atool - Introduction

atool is a script for managing file archives of various types (tar, tar+gzip, zip etc).

The main command is aunpack which extracts files from an archive. Did you ever extract files from an archive, not checking whether the files were located in a subdirectory or in the top directory of the archive, resulting in files scattered all over the place? aunpack overcomes this problem by first extracting to a new directory. If there was only a single file in the archive, that file is moved to the original directory. aunpack also prevents local files from being overwritten by mistake.

The other commands provided are apack (to create archives), als (to list files in archives), and acat (to extract files to standard out). As atool invokes external programs to handle the archives, not all commands may be supported for a certain type of archives.

atool identifies archives by their file extension. Sometimes this is not possible - for instance rar archives usually have varying numeric file extensions. In those cases when atool can't identify the format, file is used instead. (atool can be configured not to use file.)

atool is written in Perl by Oskar Liljeblad and is free software (GNU General Public License).


The complete history of atool can be seen here.


The latest version of atool is 0.39.0, which was released on 2012-04-02:

Precompiled binaries are available as well (sorry, only for the old version 0.37.0):

These files, as well as older versions, are available in the atool file area. You can also find RPM packages of atool for Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux at ATrpms:

Other Links

atool is mentioned on the following pages:

Copyright and License

atool is Copyright (C) 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 Oskar Liljeblad

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.

The source code of this project may contain files from other projects, and files generated by other projects, including:

Such files are licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License or a license compatible with the GNU GPL (as listed on See each file for copyright details.


The following programs are required to run atool:

The following programs are optional:

Debian package: unalz


To build all files, simply run


The configure script accepts a few options - use the following command to show them:

./configure --help


Installing atool is a matter of copying the atool file to some appropriate directory for executable files, usually /usr/local/bin. After that, symbolic links for apack, aunpack, als and acat to atool should be created in the same directory.

All this can be done automaticly by running

make install

It is possible to create a system wide configuration file overriding default values found in the top of the atool script (see below).

Usage and Configuration

A list of options that atool accepts can be displayed by running atool with the --help option:

atool --help

Please see the manual page for atool for full use and configuration information. This document can usually be viewed this way:

man ./atool.1


Web site and file area for atool is hosted on Savannah:

The latest version of atool should always be available on this site.


The author of atool and this document, Oskar Liljeblad, can be reached by e-mail:

Please send bug reports, suggestions, ideas or comments in general to me - I would like to hear from you if you like (or don't like) atool.