I'd like to download, and extract an archive under a given directory. Here is how I've been doing it so far:

wget http://downloads.mysql.com/source/dbt2-
tar zxf dbt2-
mv dbt2- dbt2

I'd like instead to download and extract the archive on the fly, without having the tar.gz written to the disk. I think this is possible by piping the output of wget to tar, and giving tar a target, but in practice I don't know how to put the pieces together.

6 Answers 6


You can do it by telling wget to output its payload to stdout (with the flag -O-) and suppress its own output (with the flag -q):

wget -qO- your_link_here | tar xvz

To specify a target directory:

wget -qO- your_link_here | tar xvz -C /target/directory

If you happen to have GNU tar, you can also rename the output dir:

wget -qO- your_link_here | tar --transform 's/^dbt2-' -xvz
  • To specified path should be: wget -qO- your_link_here | tar xvz - -C /target/directory
    – Marslo
    Sep 12, 2018 at 12:10
  • maybe just tell people to use tar instead wget then? May 19, 2019 at 4:29
  • 4
    wget -qO- <url> | tar -xvz -C <target folder> worked on gnu tar. Jun 22, 2019 at 14:22
  • will this require less than double the space of the archive on my disk? right now I'm having to unpack a huge tar and I'm looking for a way to optimize the operation space-wise
    – doplumi
    Jun 17, 2021 at 17:28
  • 1
    You don’t have to specify the stdin -. Jun 22, 2021 at 10:08

Another option is to use curl which writes to stdout by default:

curl -s -L https://example.com/archive.tar.gz | tar xvz - -C /tmp
  • 3
    I like your option more than others but curl -s some_url | tar xvz - -C /tmp
    – FiftiN
    Mar 18, 2019 at 17:44
  • 3
    as FiftiN suggested -> e.g. to view a filtered list of files inside repository one could use: $ curl -L https://api.github.com/repos/repo_owner/repo_name/tarball | tar tvfz - -C /tmp --wildcards *.py Apr 24, 2019 at 9:45
  • 7
    Better curl with "-L" to follow redirects
    – rfmoz
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:37
  • works by default on a Mac too
    – ElFik
    May 11, 2021 at 22:03

This oneliner does the trick:

tar xvzf -C /tmp/ < <(wget -q -O - http://foo.com/myfile.tar.gz)

short explanation: the right side in the parenthesis is executed first (-q tells wget to do it quietly, -O - is used to write the output to stdout).

Then we create a named pipe using the process substitution operator from Bash <( to create a named pipe. This way we create a temporary file descriptor and then direct the contents of that descriptor to tar using the < file redirection operator.

  • This would need -f - (for stdin) or -f <(wget... to work. Nov 20, 2019 at 17:33

Named pipe with stdin solution and really mind the flags for tar's -xvz

tar -xvz -C /tmp/ -f <(wget -q -O - https://github.com/user/repo/release/download/v/v.tar.gz)

One liner that handles redirects and can extract tar.bz2 files. Use xzfor extracting gzip files.

curl -L https://downloads.getmonero.org/cli/linux64 | tar xj

The extraction part should take input from STDOUT. We may need tar -xzvf - -C <output_dir>


# this may not work
# It might complain 
# tar (child): -C: Cannot open: No such file or directory
wget -qO - https://dlcdn.apache.org/spark/spark-3.3.0/spark-3.3.0-bin-hadoop3-scala2.13.tgz | tar -xzvf -C /opt/spark --strip-component 1

# this should work. 
wget -qO - https://dlcdn.apache.org/spark/spark-3.3.0/spark-3.3.0-bin-hadoop3-scala2.13.tgz | tar -xzvf - -C /opt/spark --strip-component 1

  • How would one go about this using the wget -N flag? So only do this if the downloaded file has changed? I would imagine I would need to save the existing file for that?
    – fred
    Feb 13 at 21:43

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