A Quick Review of Popular Linux Compression Utilities

14-Jan-2021 Like this? Dislike this? Let me know

I have been using gzip for ... well, forever. It's practically muscle memory at this point. Many utils (and emacs) recognize the magic bytes at the start of the file and will automatically decompress before doing what they need to do, a classic example being tar tvf myfile.tar.gz.

Having done some experimenting recently, it turns out that the popular compressors have different output file performance and size characteristics. This is not a surprise but in some cases the difference is significant enough to warrant choosing one vs. the other. In particular, the pbzip2 util seems to be not part of the standard install on some images yet it appears to outperform regular bzip, gzip, and zip.

The Setup