Top File Compression Tools for Linux

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File compression is still the best way to send a huge bunch of photos to your dearest friend. It is one of the most important operations on almost every operating system, and is, therefore, inundated with a barrage of apps concerning it. On Windows too, file compression comes built-in, and so does on Linux. That said, the default compression method isn't always the best one, and even if it is, there are people who are looking to trying out new tools for the same operation.

For file compression on Linux, as on Windows and Mac, there is no dearth of applications, both closed source and open source, which you can try for free. So, whether you're looking to pack hundreds of photos in a nice zipped file and send it to your friend, or you’re trying to save some valuable space on your disk, there are a lot of nice compression tools you can choose from on Linux. Here’s a list of all the best ones in that genre:


Released in 1997, bzip2 is one of the most common file compression tools for Linux. Though not as fast as other titles on the list, the open-source tool is known for its errorless compression and patent-free nature. Furthermore, thanks to its recovery capabilities, bzip2 can also decompress files that are slightly damaged. One great thing about bzip2 is that since it uses POSIX threads it parallelizes the compression process, a thing that makes it work well with many multi-core processors. Since it’s a command line tool, and a very old one, it’s highly unlikely that you won’t find it pre-installed on your favorite Linux distribution.


Part of the KDE suite, Ark is a popular archiving utility used for zipping up tar, gzip, bzip2, rar and zip files. Once installed, you can browse, create, extract, and modify archives. The latest stable release is 2.17 and is licensed under GPL v2. Neatly integrated with Dolphin, KDE’s default file manager, Ark proves to be a convenient and simple file archiver for Linux.


7-zip is an open-source file compression utility that’s quite popular on Windows. Also available for Linux, the file archiver supports formats like 7z, XZ, Bzip2, gzip, tar, zip, and more. For unpacking files, even more formats are supported including the ones like arj, cab, dmg, ntfs, rar, rpm, and more. Licensed under GPL, 7-Zip comes with support for strong AES-256 encryption in 7Z and zip formats. Their 7Z format offers the highest compression ratio, and is thus used by many users to compress big files.


PeaZip is a free, cross-platform file archiver that presents a unified GUI for other compression tools like 7-zip, FreeArc, PAQ, and more. Once installed, you can create 7Z, ARC, BZ2, GZ, ZIP, RAR and many other types of archive. Also, PeaZip supports extraction of over 130 archive types. Furthermore, the free tool can extract, create, and convert multiple archives at once, create self-extracting archives, split or join files, and do much more. For the security-conscious, it includes support for two-factor authentication, encrypted password manager, secure deletion and many other features.


If you’re moving from Windows to Linux, you might, more often than not, come across files packed in RAR packages. Now, WinRAR, the tool with which you create RAR files is not available for Linux, as yet, and there’s a dearth of any promising alternatives for the proprietary tool. RAR is a software that fills in that need, and makes unzipping and zipping .rar files a breeze. Though free to try, RAR is a shareware, and you’d need to register it after 40 days of use. That fallacy apart, the tool is actually quite good because not only does it work well with RAR files, it also serves as a good archiver for zip files.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

1 comment

  1. AnonymousMay 25, 2012

    Don't forget PIGZ "Pig-Zee". Parallelized gzip is very fast and very useful.