bzip2 – Compress files into bz2 format

The bzip2 command is used to compress files into the .bz2 format. This format is similar to gzip and is commonly used for compressing large files to save disk space and reduce transfer times.


The basic syntax for the bzip2 command is as follows:


Where FILE is the name of the file to be compressed.


To compress a file named example.txt using the bzip2 command, simply run the following command:

bzip2 example.txt

This will create a compressed file named example.txt.bz2 in the same directory as the original file.

To decompress a .bz2 file, use the bunzip2 command:

bunzip2 example.txt.bz2

This will decompress the file and create a new file named example.txt.

Specific Use Cases

The bzip2 command is particularly useful when compressing large files, such as log files or database backups, for storage or transfer. The compressed files take up less disk space and can be transferred more quickly over a network.


The following table lists the available options for the bzip2 command:

Option Description
-z Compress the file. This is the default behavior.
-d Decompress the file.
-k Keep the original file after compression or decompression.
-f Force compression or decompression, even if the output file already exists or the input file is not a valid .bz2 file.
-v Verbose output. Print the name of each file as it is compressed or decompressed.
-q Quiet output. Suppress all output except for error messages.
-t Test the integrity of a compressed file.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If you receive an error message that says “bzip2: command not found”, you may need to install the bzip2 package. On Debian-based systems, you can install it with the following command:
    sudo apt-get install bzip2
  • If you receive an error message that says “bzip2: Can’t open input file example.txt: No such file or directory”, make sure that you are in the correct directory and that the file exists.


  • The bzip2 command is not as fast as some other compression algorithms, such as gzip or xz, but it generally produces smaller compressed files.