bzless Command in Linux with Examples

The bzless command is an essential utility in the Linux ecosystem, especially when managing bzip2 compressed files. This guide will provide a thorough understanding of the bzless command and illustrate its utility with various practical examples.

Comparing bzless and bzmore Commands

Before we delve into the syntax and examples of bzless, it’s worth comparing it with the bzmore command, another common utility in Linux for handling compressed files. Both commands allow you to read bzip2 compressed files without decompressing them, saving storage space and increasing convenience.

The key difference lies in their navigation features. While bzmore only allows you to move forward in the file (similar to the ‘more’ command), bzless, akin to the ‘less’ command, allows both forward and backward navigation in the file. This additional feature makes bzless more versatile and user-friendly when navigating large files.

The Syntax of the bzless Command

Using the bzless command is fairly straightforward, and it comes with a set of optional flags that can modify the behavior of the command. Here is the basic syntax:

bzless [options] filename
  • bzless: Invokes the bzless command.
  • [options]: These are optional flags that change the command’s behavior.
  • filename: The name of the bzipped file you want to view.

Now, let’s delve into some of the commonly used options:

  • -N: This option is used to display line numbers.
  • -S: This option ensures long lines are not wrapped and enables horizontal scrolling.
  • -I: This option ensures the case is ignored during searches.
  • -M: This option displays a more verbose prompt.

Exploring the bzless Command with Examples

In this section, we’ll demonstrate the utility of the bzless command with practical examples. Each example serves as a learning tool, elaborating on the syntax and varied uses of the command.

Viewing a Bzipped File Using bzless

The primary function of the bzless command is to provide a direct view of the contents of a bzipped file. To do this, you simply need to invoke bzless followed by the filename. Here’s an example:

bzless filename.bz2

Upon executing this command, the contents of filename.bz2 will be displayed on your terminal.

Searching Within a Bzipped File

The bzless command also allows you to search for a specific pattern within a bzipped file. For this operation, you use the -p flag followed by the pattern you’re searching for:

bzless -p pattern filename.bz2

Ignoring Case in Search with bzless

Sometimes, you may want your search to be case-insensitive. To ignore case during a search, use the -I option:

bzless -I filename.bz2

After running this command, you can input the pattern you’re searching for, and it will be considered case-insensitive.

Viewing a File with Line Numbers

If you want to view the contents of a file along with line numbers, use the -N option:

bzless -N filename.bz2

This command will display the contents of filename.bz2 with each line numbered for easier navigation.

Suppressing Long Lines Wrapping

In cases where you want to avoid long lines wrapping to the next line, you can use the -S option:

bzless -S filename.bz2

This will allow you to scroll horizontally through long lines.

Viewing Detailed Prompt

If you want a more detailed prompt, you can use the -M option:

bzless -M filename.bz2

This will provide a verbose prompt that includes more information.

Displaying the Version of bzless

If you want to see the version of your bzless utility, use the -V option:

bzless -V

This command will display the version information of your bzless utility.

Suppressing Error Messages

Sometimes, you might not want to see any error messages while viewing a file. To suppress error messages, use the -q option:

bzless -q filename.bz2

This command will suppress any error messages from showing up.

Viewing Help Information

If you need to quickly view the help information of the bzless command, you can use the -h or --help option:

bzless -h


bzless --help

These commands will show the help information, providing a summary of available options.


The bzless command is a robust tool in Linux, providing efficient handling and viewing of bzipped files. Understanding how to use it effectively can significantly enhance your productivity when dealing with bzipped files. The examples provided above offer a wide range of the command’s utility in different scenarios, making it an invaluable part of your Linux toolkit.

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