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Chapter 10. Common Unix Shell Commands: ... > File Compression and Archiving

File Compression and Archiving

As in the Macintosh world, a number of standards have arisen in the Unix world for compressing and archiving files. Unlike the Mac world, however, these programs don't tend to be do-all programs such as StuffIt that can archive, compress, password-protect, and perform a wealth of other useful file archive functions. Following the Unix tradition, software that compresses files mostly just compresses files. Software that collects many files together into a single-file archive mostly just collects many files together into a single-file archive. There are a few exceptions, and some more recent (and some would say misguided) implementations of Unix utilities try to stuff everything but the kitchen sink into their functionality. Primarily though, functions are kept usefully separated into distinct commands and their functionality combined when needed. Even the programs that can do both collection/archiving and compression tend to be used for only one of the functions, with something else appropriate used for the other. For example, the functions of file collection and file compression are used together to collect files into an archive (uncompressed) using one program, and then subsequently something else is used to compress the files into a compressed archive. Likewise, the analogous procedure to “UnStuffIting” a file traditionally requires two steps in Unix because decompression of the archive and unpacking of its contents are two separate steps.

TIP

For those looking for a more seamless solution than the Unix way, take heart. The newer versions of BSD's tar program also include compression/decompression facilities. It's not an awfully Unix-like way to do things, but if you insist on the convenience, we won't hold it against you.



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