Do you know a GNU/Linux tool that can search for a file inside archive file (zip, tar, etc) nested in another archive file (also zip, tar, etc)?

It would be sufficient to search only by file name. I'm interested in Free/Open Source software.

  • Any budget, or must it be free/open-source? What to search for: just file names, or contents? In the latter case, what document formats (e.g. plain text, PDF, ODF) must be supported?
    – Izzy
    Jan 14 '16 at 10:42

You can use the AVFS filesystem to access any archive as if it was a directory. (There are multiple ways to do this, AVFS has the advantage that you don't need to mount every archive explicitly.) Install it (preferably from your distribution, if it has this package), and run the command mountavfs. This creates a view of the filesystem at ~/.avfs. In this view, whenever ~/.avfs/path/to/foo.zip is an archive file (all common archive types are supported), an additional directory ~/.avfs/path/to/foo.zip# contains the content of the archive. This works recursively: if foo.zip itself contains archives, you can access their contents with a path like ~/.avfs/path/to/foo.zip#/subdir/bar.tar.gz#myfile.

Now that the job has been reduced to exploring a directory tree, you can write a small shell script that leverages the find command to search within nested archives. Here's a recursive script that takes two arguments, a directory or archive to explore and a file name wildcard pattern to search for.

# Use the AVFS view, to search inside archives
case "$1" in
  ~/.avfs/*) root="$1";;
  /*) root="$HOME/.avfs$1";;
  *) root="$HOME/.avfs$PWD/$1";;
# If there is a ...# directory, assume this is an archive with its companion
# artificial directory
if [ -e "$root#/" ]; then root="$root#/"; fi
# Print matches, and search recursively inside archives
find "$root" -name "$2" -print -o \
     \( -name '*.zip' -o -name '*.tgz' -o -name '*.tar.gz' -o -name '*.tar.bz2' -o -name '*.tar.xz' \) \
     -exec "$0" {} "$2" \;

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.