Skip to content


Subversion checkout URL

You can clone with HTTPS or Subversion.

Download ZIP
Long Range Zip
C C++ Perl Shell

Fetching latest commit…

Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time

Failed to load latest commit information.


lrzip v0.45

Long Range ZIP or Lzma RZIP

This is a compression program optimised for large files. The larger the file
and the more memory you have, the better the compression advantage this will
provide, especially once the files are larger than 100MB. The advantage can
be chosen to be either size (much smaller than bzip2) or speed (much faster
than bzip2).

Quick lowdown of the most used options:

 lrztar directory
This will produce an archive directory.tar.lrz compressed with lzma

 lrztar -d directory.tar.lrz
This will completely extract an archived directory

 lrzip filename
This will produce an archive filename.lrz compressed with lzma (best all
round) giving slow compression and fast decompression

 lrzip -z filename
This will produce an archive filename.lrz compressed with ZPAQ giving extreme
compression but which takes ages to compress and decompress

 lrzip -l filename
This will produce an archive filename.lrz compressed with LZO giving very
fast compression and fast decompression

 lrunzip filename.lrz
This will decompress filename.lrz into filename

Lrzip uses an extended version of rzip which does a first pass long distance
redundancy reduction. The lrzip modifications make it scale according to
memory size.
The data is then either:
1. Compressed by lzma (default) which gives excellent compression
at approximately twice the speed of bzip2 compression
2. Compressed by a number of other compressors chosen for different reasons,
in order of likelihood of usefulness:
2a. ZPAQ: Extreme compression up to 20% smaller than lzma but ultra slow
at compression AND decompression.
2b. LZO: Extremely fast compression and decompression which on most machines
compresses faster than disk writing making it as fast (or even faster) than
simply copying a large file
2c. GZIP: Almost as fast as LZO but with better compression.
2d. BZIP2: A defacto linux standard of sorts but is the middle ground between
lzma and gzip and neither here nor there.
3. Leaving it uncompressed and rzip prepared. This form improves substantially
any compression performed on the resulting file in both size and speed (due to
the nature of rzip preparation merging similar compressible blocks of data and
creating a smaller file). By "improving" I mean it will either speed up the
very slow compressors with minor detriment to compression, or greatly increase
the compression of simple compression algorithms.

The major disadvantages are:
1. The main lrzip application only works on single files so it requires the
lrztar wrapper to fake a complete archiver.
2. It requires a lot of memory to get the best performance out of, and is not
really usable (for compression) with less than 256MB. Decompression requires
less ram and works on smaller ram machines.
3. It works on stdin/out but in a very inefficent manner generating temporary
files on disk so this method of using lrzip is not recommended.

See the file README.benchmarks in doc/ for performance examples and what kind
of data lrzip is very good with.

(nasm on 32bit x86)

To build/install:
make install


Q. How do I make a static build?
A. make static

Q. I want the absolute maximum compression I can possibly get, what do I do?
A. Try the command line options -Mz. This will use all available ram and ZPAQ
compression. Expect serious swapping to occur if your file is larger than your
ram. It may even fail to run if you do not have enough swap space allocated.
Why? Well the more ram lrzip uses the better the compression it can achieve.

Q. Can I use your tool for even more compression than lzma offers?
A. Yes, the rzip preparation of files makes them more compressible by every
other compression technique I have tried. Using the -n option will generate
a .lrz file smaller than the original which should be more compressible, and
since it is smaller it will compress faster than it otherwise would have.

Q. 32bit?
A. 32bit machines have a limit of 2GB sized compression windows due to
userspace limitations on mmap and malloc, so even if you have much more ram
you will not be able to use compression windows larger than 2GB. Also you
will be unable to decompress files compressed on 64bit machines which have
used windows larger than 2GB.

Q. How about 64bit?
A. 64bit machines with their ability to address massive amounts of ram will
excel with lrzip due to being able to use compresion windows limited only in
size by the amount of physical ram.

Q. Other operating systems?
A. Patches are welcome. Version 0.43+ should build on MacOSX 10.5+

Q. Does it work on stdin/stdout?
A. Yes, but the performance of this mode is low because it basically copies
the data to temporary files. Not recommended!

Q. I have another compression format that is even better than zpaq, can you
use that?
A. You can use it yourself on rzip prepared files (see above). Alternatively
if the source code is compatible with the GPL license it can be added to the
lrzip source code. Libraries with functions similar to compress() and
decompress() functions of zlib would make the process most painless. Please
tell me if you have such a library so I can include it :)

Q. What's this "Progress percentage pausing during lzma compression" message?
A. While I'm a big fan of progress percentage being visible, unfortunately
lzma compression can't currently be tracked when handing over 100+MB chunks
over to the lzma library. Therefore you'll see progress percentage until
each chunk is handed over to the lzma library. lzo, bzip2 or no compression
doesn't have this problem and shows progress continuously.

Q. What's this "lzo testing for incompressible data" message?
A. Other compression is much slower, and lzo is the fastest. To help speed up
the process, lzo compression is performed on the data first to test that the
data is at all compressible. If a small block of data is not compressible, it
tests progressively larger blocks until it has tested all the data (if it fails
to compress at all). If no compressible data is found, then the subsequent
compression is not even attempted. This can save a lot of time during the
compression phase when there is incompressible data. Theoretically it may be
possible that data is compressible by the other backend (zpaq, lzma etc) and not
at all by lzo, but in practice such data achieves only miniscule amounts of
compression which are not worth pursuing. Most of the time it is clear one way
or the other that data is compressible or not. If you wish to disable this
test and force it to try compressing it anyway, use -T 0.

Q. I Have truckloads of ram so I can compress files much better, but can my
generated file be decompressed on machines with less ram?
A. Yes. Ram requirements for decompression go up only by the -L compression
option with lzma and are never anywhere near as large as the compression
requirements. However if you're on 64bit and you use a compression window
greater than 2GB, it will NOT be possible to decompress it on 32bit machines.
lrzip will warn you and fail if you try.

Q. I've changed the compression level with -L in combination with -l or -z and
the file size doesn't vary?
A. That's right, -l and -z only has one compression level.

Q. Why are you including bzip2 compression?
A. To maintain a similar compression format to the original rzip (although the
other modes are more useful).

Q. What about multimedia?
A. Most multimedia is already in a heavily compressed "lossy" format which by
its very nature has very little redundancy. This means that there is not
much that can actually be compressed. If your video/audio/picture is in a
high bitrate, there will be more redundancy than a low bitrate one making it
more suitable to compression. None of the compression techniques in lrzip are
optimised for this sort of data. However, the nature of rzip preparation
means that you'll still get better compression than most normal compression
algorithms give you if you have very large files. ISO images of dvds for
example are best compressed directly instead of individual .VOB files. ZPAQ is
the only compression format that can do any significant compression of

Q. Is this multithreaded?
A. As of version 0.21, the answer is yes for lzma compression only thanks to a
multithreaded lzma library. However I have not found the gains to scale well
with number of cpus, but there are definite performance gains with more cpus.
It is important to note that the mulithreading actually decreases the
compression somewhat. It's a tradeoff either way.

Q. This uses heaps of memory, can I make it use less?
A. Well you can by setting -w to the lowest value (1) but the huge use of
memory is what makes the compression better than ordinary compression
programs so it defeats the point. You'll still derive benefit with -w 1 but
not as much.

Q. What CFLAGS should I use?
A. With a recent enough compiler (gcc>4) setting both CFLAGS and CXXFLAGS to
	-O3 -march=native -fomit-frame-pointer

Q. What compiler does this work with?
A. It was been tested on gcc, ekopath and the intel compiler successfully.
Whether the commercial compilers help or not, I could not tell you.

Q. What codebase are you basing this on?
A. rzip v2.1 and lzma sdk907, but it should be possible to stay in sync with
each of these in the future.

Q. Do we really need yet another compression format?
A. It's not really a new one at all; simply a reimplementation of a few very
good performing ones that will scale with memory and file size.

Q. How do you use lrzip yourself?
A. Two basic uses. I compress large files currently on my drive with the
-l option since it is so quick to get a space saving, and when archiving
data for permament storage I compress it with the default options.

Q. I found a file that compressed better with plain lzma. How can that be?
A. When the file is more than 5 times the size of the compression window
you have available, the efficiency of rzip preparation drops off as a means
of getting better compression. Eventually when the file is large enough,
plain lzma compression will get better ratios. The lrzip compression will be
a lot faster though. Currently I have no way around this problem without
throwing more and more ram at the compression because trying to do this off
disk (whether directly on the file or from swap) will mean the file is read
a ridulous number of times over and over again. It presents an interesting
problem for which there is no perfect solution but it certainly has us
thinking hard about how to tackle it.

Q. Can I use swapspace as ram for lrzip with a massive window?
A. No. To make lrzip work completely from disk would make the data be read
off disk an unrealistic number of times over again and again. For example, if
you have 1GB of ram and a 2GB file to compress, it might read the file a
billion times off disk. Most hard drives would fail in that time :) See the
previous question. Update; I have been informed that people have successfully
done this without destroying their hard drives and they've been _very_ patient,
but it didn't take as long as I had predicted.

Q. Why do you nice it to +19 by default? Can I speed up the compression by
changing the nice value?
A. This is a common misconception about what nice values do. They only tell the
cpu process scheduler how to prioritise workloads, and if your application is
the _only_ thing running it will be no faster at nice -20 nor will it be any
slower at +19.

Q. What is the Threshold option, -T ## (1-10)?
A. It is for adjusting the sensitivity of the LZO test that is used when LZMA
compression is selected. When highly random or already-compressed data chunks
are evaluated for LZMA compression, sometimes LZO compression actually will
create a larger chunk than the original.

The Threshold is used to determine a minimum compression amount relative to
the size of the data being evaluated. A value of 1 is the default. This
means that the compression threshold amount is >0% of the size of the
original data. If the threshold is not achieved, the LZMA compression will not
be done and the chunk will not be compressed. Values can be from 0 (bypass the
test) to 10 (maximum compression efficiency expected). The following table can
be used.

For LZO compressor test
T value		Compression %	Compression Ratio
  0		    Ignored
  1		    0-5%	     1.00-1.05	very low compression expected
  2		    5-10%	     1.05-1.10	default value
  3		    10-20%	     1.12-1.25
  4		    20-30%           1.25-1.43
  5		    30-40%	     1.43-1.66
  6		    40-50%           1.66-2.00
  7		    50-60%           2.00-2.50
  8                 60-70%	     2.50-3.33
  9		    70-80%           3.33-5.00
  10                 80+%           5x+

Whenever the data chunk does not compress to the Threshold value, no LZMA
compression will be attempted. For example, if you select -T 5, LZMA
compression will be performed if the projected compression ratio is
less than 1.43. Otherwise, data will be written in rzip format. Setting
a very high T value will result in a lot of uncompressed data in the lrzip
file. However, a lot of time will be saved. For most people you shouldn't ever
need to touch this.

Q. Compression and decompression progress on large archives slows down and
speeds up. There's also a jump in the percentage at the end?
A. Yes, that's the nature of the compression/decompression mechanism. The jump
is because the rzip preparation makes the amount of data much smaller than the
compression backend (lzma) needs to compress.

Q. Tell me about patented compression algorithms, GPL, lawyers and copyright.
A. No

Q. I receive an error "LZMA ERROR: 2. Try a smaller compression window."
   what does this mean?
A. LZMA requests large amounts of memory. When a higher compression window is
   used, there may not be enough contiguous memory for LZMA. LZMA may request
   up to 25% of TOTAL ram depending on compression level. If contiguous blocks
   of memory are not free, LZMA will return an error. This is not a fatal
   error. However, the current Stream will not be compressed.

Q. Where can I get more information about the internals of LZMA?
A. See and Also, see the file
   ./lzma/C/lzmalib.h which explains the LZMA properties used and the LZMA
   memory requirements and computation.

Due to mmap limitations the maximum size a window can be set to is currently
2GB on 32bit. Files generated on 64 bit machines with windows >2GB in size
will not be decompressible on 32bit machines.

Probably lots.


Thanks to Andrew Tridgell for rzip. Thanks to Markus Oberhumer for lzo.
Thanks to Igor Pavlov for lzma. Thanks to Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler
for the zlib compression library. Thanks to Christian Leber for lzma
compat layer, Michael J Cohen for Darwin support, Lasse Collin for fix
to LZMALib.cpp and for suggestions, and everyone else who coded
along the way. Huge thanks to Peter Hyman for most of the 0.19-0.24 changes,
and the update to the multithreaded lzma library and all sorts of other
features. Thanks to René Rhéaume for fixing executable stacks and
Ed Avis for write permissions. Thanks to Matt Mahoney for zpaq code. Thanks to
Jukka Laurila for Darwin support. Thanks to George Makrydakis for lrztar.

Con Kolivas <>
Thursday, Wed, 30 Dec 2009

Also documented by
Peter Hyman <>
Sun, 04 Jan 2009
Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.