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Files can be compressed in a variety of formats. Some of these can be opened by Ubuntu automatically. Others can be handled if you install extra packages.

Basic Archives


  • Many archives ( [#tar .tar],[#targz .tar.gz],[#zip .zip] ) Can easily be opened simply by using Archive Manager.

To open these formats, click on them with the right mouse button, and choose "Extract here". like this: BR attachment:extracthere.jpg

Double-clicking on them will open the Archive Manager for other tasks.BR attachment:archivemanager.jpg

Non-archive formats

These formats are not technically archives, but can be opened by Archive Manager:

Deb installer packages (.deb)

  • These are actually programs that need to be installed. Open a terminal and type sudo dpkg -i DEBNAME.deb. Warning: Installing programs from .debs can seriously damage your system.

CD Images (.iso)

Java Archives (.jar)

  • These are java programs. See ["Java"]

Firefox extensions (.xpi)

  • These are actually extensions for Mozilla Firefox. To install them, launch Firefox and choose Open File from the File menu. Choose the .xpi file and click ok. Firefox will then install the extension. Warning: Installing certain extensions may damage your Firefox profile

Archive formats

7zip (.7z)

7zip is a new type of free archive format.

Install the package p7zip from the Universe repository (AddingRepositoriesHowto).

To open these files in [#basic Archive Manager] You need to tell Ubuntu how to deal with these files. Right-click on them and choose Properties. The 4th tab is Open With. Click on it and choose the Add button. Select the program Archive Manager. BR attachment:openwith.jpg

After this, you can use these files normally from [#basic Archive manager]

Ace (.ace)

ACE archives are relatively uncommon and are extraced using the 'unace' utility

To add support for it, install unace from the universe repository (AddingRepositoriesHowto).

This cannot be used from [#basic Archive Manager] so must be used on the command line. To extract .ace files, run the following command:

unace x file.ace

Rar (.rar)

Rar is a non-free archive format created by Rarsoft. There are several versions of rar and the newest version, 3.0, is not supported by any free tools.

To add support for it, install unrar-nonfree from the multiverse repository (AddingRepositoriesHowto).

As of Hoary, if you don't have the rar package installed there is one more step to get unrar working in [#basic Archive Manager] (so you can double-click on RAR files to open them). You must create a symbolic link from rar to unrar:

sudo ln -s /usr/bin/unrar /usr/bin/rar

Password protected .rar files

These Cannot be opened in the Archive Manager.

To open a password protected Rar file, open the terminal and type unrar -e RARFILENAME.rar. It will then prompt you for the password.


GNU Tar (.tar)

The tar archive is an old archive format made for tapes which consist of files added to a single file, one after the other.

These files can be extracted using the [#basic Archive Manager]

GNU Tar GZ (.tar.gz .tgz)

This archive is a [#tar tar] archive, which has then been zipped using 'gzip' which is an open source zip utility.

These files can be extracted using [#basic Archive Manager] Anchor(tarbz2)

GNU Tar bzip2 (.tar.bz2)

This archive is a [#tar tar] archive, which has then been zipped using 'bzip2' which is an open source zip utility which results in smaller file sizes than [#targz gzip] however uses more processing power.

These files can be extracted using the [#basic Archive Manager] Anchor(zip)

Zip (.zip)

This is an older archive (and compression) format that originates with PKZip developed by Phil Katz in 1989. It has been in use with DOS and windows for many years.

These files can be extracted using the [#basic Package Manager]

Command Line Usage

Many of these utilities can be used on the command line, sometimes this is quicker or easier than using the [#basic Archive Manager]

for example to extract a tar bz2 file

Example: file.tar.bz2

tar jxvf file.tar.bz2

This will show you what it extracts, and in most cases will be in a sub directory of file

You can also make these files on the command line like so:

tar jcvf file.tar.bz2 dir1 dir2 ...

file.tar.bz2 is the name of the tar file we wish to create and dir1 dir2 are the names of the directories and/or files we wish to include in the tar.bz2 archive.

to use gzip, simply put zxvf or zxvf in place of the jxvf or jcvf in the command line

to zip and unzip, simply run



zip dir1 dir1 ...


FileCompression (last edited 2008-08-06 16:36:58 by localhost)