How to Download and Extract Tar Files with One Command

Tar (Tape Archive) is a popular file archiving format in Linux. It can be used together with gzip (tar.gz) or bzip2 (tar.bz2) for compression. It is the most widely used command line utility to create compressed archive files (packages, source code, databases and so much more) that can be transferred easily from machine to another or over a network.

In this article, we will show you how to download tar archives using two well known command line downloaders – wget or cURL and extract them with one single command.

How to Download and Extract File Using Wget Command

The example below shows how to download, unpack the latest GeoLite2 Country databases (use by the GeoIP Nginx module) in the current directory.

# wget -c http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz -O - | tar -xz
Download and Extract File with Wget

Download and Extract File with Wget

The wget option -O specifies a file to which the documents is written, and here we use -, meaning it will written to standard output and piped to tar and the tar flag -x enables extraction of archive files and -z decompresses, compressed archive files created by gzip.

To extract tar files to specific directory, /etc/nginx/ in this case, include use the -C flag as follows.

Note: If the extracting directories to a file that requires root permissions, use the sudo command to run tar.

$ sudo wget -c http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz -O - | sudo tar -xz -C /etc/nginx/
Download and Extract File to Directory

Download and Extract File to Directory

Alternatively, you can use the following command, here, the archive file will be downloaded on your system before you can extract it.

$ sudo wget -c http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz && tar -xzf  GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz

To extract compressed archive file to a specific directory, use the following command.

$ sudo wget -c http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz && sudo tar -xzf  GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz -C /etc/nginx/

How to Download and Extract File Using cURL Command

Considering the previous example, this is how you can use cURL to download and unpack archives in the current working directory.

$ sudo curl http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz | tar -xz 
Download and Extract File with cURL

Download and Extract File with cURL

To extract file to different directory while downloading, use the following command.

$ sudo curl http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz | sudo tar -xz  -C /etc/nginx/
OR
$ sudo curl http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz && sudo tar -xzf GeoLite2-Country.tar.gz -C /etc/nginx/

That’s all! In this short but useful guide, we showed you how to download and extract archive files in one single command. If you have any queries, use the comment section below to reach us.