atool is a script for managing file archives of various types (tar, tar+gzip, zip etc). The main command is probably aunpack, extracting files from an archive. It overcomes the dreaded "multiple files in archive root" problem by first extracting to a unique subdirectory, and then moving back the files if possible. aunpack also prevents local files from being overwritten by mistake.
Joao L. suggested this package and says:
In simple words, "atool" is a front end to multiple compress/decompress/archiver programs, solving even the very annoying problem of archives which unpack multiple files to the current directory.
Joao also notes that a much more recent version of atool can be found at the project's home page as well as Debian packages of same (the version in testing/sarge appears to be much older).
More information on this package can be found on the Debian web site.
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