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I'm trying to extract a tar.xz file with tar in Mac OS X Lion. I'm using bsdtar 2.8.3 - libarchive 2.8.3. I'm able to use tar to extract anything else I've tried (.zip, .tar, .tar.gz, etc.), but when I try to extract the file (this file to be precise) using tar -Jxf cclive-0.7.11.tar.xz, I get this error:

tar: Error opening archive: Child process exited with status 254Child process exited with status 254
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Same error here (tried GNU tar and the one included in OS X).

You are missing the xz compression program which tar tries to use.

Either install a precompiled xz from Sourceforge or, if you are like me, download the source from and compile it yourself:

$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install

(Unless told otherwise, ./configure installs xz in /usr/local/bin. You possibly want to add it to $PATH.)


$ xz --decompress cclive-0.7.11.tar.xz
$ l cclive-0.7.11.tar 
-rw-r--r-- 1 jaume 1832960 2012-12-12 15:18 cclive-0.7.11.tar

Now untar as usual:

$ tar xf cclive-0.7.11.tar
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brew install xz also works if you are already using homebrew – alanning Mar 1 '13 at 16:17
port install xz also works if you are using MacPorts – Michael Aug 5 '14 at 20:45
brew install xz

.. then repeat the original command

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

This worked for me. Thanks for being concise. – JGallardo Dec 26 '13 at 21:47

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