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"Installation": make, then put the binary somewhere in your path. Reads from a file (or stdin), and writes to a new sparse file, replacing any nulls with actual holes. Usage: sparsify [infile] <outfile> If only one argument is provided, it is assumed to be the output file, and input will be read from stdin. Known issues: - Code is ugly. I don't do C much. - Seems to use a lot more CPU than it should. Increase the buffer size? - Obviously, requires the underlying FS to support sparse files. Use case: I had a VMWare raw disk image, which I assumed was mostly air, but was preallocated nonetheless (presumably full of nulls). I needed that space back, but I wanted it to still be a "flat" image, so that (hopefully) qemu-img will be able to work with it. After some quick tests with tar -S (which failed miserably), and some searching for similar tools, I hacked this together. That's about the only place it's appropriate. Examples of places you probably should NOT use this would be the output from a tool like ntfsclone -- it knows how to create sparse files, and if it can't touch the actual file to perform the seeks itself, you should probably use the "special" format anyway.