unrar_wrapper is a wrapper python script that transforms the basic UnRAR commands to unar and lsar calls in order to provide a backwards compatibility.
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UnRAR wrapper

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UnRAR wrapper (unrar_wrapper.py) is a wrapper python script that transforms the basic UnRAR commands to unar and lsar calls in order to provide a backwards compatibility.

Reasons for wrapper

UnRAR is freeware command-line application for extracting RAR file archives. Unfortunately, this piece of software is non-free and therefore in many distributions, it's beeing replaced by LGPL the Unarchiver (unar/lsar).

In general, the Unarchiver seems to be a good alternative to non-free unrar. It supports basically the same formats (except for UUE and JAR and a limited support for ARJ (no multi-part) and ACE (no support for Ace 2.0)) and it also supports RAR5.

Unfortunately, UnRAR and Unarchiver are not CLI compatible at all, they have a different set of options. Unrar supports quite a big set of options (sometimes rather obscure and unnecessary) while Unarchiver only supports a relatively small subset of it. Unarchiver also distributes this functionality between unar (unpacking) and lsar (listing and testing) utilities.

Supported functionality

As it was already written, UnRAR provides a huge set of commands and options, while Unarchiver only a relatively small subset of it. As the main purpose of this wrapper is to preserve the basic backwards compatibility, only the essential commands and options are supported.


unrar command [option1] [optionN] archive [files...] [@listfiles...] [path_to_extract/]

unar [OPTION]... ARCHIVE [FILE]...

lsar [OPTION]... ARCHIVE...

As you can see even UnRAR and Unarchiver synopsis is different. Wrapper supports UnRAR synopsis as is only for extract (x) command. For list (l) and test (t) commands it supports neither files, @listfiles nor path_to_extract/ as Unarchiver doesn't provide this functionality.

UnRAR unar wrapper implementation
[files...] [FILE] direct
[@listfiles...] not supported via multiple [FILE]
[path_to_extract/] unar -output-directory direct



UnRAR cmd unar cmd wrapper implementation
e not supported not implemented
x unar direct

UnRAR command e extracts files without an archived path. Unarchiver doesn’t support this behaviour and therefore it would need to be simulated by this wrapper. Unfortunately, this would be quite a complex feature for example because of the interactivity when files conflicts emerge and therefore it’s not implemented within this wrapper.


UnRAR supports many variants for listing the information about the archive. l[t[a],b] for listing of a archive [technical[all],bare] and v[t[a],b] for verbose listing of a archive. Practically it means the following combinations: l, lt, lta, lb ( and vice versa for the v option). However, lsar supports only basic listing and options l and L for print more/all information about each file in the archive.

According to my tests, there is no difference in the output for l and v command except for plain unrar l and unrar v, where unrar v adds packed and ratio column to the output. As the purpose of this wrapper is not to precisely simulate the output, the following simplified projection was used:

UnRAR cmd lsar cmd
lb, vb lsar
l, v lsar -l
lt, lta,vt, vta lsar -L


UnRAR cmd lsar cmd wrapper implementation
t -t direct


UnRAR cmd unar cmd wrapper implementation
p not supported not implemented

UnRAR's p command simply prints the file to stdout. It's not supported in unar and as I don't find this command critical, I didn't implement it.


UnRAR contains many options but only the following are directly supported in the Unarchiver. Simulation of the other options is beyond the scope of this wrapper.

UnRAR opt unar/lsar opt wrapper implementation
-o+ unar-force-overwrite direct
-o- unar -force-skip direct
-or unar -force-rename direct
-p[password] p PASSWORD direct

For UnRAR, all these options can be used with all commands, even if it doesn't make any sense. In that case, it's simply ignored (e.g. when you use -o+ with l command). Based on what is supported in unar I decided to support these options only for extract command, with the exception of -p that is supported for all commands.

Default options

If the archive has no directory (i.e. files are present directly in the archive) then UnRAR unpack them as is. But unar create a containing directory by default if there is more than one top-level file or folder. Because of this, we need to use -D, -no-directory unar option as default. This option means to never create an extra containing directory for the contents of the unpacked archive.

Return codes

UnRAR supports many return codes that indicate what was wrong (e.g. wrong password, write error, file create error etc.). However, Unarchiver uses only two basic return codes - 0 (success) and 1 (error). As it's impossible to translate return code 1 to any other more specific description of the error, only these two codes are supported by this wrapper with the addition of code 2 that indicates wrapper argument error.


This project contains two types of tests - unit and functional. Unit tests test the basic functionality of the particular python functions. Functional tests perform tests on real RAR archives (located in tests/testdata directory).

If you want to run unit tests then run python3 -m unittest tests.test_unrar_wrapper from the main directory.

If you want to run functional tests then run ./tests/functional_tests.sh tests/testdata/functional/ unrar_wrapper.py from the main directory.