Why I used Python to unzip a file

alvinmilton profile image Alvin Milton ・2 min read

So my day has started like this:

I'm ssh'd into a pretty locked down server in a data center.

This server runs an instance of Wordpress that I have been tasked with migrating over to wordpress.com.

Picture wordpress.com now:
Requires importing with large XML files, no access to the server via terminal, no access to mysql, no logs, only wp-admin via front end.

I needed to install a plugin on the site I'm migrating from but could not through the admin panel because its locked down.


Normally, I would just download the plug in and run scp from local to remote to get it to where it has to go.

That looks like this:

cd /to/install/dir
scp <filename> serveraddres:/dir/to/save/file/to

Enter your ssh password and thats it.

Alternate path...

However, sometimes I am already ssh'd into the server and this was one of those occasions. I could have opened a new terminal tab and did the above but again trying to expedite in the least amount of steps.

What I did was use curl to download the file to the server from source skipping the step of putting it on my machine first to then copy it to the server.

That looks like this:
curl http://sitename.com/wp-fileIwant.zip --output wp-fileIwant.zip

Great the file is on the server.

So I tried first running unzip to no avail because it wasn't installed.
Then I tried installing unzip and that was a no go for some reason i didn't feel like debugging. I am wary of the rabbit holes that persistently force us devs to context switch.

Then I came across this gem:

all you need to unzip a file with python

Which funnily enough, I could not open with nano, or emacs because neither was installed. So vim came in handy here.

Wrote the code and saved it in the dir.

Then I ran it. That looked like this:
python unzip.py wp-fileIwant.zip

And lo and behold my file was unzipped.

I could activate it via the front end and do what I needed.

Thus, python.


markdown guide

I've been in a locked down Docker container for a GitLab runner. Didn't feel like atp-get, yum, or apk installing unzip. You don't need that script, you can run Python's unzip as a module...

python -m zipfile whatever.zip

... Or something like that.


Hey Eric,
I tried this and it didn't work locally or on the server.
Can you clarify?


Try just
python3 -e wp-fileIwant.zip .


tried it.
got unknown option -e as a response...


Sorry, some words were missed. The correct line is:
python3 -m zipfile -e wp-fileIwant.zip .


tar can also be used for decompressing zip files in most cases


Enter your ssh password

Have you heard about ssh keys? ;p


If you are referring to adding my key to ssh-agent, I just did that.

Thanks for the tip.


Cute story. Made me smile. Took my mind off the grind for a second.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

This REALLY didn't need an article. It's the tech-equivalent of blogging about every meal.


This comment REALLY didn't need to be made either, but here we are.


Sick Daniel-on-Daniel burn