Compressing distribution tarballs for release with xz

Mike Massonnet mmassonnet at
Mon Aug 9 08:28:08 CEST 2010

2010/8/8 Nick Schermer <nickschermer at>:
> I wonder if this is a big improvement. Even if for example the
> tarballs are, say, 40% smaller. The biggest tarball (4mb from thunar i
> think, but a lot smaller for the rest of the packages) will be 1 or
> 2mb smaller, do we care about that?

Why not make the step now. A month ago I was dubious, but I changed my
mind to "I don't care" and I will simply do xz compression from now on
for my personal data. Making xz tarballs works with the -J parameter

Finally, here is a straight example of a fat_tarball:

  $  ls -1sh xfce-4.6.2.tar.*
23M xfce-4.6.2.tar.bz2
15M xfce-4.6.2.tar.xz  ->  23% smaller

and this actually allows the Xfce team to show off the whole desktop
always smaller :p Reducing the time to download remains an important
aspect as well, a few people might care.

> And how portable is xz, because a
> lot of people tend to run recent versions of Xfce on old distros.

That I had like to answer. In fact either old distros manage to
package the software (e.g. backports) and they do a manual conversion
from xz to zipfoo, or the user has to install xz. Compiling xz doesn't
pull extravagant dependencies at all, liblzma and libc are the only
linked libraries. Plus the authors argue that it is very portable, and
even compiles for not-so-POSIX systems like Windows :)

To quote them from their website: “XZ Utils is free general-purpose
data compression software with high compression ratio. XZ Utils were
written for POSIX-like systems (GNU/Linux, *BSDs, etc.), but also work
on some not-so-POSIX systems like Windows. XZ Utils are the successor
to LZMA Utils.”

> Nick


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