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Snzip, a compression/decompression tool based on snappy.

What is snzip.

Snzip is one of command line tools using snappy. This supports several file formats; framing-format, old framing-format, hadoop-snappy format, raw format and obsolete three formats used by snzip, snappy-java and snappy-in-java before official framing-format was defined. The default format is framing-format.

Notable Changes

The default format was changed to framing-format in 1.0.0. Set --with-default-format=snzip as a configure option to use obsolete snzip format as the default format as before.


Install from a tar-ball

Download snzip-1.0.5.tar.gz from, uncompress and untar it, and run configure.

tar xvfz snzip-1.0.5.tar.gz
cd snzip-1.0.5
make install

If you didn't install snappy under /usr or /usr/local, you need to specify the location by --with-snappy as follows.

# install snzip
tar xvfz snzip-1.0.5.tar.gz
cd snzip-1.0.5
./configure --with-snappy=/xxx/yyy/
make install

When both dynamic and static snappy libraries are available, the former is used by default. The compiled snzip depends on When --with-static-snappy is passed as a configure option, the latter is used. The compiled snzip includes snappy library.

Note: --with-static-snappy isn't available on some platforms.

You can use --with-default-format to change the default compression format.

./configure --with-default-format=snzip

Install as a rpm package

We don't provide rpm packages. You need to download snzip-1.0.5.tar.gz from, create a rpm package as follows and install it.

# The rpm package will be created under $HOME/rpmbuild/RPMS.
rpmbuild -tb snzip-1.0.5.tar.gz 

Install from the latest source

To use source code in the github repository.

git clone git://
cd snzip
make install

Install a Windows package.

Download or from and copy snzip.exe and snunzip.exe to a directory in the PATH environment variable.


To compress file.tar:

snzip file.tar

Compressed file name is and the original file is deleted. The file attributes such as timestamp, mode and permissions are not changed as possible as it can.

The compressed file's format is framing-format. You need to add an option -t snappy-java or -t snappy-in-java to use other formats.

snzip -t snappy-java file.tar


snzip -t snappy-in-java file.tar

To compress file.tar and output to standard out.

snzip -c file.tar >


cat file.tar | snzip >

You need to add an option -t [format-name] to use formats except framing-format.

To create a new tar file and compress it.

tar cf - files-to-be-archived | snzip >

To uncompress

snzip -d



Uncompressed file name is file.tar and the original file is deleted. The file attributes such as timestamp, mode and permissions are not changed as possible as it can.

If the program name includes un such as snunzip, it acts as -d is set.

The file format is automatically determined from the file header. However it doesn't work for some file formats such as raw and Apple iWork .iwa.

To uncompress and output to standard out.

snzip -dc > file.tar
snunzip -c > file.tar
snzcat > file.tar
cat | snzcat > file.tar

If the program name includes cat such as snzcat, it acts as -dc is set.

To uncompress a tar file and extract it.

snzip -dc | tar xf -

Raw format

Raw format is native format of snappy. Unlike other formats, there are a few limitations: (1) The total data length before compression must be known on compression. (2) Automatic file format detection doesn't work on uncompression. (3) The raw format support is enabled only when snzip is compiled for snappy 1.1.3 or upper.

To compress file.tar as raw format:

snzip -t raw file.tar


snzip -t raw < file.tar > file.tar.raw

In these examples, snzip uses a file descriptor, which directly opens the file.tar file, and gets the file length to be compressed. However the following command doesn't work.

cat file.tar | snzip -t raw > file.tar.raw

It uses a pipe. snzip cannot get the total length before compression. The total length must be specified by the -s option in this case.

cat file.tar | snzip -t raw -s "size of file.tar" > file.tar.raw

To uncompress compressed as raw format

snzip -t raw -d


snunzip -t raw

You need to set the -t raw option to tell snzip the format of the file to be uncompressed.

Hadoop-snappy format

Hadoop-snappy format is one of the compression formats used in Hadoop. It uses its own framing format as follows:

  • A compressed file consists of one or more blocks.
  • A block consists of uncompressed length (big endian 4 byte integer) and one or more subblocks.
  • A subblock consists of compressed length (big endian 4 byte integer) and raw compressed data.

To compress a file as hadoop-snappy format

snzip -t hadoop-snappy file_name

The default block size used by snzip for hadoop-snappy format is 256k. It is same with the default value of the io.compression.codec.snappy.buffersize parameter. If the block size used by snzip is larger than the parameter, you would get an InternalError Could not decompress data. Buffer length is too small while hadoop is reading a file compressed by snzip. You need to change the block size by the -b option as follows if you get the error.

# if  io.compression.codec.snappy.buffersize is 32768
snzip -t hadoop-snappy -b 32768 file_name_to_be_compressed

To uncompress a file compressed as haddoop-snappy format

snzip -d compressed_file.snappy

The file format is guessed by the first 8 bytes of the file.

Apple iWork .iwa format

Apple iWork .iwa format is a file format used by Apple iWork. The format was demystified here. Basically the .iwa format consists of a Protobuf stream compressed by Snappy.

Snzip uncompresses .iwa files to Protbuf streams and compresses Protobuf streams to .iwa files. You need to set -t iwa on compression and uncompression to specify the file format.

SNZ File format

Note: This is obsolete format. The default format was changed to framing-format.

The first three bytes are magic characters 'SNZ'.

The fourth byte is the file format version. It is 0x01.

The fifth byte is the order of the block size. The input data is divided into fixed-length blocks and each block is compressed by snappy. When it is 16 (default value), the block size is 16th power of 2; 64 kilobytes.

The rest is pairs of a compressed data length and a compressed data block The compressed data length is encoded as snappy::Varint::Encode32() does. If the length is zero, it is the end of data.

Though the rest after the end of data is ignored for now, they may be continuously read as a next compressed file as gzip does.

Note that the uncompressed length of each compressed data block must be less than or equal to the block size specified by the fifth byte.


2-clause BSD-style license.