A Guide to Extracting Compressed Files in Linux


Compressed files are a common way to bundle multiple files into a single archive, making it easier to transfer and store large amounts of data. In Linux, there are various compression formats such as ZIP, GZIP, TAR, and more. Extracting compressed files in Linux is a straightforward process that can be accomplished through the command line or by using graphical tools. In this guide, we will explore different methods to extract compressed files on Linux.

Using the Command Line

The command line interface (CLI) provides a powerful and efficient way to extract compressed files in Linux. Here are some commonly used commands for different compression formats:

1. ZIP Files:
To extract ZIP files, you can use the ‘unzip’ command followed by the name of the ZIP file. For example:

unzip file.zip

2. GZIP Files:
GZIP files have the extension “.gz”. To extract a GZIP file, you can use the ‘gzip’ command with the ‘-d’ flag. For example:

gzip -d file.gz

3. TAR Files:
TAR files are commonly used to bundle multiple files or directories into a single archive. To extract a TAR file, you can use the ‘tar’ command with the ‘-xvf’ flags. For example:

tar -xvf file.tar

Using Graphical Tools:

Linux also provides graphical tools that offer a user-friendly interface for extracting compressed files. Here are two popular options:

1. File Roller:
File Roller is a popular graphical archive manager that supports various compression formats. It is often pre-installed on many Linux distributions. To extract a compressed file using File Roller, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the compressed file.
  2. Select “Extract Here” or choose a specific destination to extract the files.

2. Ark:
Ark is another useful graphical tool for extracting compressed files on Linux. If it is not already installed, you can install it using your distribution’s package manager. To extract a compressed file using Ark, follow these steps:

  1. Open Ark from the applications menu.
  2. Click on “Open” and select the compressed file.
  3. Choose the destination directory and click on “Extract.”


Additional Tips

1. Preserving Permissions:
When extracting files, it’s important to preserve the permissions of the original files. Some extraction tools may not preserve the permissions by default. To ensure the permissions are maintained, you can use the ‘-p’ flag with the extraction commands. For example:

tar -xvpf file.tar

2. Handling Password-Protected Files:
If you encounter password-protected compressed files, you will need to provide the password during the extraction process. Command-line tools like ‘unzip’ and ‘tar’ provide options to enter the password when prompted. Graphical tools like File Roller and Ark usually have built-in password prompts.


Extracting compressed files in Linux can be easily accomplished through the command line or by using graphical tools. The command-line approach offers flexibility and efficiency, while graphical tools provide a user-friendly interface. By following the methods and tips outlined in this guide, you can effortlessly extract compressed files and access their contents in Linux.

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