The Python module 'tarfile' is more flexible then it's counterpart 'zipfile'. It allows you to simply archive files without compression, or use the gzip format of compression, or the super compression format bzip2. Here is code to show you the use of the module.
# work with a tarball compressed archive file (similar to zip) # Python module tarfile is better and more flexible than zipfile # it allows gzip and the even denser bzip2 compression # tested with Python24 vegaseat 18jan2007 import tarfile str1 = "If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen." str2 = "Dinner is ready when the smoke alarm goes off." str3 = "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" # write test file 1 fout = open("TarTest1.txt", "w") fout.write(str1) fout.close() # write test file 2 fout = open("TarTest2.txt", "w") fout.write(str2) fout.close() # write test file 3 fout = open("TarTest3.txt", "w") fout.write(str3) fout.close() # pick your compression ... # for uncompressed use file extension .tar and modifier "w" # for gzip compressed use file extension .tar.gz and modifier "w:gz" # for bzip2 super compressed use file extension .tar.bz2 and "w:bz2" # use "w", "w:gz" or "w:bz2" for all file types, including binary files tar = tarfile.open("TarTest.tar.bz2", "w:bz2") # turn the three test files into a tar archive for name in ["TarTest1.txt", "TarTest2.txt", "TarTest3.txt"]: tar.add(name) tar.close() print '-'*40 # test if the file is a valid tar file tfilename = "TarTest.tar.bz2" if tarfile.is_tarfile(tfilename): print "%s is a valid tar file" % tfilename else: print "%s is not a valid tar file" % tfilename print '-'*40 # read the tarfile you just wrote tar = tarfile.open("TarTest.tar.bz2", "r:bz2") file_list =  for file in tar: # show filename and size (bytes) print "file %s has a size of %d bytes" % (file.name, file.size) file_list.append(file.name) # another way to get the file list file_list2 = tar.getnames() print '-'*50 print file_list print file_list2 print '-'*50 # pick one of the three files in the tar-archive (tarball) filename = file_list # decompress the particular file data = tar.extractfile(filename).read() # if it's a text file, show contents if filename.endswith(".txt"): print "Content of file %s in the tarball:" % filename print data # write the files out to new files for fname in tar.getnames(): # extract/decompress the data of each file data = tar.extractfile(fname).read() # optionally change the filename new_file = "new_" + fname print "File %s written!" % new_file # write the decompressed data to a file fout = open(new_file, "w") fout.write(data) fout.close() # done, close the tar file ... tar.close()