Chapter 15 Archive Files

Table of Contents
15.1 gzip
15.2 bzip2
15.3 tar
15.4 zip

15.1 gzip

gzip(1) is the GNU compression program. It takes a single file and compresses it. The basic usage is as follows:

% gzip filename

The resulting file will be named filename.gz and will usually be smaller than the input file. Note that filename.gz will replace filename. This means that filename will no longer exist, even though a gzipped copy will. Regular text files will compress nicely, while jpeg images, mp3s, and other such files will not compress too well as they are already compressed. This basic usage is a balance of final file size and compression time. The maximum compression can be achieved like so:

% gzip -9 filename

This will take a longer time to compress the file, but the result will be as small as gzip can make it. Using lower values for the command line option will cause it to compress faster, but the file will not be as compressed.

Decompressing gzipped files can be done using two commands, which are really just the same program. gzip will decompress any file with a recognized file extension. A recognized extension can be any of the following: .gz, -gz, .z, -z, .Z, or -Z. The first method is to call gunzip(1) on a file, like so:

% gunzip filename.gz

This will leave a decompressed version of infile in the current directory, and the .gz extension will be stripped from the filename. gunzip is really part of gzip and is identical to gzip -d. As such, gzip is often pronounced gunzip, as that name just sounds cooler. :^)