For example: I extract a tar.bz2 file with tar -xvf instead of tar -xjvf:

 tar -xvf file.tar.bz2
 tar: invalid tar magic

and if redirect stderr

 tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 2>/dev/null

it works.

Now if I use a pipe

 tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 | grep "something" 2>/dev/null 
 tar: invalid tar magic

Here if the first command fails I cannot suppress the error.

Is there a way to suppress in this way

  • Not sure what you mean by "it works". Note that ignoring this error won't "solve" the problem... The reason you're getting the error is that the *.bz2 file is not a tar file so the type-check (tar magic code at the beginning) fails. Also a grep on stdout won't actually search the contents of the extracted files. Can you explain what are you trying to achieve here?
    – arielf
    Sep 9, 2015 at 7:36

2 Answers 2


Here are couple of alternatives that involve redirecting STDERR of both tar and grep :

  • Use bash command grouping {}:

    { tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 | grep "something" ;} 2>/dev/null
  • Using a subshell () :

    ( tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 | grep "something" ) 2>/dev/null

Note that if you want to redirect STDERR of a single process its better to use Oli's answer instead.

On a different note, if you want to grep something over both the STDOUT and STDERR of tar use :

tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 |& grep "something"

This will also cause the STDERR of tar to be exhausted.

This is actually a shorthand for :

tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 2>&1 | grep "something"

The pipe forms a separate clause in the command so the redirection in...

tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 | grep "something" 2>/dev/null 

...is redirecting the STDERR from grep, not tar.

To fix, simply reorder things so your redirect is with your tar command:

tar -xvf file.tar.bz2 2>/dev/null | grep "something"

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