In the section "Installing Portage", the Gentoo installation docs say:

# tar xvjf /mnt/gentoo/portage-latest.tar.bz2 -C /mnt/gentoo/usr

What does this command do?


Tar is used to handle archives (historically saved on tapes).

  • The x tells it to extract files from the archive
  • v stands for verbose
  • j for bzip2 archive
  • f indicates the file name
  • finally: C tells it to change directory (so the package content will be unpacked there)

See also man tar.

  • I've also seen -C used while creating an archive. What does it mean in that context? – frakman1 Jan 23 '20 at 21:51
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    @frakman1: Do I really have to copy the contents of man tar here? – choroba Jan 23 '20 at 22:11
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    The man page just says change to directory DIR which is not very helpful. Saying "(so the package content will be unpacked there)" on the other hand, is. – frakman1 Jan 23 '20 at 22:19
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    OK. When -C is used while creating an archive, it specifies where to search for the files to archive. – choroba Jan 24 '20 at 9:58

If you ever need to know what a parameter does again, try to read the man first. The command man tar, and then doing /-C will get you to the section describing what -C stands for, which in this example represents 'change directory' (i.e. sends the results of the unpacking to /mnt/gentoo/usr).


It unpacks /mnt/gentoo/portage-latest.tar.bz2 in /mnt/gentoo/usr/

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