: this must be the last flag of the command, and the tar file must be immediately after. It tells tar the name and path of the compressed file.

Obviously -v isn’t necessarily, but it is helpful to see what is going on. So in summary, to extract a .tar.gz file, run:

tar -xvzf [archiveFile].tar.gz



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About Craig Lotter

Software developer, husband and dad to two little girls. Writer behind An Exploring South African. I don't have time for myself any more.