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 Compressed files

Compressed files are useful because they take less space on your hard disk. Another advantage is that it takes less bandwidth to send a compressed file over your network. A lot of files, such as the man pages, are stored in a compressed format on your system. Yet unpacking these to get a little bit of information and then having to compress them again is rather time-consuming. You don't want to unpack a man page, for instance, read about an option to a command and then compress the man page again. Most people will probably forget to clean up after they found the information they needed.

So we have tools that work on compressed files, by uncompressing them only in memory. The actual compressed file stays on your disk as it is. Most systems support zgrep, zcat, bzless and such to prevent unnecessary decompressing/compressing actions. See your system's binary directory and the Info pages.

See Chapter 9 for more on the actual compressing of files and examples on making archives.

Introducing Linux
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