I want to write a batch script that:

  • Finds a filename
  • The filename is inside a tar archive
  • The tar archive is located in a different directory
  • The filename matches a given pattern

I want to avoid untaring, if possible, and want to store the filename in a variable.

My tar file is located in ./foo_tar, called bar.tar.gz. Inside the tar archive, I want to get the filename of the file starting with baz*, followed by some digits and an underscore (e.g. baz1234_).

So far, I know of the find command, but it does not work when trying to access a tar file. I want something like this:

filename_in_question=$(find ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz -name 'baz*')

Is there any workaround to this?

  • Does tar ztf ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz | grep 'baz' do what you need? – JigglyNaga Feb 9 '18 at 11:01
  • Yes, but it does not work when assigning it to a variable filename_in_question (I get qux.sh: 4: qux.sh: ztf: not found) – erik Feb 9 '18 at 11:16

Tar can use wildcards itself

tar tzvf ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz --wildcards '*/baz*'


$ filename_in_question=$(tar tvf test.tar --wildcards '*/received_10205861111464136.mp4')
$ echo $filename_in_question
-rwxr-xr-x ghp/ghp 1931930 2017-11-04 10:36 ./Marieanne/Messenger/received_10205861111464136.mp4
$ echo ${filename_in_question/*\//}
  • This does unfortunately not work when assigning it to a variable filename_in_question (I get qux.sh: 4: qux.sh: tzvf: not found) – erik Feb 9 '18 at 11:19
  • That is because of an error in your syntax. But I must admit, I'm a stranger to qux.sh. – Gerard H. Pille Feb 9 '18 at 11:21
  • I don't know if we made ourselves clear to you, @tli, but there is a syntax error in your qux.sh script. – Gerard H. Pille Feb 9 '18 at 12:43
  • Yes, thanks for pointing that out. Using filename_in_question=$(tar tzvf ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz --wildcards '*/baz*') makes it work. This does almost what I want. I end up getting in filename_in_question a string containing more information that just the filename, as it looks something like this: -rw-rw-r-- root/root 81 2018-02-12 10:03 foo_tar/baz1234_ How can I extract only the last part (e.g. baz1234_ in this case)? – erik Feb 12 '18 at 8:27
  • ${filename_in_question/*\//} should give you that, if your fux.sh uses a sensible shell. – Gerard H. Pille Feb 12 '18 at 8:36

find only searches files that exist in the directory hierarchy, not those stored inside archives. You can list the files with tar -t:

tar -ztf ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz --wildcards --no-anchored 'baz*'

--wildcards allows * to be interpreted as a wildcard, and --no-anchored allows the filename to match after any / (so it'll still be found if it's in a subdirectory in the archive).

Pattern-matching in tar is not as flexible as that in find. For the sort of pattern you describe, you could instead filter the complete contents through grep:

tar -ztf ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz | grep '\(^\|/\)baz[0-9]\+_'

As you want to save the result in a variable, you also need to enclose the command using Command Substitution:

filename_in_question=$(tar -ztf ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz | grep '\(^\|/\)baz[0-9]\+_')

This would still be necessary if you were using find.

  • This does unfortunately not work when assigning it to a variable filename_in_question (I get qux.sh: 4: qux.sh: -ztf: not found) – erik Feb 9 '18 at 11:20
  • That's a separate problem -- updated. – JigglyNaga Feb 9 '18 at 11:21
  • Thanks for pointing that out - your solution works, but matches more files than the ones I want to retrieve. I expanded the explanation of the specific pattern I am looking for. – erik Feb 12 '18 at 8:33
  • @tli That's easily done by tightening the grep pattern. Updated again. – JigglyNaga Feb 12 '18 at 9:55

You need a tar implementation with built-in libfind:

star -t -f ./foo_tar/bar.tar.gz -find -name 'baz*'

will work as you expect and can to a lot more.

Check the schilytools tar ball: http://sourceforge.net/projects/schilytools/files/

star is the oldest free tar implementation. See Man page:


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