What I want to do

I just want to extract a backup version of a file for analysis, /etc/net.cfg, which is in a tar.

What happens when I try

It fails, like so...

# tar -tf mytar.tar | grep net.cfg
# tar -xf mytar.tar /etc/net.cfg
tar: Removing leading `/' from absolute path names in the archive
# tar -xf mytar.tar etc/net.cfg
tar: etc/net.cfg: Not found in archive
tar: Error exit delayed from previous errors

Troubleshooting I've tried

I made a separate test.tar which contains only a "test1.txt" and "test2.txt", and if I do tar xf test.tar test1.txt it correctly extracts just the 1 file I want. So extracting the single file is working in this other case.


Am I doing something wrong? How do I extract from an absolute path like /etc/net.cfg out of the given tar file into the working directory?


Operating system: QNX

Shell: /bin/ksh

  • It looks like tar -xf mytar.tar /etc/net.cfg already extracted the file to etc/net.cfg. Can you verify this?
    – Freddy
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:23
  • @Freddy DOH! I read that as if it were telling me that I need to remove the leading '/', not that it was doing so itself. So I thought it was an error. Because of that, I didn't even bother to look! Yes, it is there!
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:36
  • Nice! Yes, absolute pathnames can be a bit confusing with tar. You may write your own answer :)
    – Freddy
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:37
  • I was just about to hit submit on a meta question asking whether this Q&A is just a waste of space that should be deleted, then I realized that would just be compounding the problem. >.< I'll just leave it for now.
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


DOH! This is embarrassing. I read tar: Removing leading '/' from absolute path names in the archive thinking it was an error telling me that I need to remove the leading '/', which is why I then did it as just etc/net.cfg.

Apparently it was not an error. It was merely informational, telling me that it was taking that action itself, and it was proceeding appropriately. And the file is there.

I did not bother to check for the file because I was under the incorrect impression it was an error and that it wasn't even worth it to type ls to check.

So there's not really a problem after all! I am not sure if I should delete this Q&A or if someone else could make the same silly mistake and benefit from this.

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