Sign up ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've received a Unix software distribution as a compressed cpio file. What's the best command to extract the files?

share|improve this question

migrated from Aug 28 '09 at 1:28

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

When you did man cpio what did you see? –  S.Lott Aug 28 '09 at 0:56
I see: -i -o -p -t -B -c -C -f -F -H -M -n -v -V -W -b -r -s -S -E -A -O -l -0 -a -I -L -R -d -m -u -? --extract --create --pass-through --list --block-size= --io-size= --force-local --nonmatching --file= --format= --message= --numeric-uid-gid --quiet --rsh-command= --verbose --dot --warning= --swap --rename --swap-bytes --swap-halfwords --to-stdout --pattern-file= --only-verify-crc --append --link --absolute-filenames --no-absolute-filenames --null --reset-access-time --dereference --owner= --make-directories --preserve-modification-time --no-preserve-owner --sparse --unconditional –  Mark Harrison Aug 28 '09 at 1:01

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted
gzip -cd foo.cpio.gz | cpio -idmv
  • i : extract (input)
  • d : create directories
  • m : preserve mtime
  • v : verbose
share|improve this answer
mkdir archive
cd archive
zcat ../archive.cpio.gz | cpio -idmv --no-absolute-filenames

While this is an old question, it shows up high on Google, so I thought I might update it. I agree with the accepted answer in general, but you should add "--no-absolute-filenames" unless you are intending to overwrite important system files on your machine. Also, personally, I prefer "zcat" over "gzip -cd" or "gunzip -c".

Finally, note that you need to run cpio as root (e.g. sudo) if you are extracting a root filesystem that contains device nodes.

share|improve this answer

This Wikipedia page on cpio has some good notes.
For more details, refer to the cpio manual.

A link from the same Wikipedia page discusses comparison with tar archives.
And, here is an example of using cpio with the tar format.

share|improve this answer

take a look here


share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.