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Chapter 3. Unix Basics for Mac OS X > Archive & Compression Utilities

Archive & Compression Utilities

Long before utilities such as StuffIt existed—long before the Mac existed, in fact!—Unix users could group files together into archives and compress the archives to take up less disk space, which was vastly more expensive then. Unix offers several archiving and compression tools:

  • tar (short for tape archive) was originally used to combine a collection of files into a single file, which was written to tape. But you don’t have to write the file to tape; you can write it to any device your Unix system knows about: disks, tapes, CD-RWs, even the Terminal.

  • compress and uncompress do what you probably expect them to: compress and expand files. Text files are very compressible, sometimes 10 to 1. Files that have already been compressed such as JPEG and MPEG files and QuickTime movies, however, can actually become larger.

  • gzip is a newer set of utilities that are like compress and uncompress on steroids. gzip includes more options and offers better compression ratios.


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