Zipping Files on Linux: The Many Variations and How to Use Them

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Some of us have been zipping files on Unix and Linux systems for many decades — to save some disk space and package files together for archiving. Even so, there are some interesting variations on zipping that not all of us have tried. So, in this post, we’re going to look at standard zipping and unzipping as well as some other interesting zipping options.

The basic zip command

First, let’s look at the basic zip command. It uses what is essentially the same compression algorithm as gzip, but there are a couple important differences. For one thing, the gzip command is used only for compressing a single file where zip can both compress files and join them together into an archive. For another, the gzip command zips “in place”. In other words, it leaves a compressed file — not the original file alongside the compressed copy. Here’s an example of gzip at work:

$ gzip onefile
$ ls -l
-rw-rw-r-- 1 shs shs 10514 Jan 15 13:13 onefile.gz

And here’s zip. Notice how this command requires that a name be provided for the zipped archive where gzip simply uses the original file name and adds the .gz extension.

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