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LZMA and XZ Binaries

Update August 2011: Official Windows XZ binaries are now provided at the official website so I am no longer offering them here.

Previously I had predicted that LZMA tarballs were the future. I'd like to make a slight correction to this: XZ tarballs are the future! LZMA has actually already been supplanted by the newer LZMA2 algorithm, which is most directly accessed with the xz tool from XZ Utils. So look out for .tar.xz in the future.

Right now I believe that XZ will get you the smallest compression of any general purpose compressor (at a large memory cost). When combined with tar it even beats out 7z.

Like all productive computer activity on the Windows platform, dealing with LZMA or XZ tarballs is needlessly difficult in Windows. Archive software, such as 7-zip, doesn't seem to handle them directly yet. They can read the underlying tar layer but the compression layer seems to be opaque. 7-zip actually uses the LZMA and LZMA2 algorithms internally, so it's 99% of the way there. They just never did the last step. Update: the beta version of 7-zip can read these archives.

So here's where the above executable, provided for your convenience, comes in: xz.exe was cross-compiled in Debian GNU/Linux using the MinGW compiler suite, and it can perform both compression and decompression on both XZ and LZMA. You can use these to pull out the tar archive so that it can be accessed using the regular tools. Or you can use it to make your own highly compact archives.

tags: [ compression ]
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