Tag Archives: tar


how to install tar.gz or tar.bz2 files/packages in ubuntu

If you’ve been using Ubuntu for a while then you might noticed that ‘all applications do not come with a native debian package (installer.deb), in that case you will have to install the application from the archive or the source code itself’. Installing packages from source code is not so difficult, in fact it’s quite easy; all you need is some build tools (e.g make) and what ? nothing.. just relax (Oh! you should at least know how to execute commands in terminal, if you don’t, then – Learn basic Linux Commands from Google Code University (it’s free and openly available for all) and come back here to begin).

In this article you are going to learn about installing applications from tar.gz or tar.bz2 packages (commonly called as tarball), in few simple steps, on Ubuntu [11.04/11.10/10.10/10.04…] (Although it should also work on other Linux distributions such as Linux Mint, Fedora, OpenSuse, Debian, CentOS etc with little or no change). Before moving to the actual steps first let me explain you little about tar files. tar (name comes from tape archive) is a file format as well as the name of program which handles compression/decompression of those formats. GNU tar is the default application in most of the Linux based operating systems including Ubuntu. Tar is typically used with some compression/decompression software such as gzip or bzip2.tar.gz

tar.gz is the most commonly used archive format for distributing source code for open source softwares, tar.bz2 archive is also used in the same way (Firefox uses bz2 format). How the packages will be installed it varies according to the application but a common/generic steps would include –

Installing tar.gz/tar.bz2 packages in Ubuntu

step #1 : After you got the source code, extract it, using following commands (it will extract it in the same directory)

for tar.gz type :

tar -xvzf source_code.tar.gz

for tar.bz2 type :

tar -jxvf source_code.tar.bz2

step #2 : Move to the directory, Read the readme file to go further (if necessary). Some applications may have installation script such as install.sh or something like that, you just need to execute that script using

cd source_code


command. If it’s the source code then you may need to first configure it by using the command –


step #3 : Now use a build automation tools such as make to create executable from the source code; it scans makefiles to get instruction on how to derive target file.


step #4 : Now install the application using the command (followed by your login password) –

sudo make install

Recommended Reading(s)

  • GNU Tar – Official website contains more details about the tar although you can also use tar --help command from your terminal for quick help.
  • Make – Wikipedia page explains about the build automation tools make.