bzcat - Unix, Linux Command
bzip2, bunzip2 - a block-sorting file compressor, v1.0.3
bzcat - decompresses files to stdout
bzip2recover - recovers data from damaged bzip2 files
bzip2 [ -cdfkqstvzVL123456789 ] [
filenames ... ]
bunzip2 [ -fkvsVL ] [
filenames ... ]
bzcat [ -s ] [
filenames ... ]
bzip2 compresses files using the Burrows-Wheeler block sorting
text compression algorithm, and Huffman coding. Compression is
generally considerably better than that achieved by more conventional
LZ77/LZ78-based compressors, and approaches the performance of the PPM
family of statistical compressors.
The command-line options are deliberately very similar to
GNU gzip, but they are not identical.
bzip2 expects a list of file names to accompany the
command-line flags. Each file is replaced by a compressed version of
itself, with the name "original_name.bz2".
Each compressed file
has the same modification date, permissions, and, when possible,
ownership as the corresponding original, so that these properties can
be correctly restored at decompression time. File name handling is
naive in the sense that there is no mechanism for preserving original
file names, permissions, ownerships or dates in filesystems which lack
these concepts, or have serious file name length restrictions, such as
bunzip2 will by default not overwrite existing
files. If you want this to happen, specify the -f flag.
If no file names are specified,
bzip2 compresses from standard
input to standard output. In this case,
bzip2 will decline to
write compressed output to a terminal, as this would be entirely
incomprehensible and therefore pointless.
bzip2 -d) decompresses all
specified files. Files which were not created by
bzip2 will be detected and ignored, and a warning issued.
bzip2 attempts to guess the filename for the decompressed file
from that of the compressed file as follows:
filename.bz2 becomes filename
filename.bz becomes filename
filename.tbz2 becomes filename.tar
filename.tbz becomes filename.tar
anyothername becomes anyothername.out
If the file does not end in one of the recognised endings,
.bz2, .bz, .tbz2 or
.tbz, bzip2 complains that it cannot
guess the name of the original file, and uses the original name
As with compression, supplying no
filenames causes decompression from
standard input to standard output.
bunzip2 will correctly decompress a file which is the
concatenation of two or more compressed files. The result is the
concatenation of the corresponding uncompressed files. Integrity
compressed files is also supported.
You can also compress or decompress files to the standard output by
giving the -c flag. Multiple files may be compressed and
decompressed like this. The resulting outputs are fed sequentially to
stdout. Compression of multiple files
in this manner generates a stream
containing multiple compressed file representations. Such a stream
can be decompressed correctly only by
bzip2 version 0.9.0 or
later. Earlier versions of
bzip2 will stop after decompressing
the first file in the stream.
bzip2 -dc) decompresses all specified files to
the standard output.
bzip2 will read arguments from the environment variables
BZIP, in that order, and will process them
before any arguments read from the command line. This gives a
convenient way to supply default arguments.
Compression is always performed, even if the compressed
file is slightly
larger than the original. Files of less than about one hundred bytes
tend to get larger, since the compression mechanism has a constant
overhead in the region of 50 bytes. Random data (including the output
of most file compressors) is coded at about 8.05 bits per byte, giving
an expansion of around 0.5%.
As a self-check for your protection,
uses 32-bit CRCs to
make sure that the decompressed version of a file is identical to the
original. This guards against corruption of the compressed data, and
against undetected bugs in
bzip2 (hopefully very unlikely). The
chances of data corruption going undetected is microscopic, about one
chance in four billion for each file processed. Be aware, though, that
the check occurs upon decompression, so it can only tell you that
something is wrong. It cant help you
recover the original uncompressed
data. You can use
bzip2recover to try to recover data from
Return values: 0 for a normal exit, 1 for environmental problems (file
not found, invalid flags, I/O errors, &c), 2 to indicate a corrupt
compressed file, 3 for an internal consistency error (eg, bug) which
bzip2 to panic.
-c --stdout |
Compress or decompress to standard output.
-d --decompress |
bzip2, bunzip2 and
really the same program, and the decision about what actions to take is
done on the basis of which name is used. This flag overrides that
mechanism, and forces
bzip2 to decompress.
-z --compress |
The complement to -d: forces compression, regardless of the
-t --test |
Check integrity of the specified file(s), but dont decompress them.
This really performs a trial decompression and throws away the result.
-f --force |
Force overwrite of output files. Normally,
bzip2 will not overwrite
existing output files. Also forces
bzip2 to break hard links
to files, which it otherwise wouldnt do.
bzip2 normally declines to decompress files which dont have the
correct magic header bytes. If forced (-f), however, it will pass
such files through unmodified. This is how GNU gzip behaves.
-k --keep |
Keep (dont delete) input files during compression
-s --small |
Reduce memory usage, for compression, decompression and testing. Files
are decompressed and tested using a modified algorithm which only
requires 2.5 bytes per block byte. This means any file can be
decompressed in 2300k of memory, albeit at about half the normal speed.
During compression, -s selects a block size of 200k, which limits
memory use to around the same figure, at the expense of your compression
ratio. In short, if your machine is low on memory (8 megabytes or
less), use -s for everything. See MEMORY MANAGEMENT below.
-q --quiet |
Suppress non-essential warning messages. Messages pertaining to
I/O errors and other critical events will not be suppressed.
-v --verbose |
Verbose mode -- show the compression ratio for each file processed.
Further -vs increase the verbosity level, spewing out lots of
information which is primarily of interest for diagnostic purposes.
-L --license -V --version |
Display the software version, license terms and conditions.
-1 (or --fast) to -9 (or --best) |
Set the block size to 100 k, 200 k .. 900 k when compressing. Has no
effect when decompressing. See MEMORY MANAGEMENT below.
The --fast and --best aliases are primarily for GNU gzip
compatibility. In particular, --fast doesnt make things
And --best merely selects the default behaviour.
Treats all subsequent arguments as file names, even if they start
with a dash. This is so you can handle files with names beginning
with a dash, for example: bzip2 -- -myfilename.
--repetitive-fast --repetitive-best |
These flags are redundant in versions 0.9.5 and above. They provided
some coarse control over the behaviour of the sorting algorithm in
earlier versions, which was sometimes useful. 0.9.5 and above have an
improved algorithm which renders these flags irrelevant.
bzip2 compresses large files in blocks. The block size affects
both the compression ratio achieved, and the amount of memory needed for
compression and decompression. The flags -1 through -9
specify the block size to be 100,000 bytes through 900,000 bytes (the
default) respectively. At decompression time, the block size used for
compression is read from the header of the compressed file, and
bunzip2 then allocates itself just enough memory to decompress
the file. Since block sizes are stored in compressed files, it follows
that the flags -1 to -9 are irrelevant to and so ignored
Compression and decompression requirements,
in bytes, can be estimated as:
Compression: 400k + ( 8 x block size )
Decompression: 100k + ( 4 x block size ), or
100k + ( 2.5 x block size )
Larger block sizes give rapidly diminishing marginal returns. Most of
the compression comes from the first two or three hundred k of block
size, a fact worth bearing in mind when using
bzip2 on small machines.
It is also important to appreciate that the decompression memory
requirement is set at compression time by the choice of block size.
For files compressed with the default 900k block size,
bunzip2 will require about 3700 kbytes to decompress. To support decompression
of any file on a 4 megabyte machine,
bunzip2 has an option to
decompress using approximately half this amount of memory, about 2300
kbytes. Decompression speed is also halved, so you should use this
option only where necessary. The relevant flag is -s.
In general, try and use the largest block size memory constraints allow,
since that maximises the compression achieved. Compression and
decompression speed are virtually unaffected by block size.
Another significant point applies to files which fit in a single block
-- that means most files youd encounter using a large block size. The
amount of real memory touched is proportional to the size of the file,
since the file is smaller than a block. For example, compressing a file
20,000 bytes long with the flag -9 will cause the compressor to
allocate around 7600k of memory, but only touch 400k + 20000 * 8 = 560
kbytes of it. Similarly, the decompressor will allocate 3700k but only
touch 100k + 20000 * 4 = 180 kbytes.
Here is a table which summarises the maximum memory usage for different
block sizes. Also recorded is the total compressed size for 14 files of
the Calgary Text Compression Corpus totalling 3,141,622 bytes. This
column gives some feel for how compression varies with block size.
These figures tend to understate the advantage of larger block sizes for
larger files, since the Corpus is dominated by smaller files.
Compress Decompress Decompress Corpus
Flag usage usage -s usage Size
-1 1200k 500k 350k 914704
-2 2000k 900k 600k 877703
-3 2800k 1300k 850k 860338
-4 3600k 1700k 1100k 846899
-5 4400k 2100k 1350k 845160
-6 5200k 2500k 1600k 838626
-7 6100k 2900k 1850k 834096
-8 6800k 3300k 2100k 828642
-9 7600k 3700k 2350k 828642
RECOVERING DATA FROM DAMAGED FILES
bzip2 compresses files in blocks, usually 900kbytes long. Each
block is handled independently. If a media or transmission error causes
a multi-block .bz2
file to become damaged, it may be possible to
recover data from the undamaged blocks in the file.
The compressed representation of each block is delimited by a 48-bit
pattern, which makes it possible to find the block boundaries with
reasonable certainty. Each block also carries its own 32-bit CRC, so
damaged blocks can be distinguished from undamaged ones.
bzip2recover is a simple program whose purpose is to search for
blocks in .bz2 files, and write each block out into its own .bz2
file. You can then use
to test the
integrity of the resulting files, and decompress those which are
bzip2recover takes a single argument, the name of the damaged file,
and writes a number of files "rec00001file.bz2",
"rec00002file.bz2", etc, containing the extracted blocks.
The output filenames are designed so that the use of
wildcards in subsequent processing -- for example,
"bzip2 -dc rec*file.bz2 > recovered_data" -- processes the files in
the correct order.
bzip2recover should be of most use dealing with large .bz2
files, as these will contain many blocks. It is clearly
futile to use it on damaged single-block files, since a
damaged block cannot be recovered. If you wish to minimise
any potential data loss through media or transmission errors,
you might consider compressing with a smaller
The sorting phase of compression gathers together similar strings in the
file. Because of this, files containing very long runs of repeated
symbols, like "aabaabaabaab ..." (repeated several hundred times) may
compress more slowly than normal. Versions 0.9.5 and above fare much
better than previous versions in this respect. The ratio between
worst-case and average-case compression time is in the region of 10:1.
For previous versions, this figure was more like 100:1. You can use the
-vvvv option to monitor progress in great detail, if you want.
Decompression speed is unaffected by these phenomena.
bzip2 usually allocates several megabytes of memory to operate
in, and then charges all over it in a fairly random fashion. This means
that performance, both for compressing and decompressing, is largely
determined by the speed at which your machine can service cache misses.
Because of this, small changes to the code to reduce the miss rate have
been observed to give disproportionately large performance improvements.
bzip2 will perform best on machines with very large caches.
I/O error messages are not as helpful as they could be.
bzip2 tries hard to detect I/O errors and exit cleanly, but the details of
what the problem is sometimes seem rather misleading.
This manual page pertains to version 1.0.3 of
bzip2. Compressed data created by this version is entirely forwards and
backwards compatible with the previous public releases, versions
0.1pl2, 0.9.0, 0.9.5, 1.0.0, 1.0.1 and 1.0.2, but with the following
exception: 0.9.0 and above can correctly decompress multiple
concatenated compressed files. 0.1pl2 cannot do this; it will stop
after decompressing just the first file in the stream.
bzip2recover versions prior to 1.0.2 used 32-bit integers to represent
bit positions in compressed files, so they could not handle compressed
files more than 512 megabytes long. Versions 1.0.2 and above use
64-bit ints on some platforms which support them (GNU supported
targets, and Windows). To establish whether or not bzip2recover was
built with such a limitation, run it without arguments. In any event
you can build yourself an unlimited version if you can recompile it
with MaybeUInt64 set to be an unsigned 64-bit integer.
Julian Seward, jsewardbzip.org.
The ideas embodied in
bzip2 are due to (at least) the following
people: Michael Burrows and David Wheeler (for the block sorting
transformation), David Wheeler (again, for the Huffman coder), Peter
Fenwick (for the structured coding model in the original
bzip, and many refinements), and Alistair Moffat, Radford Neal and Ian Witten
(for the arithmetic coder in the original
bzip). I am much
indebted for their help, support and advice. See the manual in the
source distribution for pointers to sources of documentation. Christian
von Roques encouraged me to look for faster sorting algorithms, so as to
speed up compression. Bela Lubkin encouraged me to improve the
worst-case compression performance.
Donna Robinson XMLised the documentation.
The bz* scripts are derived from those of GNU gzip.
Many people sent patches, helped
with portability problems, lent machines, gave advice and were generally