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Linux zip files

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Learn how to zip files and folders on Linux systems

15 Jun, 2021 ยท 2 min read

Today we'll look at how to zip up one or multiple files on Linux systems. Zipping files can come in handy when dealing with multiple files or backups that need to be transferred or moved.

In my case, this situation occurred because I wanted to email attach multiple log files.

The Linux ZIP command

Let's first look at the command itself.

zip options zip_name files

Where this works as follows:

  • zip: The Linux command to zip things
  • options: We can pass in arguments for the end zip results
  • zip_name: The output name, without the .zip part
  • files: One or more files comma separated

We could do this to show you the most simple zip command for one file.

zip archive test.txt

This will create an archive.zip in that folder containing the test.txt file.

Installing zip on Ubuntu or Centos

You can run the following command to install the zip command on Ubuntu or Debian systems.

sudo apt install zip

For CentOS and Fedora systems, you can use Yum.

sudo yum install zip

Zipping multiple files in Linux systems

To add multiple files, we can specify them with a space between like this.

zip archive test.txt test2.txt test3.txt

However, in most cases, you want to zip a whole folder and its contents, right?

We can pass the -r option (Recursive) to achieve this.

zip -r archive my_directory

This will take all the files inside my_directory and zip them into one archive.

As we did above, we can still add separate files in the zip by passing them along.

zip -r archive my_directory test.txt

Linux zip options

So far, we have seen the -r option to recursively add files in a folder.

As you may know, there are multiple compressions levels for zip files. The default one is deflate. But we can also zip files using the bzip2 compression.

We can pass the -Z option to use a different compression method.

zip -r -Z bzip2 archive my_directory

We can also specify the level of compression we want. This is passed with a number from 0-9. Where 0 is no compression and 9 is the highest. The default compression is -6.

To use it:

zip -r -9 archive my_directory test.txt

Another cool option is to encrypt the zip. This means we put a password on it.

zip -r -e archive my_directory

This will prompt you for the password twice.

# Enter password:
# Verify password:

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