RAR is a proprietary file format designed for archiving files and was developed by WinRAR. WinRAR provides a Windows application to extract RAR files, while Linux users have a command-line tool called unrar.

Although unrar is exclusively a command-line utility for Linux, it is also available on other Unix-based operating systems like macOS and FreeBSD. Most Linux distributions include unrar in their default package manager repositories, allowing easy installation and use through the terminal.

Steps to open rar file in Linux:

  1. Open your preferred terminal application.
  2. Verify the RAR file's format is correct.
    $ file archive.rar
    archive.rar: RAR archive data, v5
  3. Install the unrar tool using your Linux distribution's package manager.
    $ sudo apt update && sudo apt install --assume-yes unrar # Ubuntu and Debian
    [sudo] password for user:
    ##### snipped
    The following NEW packages will be installed:
    0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove, and 0 not upgraded.
    Need to get 113 kB of archives.
    After this operation, 400 kB of additional disk space will be used.
    ##### snipped
    $ sudo yum install --assumeyes epel-release && sudo yum install --assumeyes unar # CentOS 7 and other Red Hat variance
    [sudo] password for user:

    The package name and the corresponding binary is unar instead of unrar. This is also only available for CentOS / Red Hat 7 or below.

    > sudo zypper refresh && sudo zypper -n install unrar #OpenSUSE and other SUSE variance
    [sudo] password for root:       d
    Repository 'Main Repository (NON-OSS)' is up to date.                                                         
    Repository 'Main Repository (OSS)' is up to date.                                                             
    Repository 'Main Update Repository' is up to date.                                                            
    All repositories have been refreshed.
    Loading repository data...
    Reading installed packages...
    Resolving package dependencies...
    The following NEW package is going to be installed:
    1 new package to install.
    Overall download size: 155.3 KiB. Already cached: 0 B. After the operation, additional 334.1 KiB will be used.
    Continue? [y/n/v/...? shows all options] (y): y
  4. Preview the RAR file's contents without extracting them.
    $ unrar l archive.rar
    UNRAR 5.71 freeware      Copyright (c) 1993-2019 Alexander Roshal
    Archive: archive.rar
    Details: RAR 5
     Attributes      Size     Date    Time   Name
    ----------- ---------  ---------- -----  ----
     -rw-rw-r--         0  2019-11-02 01:41  archive/folder-02/file-02
     -rw-rw-r--         0  2019-11-02 01:41  archive/folder-02/file-01
     -rw-rw-r--         0  2019-11-02 01:41  archive/folder-01/file-02
     -rw-rw-r--         0  2019-11-02 01:41  archive/folder-01/file-01
     drwxrwxr-x         0  2019-11-02 01:41  archive/folder-02
     drwxrwxr-x         0  2019-11-02 01:41  archive/folder-01
     drwxrwxr-x         0  2019-11-02 01:41  archive
    ----------- ---------  ---------- -----  ----
                        0                    7
  5. Make sure you have sufficient disk space for the extraction process.
    $ df -h temp/
    Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
    /dev/sda2        20G  4.3G   15G  23% /
  6. Create a folder where you want to extract the files (optional).
    $ mkdir directory
  7. Navigate to the target directory where you want to extract the files (optional).
    $ cd directory
  8. Execute the unrar command to extract the files.
    $ unrar x ~/file.rar
    UNRAR 5.71 freeware      Copyright (c) 1993-2019 Alexander Roshal
    Extracting from /home/user/file.rar
    Creating    folder                                                    OK
    Creating    folder/sub-01                                             OK
    Extracting  folder/sub-01/file-01                                     OK
    Extracting  folder/sub-01/file-02                                     OK
    All OK

    Other unrar options.

    $ unrar
    UNRAR 5.71 freeware      Copyright (c) 1993-2019 Alexander Roshal
    Usage:     unrar <command> -<switch 1> -<switch N> <archive> <files...>
                   <@listfiles...> <path_to_extract\>
      e             Extract files without archived paths
      l[t[a],b]     List archive contents [technical[all], bare]
      p             Print file to stdout
      t             Test archive files
      v[t[a],b]     Verbosely list archive contents [technical[all],bare]
      x             Extract files with full path
  9. Browse the contents of the extracted files.
    $ ls -R
    file-01  file-02
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