So I have this wikipedia dump sized at about 10gb and named as "enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2". I have been trying the following commands in the terminal to unzip the dump:

tar jxf enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2


tar xvf enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2

But both of them returns the following error

tar: This does not look like a tar archive
tar: Skipping to next header
  • 1
    arun run the following command and past the out put "file enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2"
    – PKumar
    Mar 24, 2015 at 6:19
  • This Q/A can help, use 7z util for extracting everything
    – c0rp
    Mar 24, 2015 at 11:43
  • 2
    I notice you say this is a huge file - so another things you might want to do is pipe it into something, bzcat enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2 | someotherprogram
    – nwaltham
    Mar 24, 2015 at 15:34
  • @nwaltham: You'd have my upvote if you made that an answer. Mar 24, 2015 at 19:49
  • Because tar extracts tar files, and it's not a tar file?
    – user253751
    Mar 25, 2015 at 3:22

2 Answers 2


You can't use the tar command because the archive isn't a .tar.* file. To uncompress a bzip2 file, use the following command (this won't preserve the original .bz2 file):

bzip2 -d enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2

If you want to extract it and keep the original, run this command:

bzip2 -dk enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2

Source: https://superuser.com/questions/480950/how-to-decompress-a-bz2-file

  • 3
    Or use bunzip2.
    – user253751
    Mar 25, 2015 at 3:22
  • @immibis Either way works.:)
    – Terrance8D
    Mar 25, 2015 at 4:00

Just use bunzip2:

bunzip2 enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2

And if its a gzip commpressed file:

gunzip enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.gz

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