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What's a tarball? - or - How do I unpack or create a .tgz or .tar.gz file?


Most Unix software on the net is distributed in the form of a tarball. This just means that all the files have been packed into a tar file, which has been compressed with gzip to save space. The file name thus ends up having extension .tar.gz. Sometimes this is shortened to .tgz.

To unpack a tarball:

tar zxvf filename

To list the files in a tarball:

tar ztvf filename

To make a new tarball fred.tar.gz from a directory fred:

tar zcvf fred.tar.gz fred


tar cvf fred.tar fred ; gzip fred.tar

If all those cvfs and zxvfs make your head spin, refer to this table, which explains what they all mean:

c create an archive
f filename the name of the archive file
t table of contents: tell me what's in an archive
v verbose: tell me what's going on
x extract from an archive
z put the archive through gzip

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