I am reading an offline document of bzip2 and I am told that I can compress multiple files into one single archive using bzip2 like this:

bzip2 finalArchive.bz2 file1 file2 file2

But when I try this I get

Can't open input file finalArchive.bz2: No such file or directory.

and I'm getting those 3 files compressed individually as file1.gz2 file2.gz2 and file3.gz2 and I also know that I could cat them into one single file but I want to be ab;e to do that using one single command.

I am able to do just that using zip:

zip finalArchive.zip file1 file2 file3

and I'm getting the expected finalArchive.zip file

4 Answers 4


Both bzip2 and gzip work on a single file. When that file is compressed, the uncompressed version is removed. When extracting, the opposite takes place.

To put multiple files into a bzip2 archive, first use tar to get them into one file, then compress that one file. Or since tar is "zip aware" you can use the -j flag to use bzip2 compression when you create the tar archive all as one step.

  • 1
    So you are saying that there is no such thing as this command: bzip2 finalArchive.bz2 file1 file2 file3?
    – Cat Hariss
    Jan 22, 2018 at 0:19

The most common Unix compression utilities (gzip, bzip2, xz) all operate on single files, and the standard way to make a multi-file archive is to combine them with tar.

You get the Can't open input file finalArchive.bz2: No such file or directory. error because bzip2 thinks you want to compress a file called finalArchive.bz2, which of course doesn't exist.

To accomplish what you want, use this command:

tar -cjf finalArchive.tar.bz2 file1 file2 file3

where the j option tells tar to use bzip2 to compress the tar archive. See the relevant section in the tar manual for more about this.

If you are using a very old version of tar without compression support, you would need do the compression step manually:

tar -cf - file1 file2 file3 | bzip2 -c > finalArchive.tar.bz2

Either bzip2 and gzip use file concatenation. That means bzip2 files will result in files.bz2. It's possible to concatenate multiple files like:

bzip2 -c file1 > files.bz2
bzip2 -c file2 >> files.bz2

However this is almost the same of doing cat file1 file2 > files You can check the uncompressed result of the concatenation to the stdout by using the bzcat command, e.g:
bzcat files.bz2

So the files.bz2 will still being a single file at the end. To be clear on that, if you extract the files.bz2 like:

bunzip files.bz2

The result will be just a single file named files, and it's content will be the concatenation of the file1 and file2.

Multiple files need to be packed with the tar command like tar -cvjf files.tbz file1 file2
Where the -j here is equivalent wrapper flag from the tar command to add the bzip compression.


Remove finalArchive.zip just input the list of files. Example screenshot below:

enter image description here

  • care to add why the -1?
    – DRP
    Nov 3, 2022 at 21:54

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