I was trying to compress a folder into .tar format.

The folder size is around 76 MB.

Suppose I want to compress the folder myfolder to my-compressed-folder (in tar format)

I tried 2 approaches:

1) In the terminal, I executed:

tar -cjvf my-compressed-folder myfolder

The size of .tar by this method is 23 MB

2) On using the in-built Compress after right clicking on myfolder & choosing the .tar.xz, the size of .tar is around 17 MB.

I have 2 doubts:

1) How is there so much size difference in the 2 compressed files in same (.tar) format?

2) Is there any Linux command by which I can create compressed .tar files with the compression ratio same as the in-built Compress feature of Ubuntu?

My system details are as follows:

Ubuntu Desktop
Version 18.04.4 LTS (64-bit)
  • Doesn't the -j option of tar produce a bzip2 compressed file? if you want an apples to apples comparison to the xz file, you should use -J I think? May 11, 2020 at 17:40
  • @K7AAY I have added the Ubuntu system details
    – dashthird
    May 11, 2020 at 17:56
  • @steeldriver would try that now & update you shortly
    – dashthird
    May 11, 2020 at 17:57
  • @steeldriver Thanks! tar -cJvf worked :) How may I mark your comment as the answer?
    – dashthird
    May 11, 2020 at 18:02
  • I have added a brief answer below May 11, 2020 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


From man tar:

   -j, --bzip2
          Filter the archive through bzip2(1).

   -J, --xz
          Filter the archive through xz(1).

so your command tar -cjvf my-compressed-folder myfolder created a bzip2-compressed archive rather than an xz-compressed archive.

For an apples-to-apples comparison with the tar.xz file that you created from the file manager, you should use tar -cJvf my-compressed-folder myfolder.

  • Thanks once again! I thought they both (j and J) would work same like other options in many other Linux commands, but I was wrong
    – dashthird
    May 11, 2020 at 18:07

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