I need to get binary files into text format. Years ago, I used uuencode/uudecode, and it was easy:

uuencode file.xls > file.txt
# Delete file.xls
# Do whatever with file.txt
# Now I need file.xls back
uudecode file.txt > file.xls

But uuencode/uudecode is not on my system, and as I look around, the yum/rpm process is ugly--this gives me the clue that maybe no one uses it any more and instead there is something more modern to do this.

I looked at xxd and hexdump but couldn't get them to do it. Could just be dumb user issues.

What can I use on Linux to do this? Would like it to be something that tends to be in the native install so I don't need to yum/rpm it if possible.

Just for your own understanding, what I'm specifically trying to do now is source control an *.xls file but the corporate tool doesn't allow *.xls in. I respect that constraint normally, but in my context, an *.xls is a configuration table for my code so It is logically like source code, but the corporate SVN trigger is physical--if it's *.xls, it gets rejected, so I'll encode it and source control the *.txt file.


  • "the yum/rpm process is ugly"? What process exactly? Installing programs that didn't come by default?
    – user1686
    May 4 '15 at 20:10

Got it:

xxd -p excel.xlsx > excel.xxdp
xxd -p -r excel.xxdp > recover.xlsx
diff excel.xlsx recover.xlsx
  • 1
    xxd is like uuencode, but not a replacement for it. May 4 '15 at 21:38

Those (uuencode/uudecode) are usually packaged as part of sharutils (see also its nominal website).

This question has been asked before:


There is a python program you can use for this.

$ python hexdump.py abc.tar  > abc.ascii

$ python hexdump.py -r abc.ascii > def.tar

$ md5sum abc.tar def.tar abc.ascii
e4733a492d5ae78d9e163a9ec808b6ae  abc.tar
e4733a492d5ae78d9e163a9ec808b6ae  def.tar
b56a0ed4d794c0cf6084ddb9e7c862f8  abc.ascii

$ ls -pla abc*
-rw-r--r--. 1 60001 60001 61514 Mar 13 16:08 abc.ascii
-rw-r--r--. 1 60001 60001 12775 Mar 13 15:33 abc.tar

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