How to Create and Manage a .tar.bz2 File in Linux

The Linux operating system has transformed file archiving into a free, reputable, reliable, and secure file management process. By archiving your file(s) under a Linux operating system environment, you guarantee its integrity and security. Your files become free of compromise from both users and applications active in the system.

To create tar files on a Linux OS environment, we need to reference the usage of the tar command. In summary, the tar command can achieve the following objectives as a file archiving utility:

  • Create tar files.
  • Extract tar archives from existing/created tar files.
  • List the content of an existing/created tar archive(s).
  • Update existing/created tar archive with more files.
  • Removing files from existing/created tar archive.

When you create a tar (Tape Archive) file from the Linux command line environment, you will either result in a tar file with the extension .tar.gz or .tar.bz2. When compressing a tar file, the tool you use for the compression process determines the final tar file name.

For instance, Using GZIP compression tool results in a tar file name with the extension .tar.gz , and using the BZIP2 compression tool results in .tar.bz2 file name extension.

[ You might also like: How to Tar Specific File Types (Extensions) in a Directory ]

GZIP is faster than BZIP2 in its compression and decompression routines but BZIP2 leads to smaller compression (15% decrease in compression).

This article guide will walk us through creating and managing .tar.bz2 file archives on a Linux operating system environment.

Creating a tar.bz2 File in Linux

For this tutorial, we will need access to some reference files for archiving into a .tar.bz2 file archive.

List Files in Linux
List Files in Linux

The tar command general syntax is as follows:


From the general tar syntax reference above, to create a .tar.bz2 file archive, an ideal syntax will look like the following:

$ tar -cjf ARCHIVE_NAME.tar.bz2 [FILE_NAMES] 

The command option -c initiates the archive file creation process, -j specifies that the file archive should have a .tar.bz2b extension, and -f instructs the whole tar operation to use the device archive.

For instance, if we reference the above screen capture, the LinuxShellTips_Files directory hosts several files and folders. To archive the images directory together with the file_1.txt and file_2.txt files, our tar command will be as follows:

$ tar -cjf images_and_files.tar.bz2 /home/dnyce/LinuxShellTips_Files/images /home/dnyce/LinuxShellTips_Files/file_1.txt /home/dnyce/LinuxShellTips_Files/file_2.txt
Create Tar File in Linux
Create Tar File in Linux

To list the content present in this tar file, we will use the -t option and run:

$ tar -tf images_and_files.tar.bz2
List Tar Files in Linux
List Tar Files in Linux

For more details on the above output like file owner and file size, use -v (–verbose) option:

$ tar -tvf images_and_files.tar.bz2
List Tar File Sizes and Ownership
List Tar File Sizes and Ownership

To extract the archive file, include the -x option.

$ tar -xf images_and_files.tar.bz2

To extract the archive file to a specific directory, include the -C option and path to that directory.

$ tar -xf images_and_files.tar.bz2 -C /home/dnyce/linuxshelltips/decompressed 

To add a file to the existing tar archive, use the -r option for --append operations.

$ tar -rvf images_and_files.tar.bz2 /home/dnyce/LinuxShellTips_Files/file_3.txt
Add Files to Tar Archive
Add Files to Tar Archive

We have successfully learned how to create and manage .tar.bz2 archive files in a Linux OS environment.

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