Archiving and compression
The traditional Unix archiving and compression tools are separated according to the Unix philosophy:
- A file archiver combines several files into one archive file, e.g. tar.
- A compression tool compresses and decompresses data, e.g. gzip.
These tools are often used in sequence by firstly creating an archive file and then compressing it.
Of course there are also tools that do both, which tend to additionally offer encryption, error detection and recovery.
- 1 Archiving only
- 2 Compression tools
- 3 Usage comparison
- 4 Convenience tools
- 5 Determining archive format
- 6 Esoteric, rare or deprecated tools
- 7 Device mapper compression
- 8 Compression libraries
- 9 See also
|GNU tar||info,||Core utility for manipulating the ubiquitous tar archives (tarballs), which are used by pacman and the AUR.|
|libarchive||Implementation of tar and cpio that also offers a library. Used by pacman and mkinitcpio.|
|ar||Legacy Unix archiver before tar. Today only used for creating static library files.|
|cpio||File archiver via stdin/stdout, supports cpio and tar formats.|
|DAR||AUR||Archiver to backup large live filesystems, takes care of hard links, extended attributes, sparse files and inode types.|
-aswitch to automatically filter the created archive through the right compression program based on the file extension. While BSD tar recognizes compression formats based on the format, GNU tar only guesses based on the file extension.
See also #Archiving only usage.
These compression programs implement their own file format.
|Name||Package||Manual||Ext||Tar ext||Description||Parallel implementations|
|bzip2||.bz2, .bz||.tbz2, .tbz||Uses the Burrows–Wheeler algorithm.||,|
|gzip||.gz, .z||.tgz, .taz||GNU zip, based on DEFLATE algorithm.|
|lrzip||.lrz||Improved version of rzip, uses multiple algorithms.||is multithreaded|
|LZ4||.lz4||Written in C, focused on compression and decompression speed.||is multithreaded|
|lzop||.lzop||.tzo||Uses the LZO library ( ).|
|xz||.xz, .lzma||.txz, .tlz||Uses LZMA, default for GNU and kernel archive files.||is multithreaded,, AUR|
|zstd||.zst||Uses Zstandard algorithm.||is multithreaded|
- Parallel implementations offer improved speeds by using multiple CPU cores.
- Tar extensions refers to compressed archives where
tarand the compression tool is used, e.g.
- See also #Compression only usage.
Archiving and compression
|7z||.7z||POSIX port of 7-zip's command-line. See p7zip.|
|RAR||AUR,||.rar||Both the format and the rar utility are proprietary.|
|ZIP||,||,||.zip||Widely used outside of the Linux world.|
|Unarchiver||,||many||Command-line tool of a Mac application, supports over 40 archive formats.|
|ZPAQ||AUR||.zpaq||A high compression ratio archiver written in C++, uses several algorithms.|
|LHa||, AUR||.lzh (on Amiga: .lha)||LZH/LHA archiver, supports the lh7-method.|
See also #Archiving and compression usage.
Archiving only usage
|Name||Create archive||Extract archive||List content|
Compression only usage
|Name||Compress||Decompress||Decompress to stdout|
Archiving and compression usage
|Name||Compress||Decompress||Decompress to stdout||List content|
- atool — Script for managing file archives of various types.
- dtrx — An intelligent archive extraction tool.
- unp — Command line tool that can unpack archives easily.
- unpack — Wrapper script for handling multiple archive formats.
Determining archive format
To extract an archive, its file format needs to be determined. If the file is properly named you can deduce its format from the file extension.
Otherwise you can use thetool, see .
Esoteric, rare or deprecated tools
|ARC||AUR||.arc, .ark||Was very popular during the early days of the dial-up BBS. Superseded by ZIP.|
|ARJ||.arj||An archiver used on DOS/Windows in mid-1990s. This is an open source clone.|
|compress||.Z||The classic unix compression utility which can handle the ancient .Z archive.|
|PAR2||.par2||Parity archiver for increased data integrity. See also Parchive.|
|shar||.shar||Creates self-extracting archives that are valid shell scripts.|
|Zoo||AUR||.zoo||Was mostly popular on the OpenVMS operating system before PKZIP became popular.|
Device mapper compression
There is work being done to mainline (integrate into the Linux kernel project) the recently open-sourced VDO project, which provides a deduplication and compression device mapper layer in the interest of increasing storage efficiency. The following packages are available:
- vdo — Userspace tools for managing VDO volumes
- kvdo — A pair of kernel modules which provide pools of deduplicated and/or compressed block storage
- Brotli — Compression algorithm for data streams using the LZ77 algorithm, Huffman coding and 2nd order context modeling.
- zlib — Compression library implementing the deflate compression method found in gzip and PKZIP.
- Zopfli — High compress ratio file compressor from Google, using a deflate-compatible algorithm called zopfli.