HowTo: Unpack .tgz File On a Linux

I am a new Linux user. I am having problem with the Terminal. How do I unpack .tgz (tar.gz) file on a Linux using command line option?

Most Linux and open source software files are distributed in either .tgz or .tar.gz extensions format over the Internet. These files are gzipd tar balls and include multiple files and sub-directories into a single file using tar command. To save the bandwidth tar files are cpmpressed using gzip program.

Unpacking .tgz files command

The syntax is as follows:

tar zxvf fileNameHere.tgz

Or try the geeky bash pipe based syntax:

gunzip -c fileNameHere.tgz | tar xvf -


In this example, unpack a file called backups.tgz, enter:

tar zxvf backups.tgz


gunzip -c backups.tgz | tar xvf -

Sample outputs:

tar: Removing leading '/' from member names
x Users/vivek/Downloads/db.txt
x Users/vivek/Downloads/resume.txt
x Users/vivek/Downloads/vendors.txt
x Users/vivek/Downloads/sales.txt

To unpack and put files in a different folder (directory) say /tmp/data, enter:

tar zxvf backups.tgz -C /tmp/data
ls -l /tmp/data

tar command options

  • -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 backup.tgz : Read the archive from the specified file called backup.tgz.
  • -C /tmp/data : Unpack/extract files in /tmp/data instead of the default current directory.

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

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.


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