Gzip vs. Bzip2 vs. LZMA

gzip is very fast and has small memory footprint. According to this benchmark, neither bzip2 nor lzma can compete with gzip in terms of speed or memory usage. bzip2 has notably better compression ratio than gzip, which has to be the reason for the popularity of bzip2; it is slower than gzip especially in decompression and uses more memory. However the memory requirements of bzip2 should be nowadays no problem even on older hardware.

Both gzip and bzip2 are bundled with practically all GNU/*/Linux distributions and *BSDs. Because everybody has the tools to handle gzip and bzip2 compressed files, they are by far the most commonly used formats to distribute e.g. source code of free software. However, the situation might change because better free (as in freedom) alternatives have become available.

LZMA clearly has potential to become the third commonly used general purporse compression format on *NIX systems. It mainly competes with bzip2 by offering significantly better compression ratio while still keeping decompressing speed relatively close to that of gzip.

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