Thursday, December 11, 2008


Tar, (short for tape archiver), is a versital tool that can be used for archiving files to disk or any other device as easily as tape. In fact, if you don't work in a data center, you will probably never use tar with a tape drive.

Often, Unix/BSD/Linux files and source code are distributed in a zipped tar file, sometimes called a tarball. Extensions for tarballs are usually .tgz or .tar.gz (gz because it was compressed using gzip, the free GNU zip program). Rarely, you may run across a tar file that is not compressed and has an extension of simply .tar.

Here are some common uses for tar. If you pass a directory or a wildcard to tar, it will include all subdirectories in the tar file by default.

Create a gzipped tar archive
tar czvf backup.tgz files-to-backup

Create a gzipped tar archive, preserving file permissions
tar czvpf backup.tgz files-to-backup

Extract a gzipped tar archive
tar xzvf backup.tgz files-to-backup

Create a bzipped tar archive (using bzip compression instead of gzip)
tar cjvf backup.bz2 files-to-backup

Extract a bzipped tar archive
tar xjvf backup.bz2 files-to-backup

List files in a tar archive without extracing
tar tf backup.tgz

List files in a zipped tar archive without extracing
tar tzf backup.tgz