Updated: 2022/Sep/29

Please read Privacy Policy. It's for your privacy.

BZIP2(1)                    General Commands Manual                   BZIP2(1)

     bzip2, bunzip2, bzcat, bzip2recover - block-sorting file compressor

     bzip2 [-123456789cdfkLqstVvz] [filename file ...]

     bunzip2 [-fkLVvs] [filename file ...]

     bzcat [-s] [filename file ...]

     bzip2recover filename

     bzip2 compresses files using the Burrows-Wheeler block sorting text
     compression algorithm, and Huffman coding.  Compression is generally
     considerably better than that achieved by more conventional
     LZ77/LZ78-based compressors, and approaches the performance of the PPM
     family of statistical compressors.

     bzcat decompresses files to stdout, and bzip2recover recovers data from
     damaged bzip2 files.

     The command-line options are deliberately very similar to those of
     gzip(1), but they are not identical.

     bzip2 expects a list of file names to accompany the command-line flags.
     Each file is replaced by a compressed version of itself, with the name
     "original_name.bz2".  Each compressed file has the same modification
     date, permissions, and, when possible, ownership as the corresponding
     original, so that these properties can be correctly restored at
     decompression time.  File name handling is naive in the sense that there
     is no mechanism for preserving original file names, permissions,
     ownerships or dates in filesystems which lack these concepts, or have
     serious file name length restrictions, such as MS-DOS.  bzip2 and bunzip2
     will by default not overwrite existing files.  If you want this to
     happen, specify the -f flag.

     If no file names are specified, bzip2 compresses from standard input to
     standard output.  In this case, bzip2 will decline to write compressed
     output to a terminal, as this would be entirely incomprehensible and
     therefore pointless.

     bunzip2 (or bzip2 -d) decompresses all specified files.  Files which were
     not created by bzip2 will be detected and ignored, and a warning issued.
     bzip2 attempts to guess the filename for the decompressed file from that
     of the compressed file as follows:

           filename.bz2     becomes    filename
           filename.bz      becomes    filename
           filename.tbz2    becomes    filename.tar
           filename.tbz     becomes    filename.tar
           anyothername     becomes    anyothername.out

     If the file does not end in one of the recognised endings, .bz2, .bz,
     .tbz2, or .tbz, bzip2 complains that it cannot guess the name of the
     original file, and uses the original name with .out appended.

     As with compression, supplying no filenames causes decompression from
     standard input to standard output.

     bunzip2 will correctly decompress a file which is the concatenation of
     two or more compressed files.  The result is the concatenation of the
     corresponding uncompressed files.  Integrity testing (-t) of concatenated
     compressed files is also supported.

     You can also compress or decompress files to the standard output by
     giving the -c flag.  Multiple files may be compressed and decompressed
     like this.  The resulting outputs are fed sequentially to stdout.
     Compression of multiple files in this manner generates a stream
     containing multiple compressed file representations.  Such a stream can
     be decompressed correctly only by bzip2 version 0.9.0 or later.  Earlier
     versions of bzip2 will stop after decompressing the first file in the

     bzcat (or bzip2 -dc) decompresses all specified files to the standard

     Compression is always performed, even if the compressed file is slightly
     larger than the original.  Files of less than about one hundred bytes
     tend to get larger, since the compression mechanism has a constant
     overhead in the region of 50 bytes.  Random data (including the output of
     most file compressors) is coded at about 8.05 bits per byte, giving an
     expansion of around 0.5%.

     As a self-check for your protection, bzip2 uses 32-bit CRCs to make sure
     that the decompressed version of a file is identical to the original.
     This guards against corruption of the compressed data, and against
     undetected bugs in bzip2 (hopefully very unlikely).  The chances of data
     corruption going undetected is microscopic, about one chance in four
     billion for each file processed.  Be aware, though, that the check occurs
     upon decompression, so it can only tell you that something is wrong.  It
     can't help you recover the original uncompressed data.  You can use
     bzip2recover to try to recover data from damaged files.

     --                   Treats all subsequent arguments as file names, even
                          if they start with a dash.  This is so you can
                          handle files with names beginning with a dash, for
                                bzip2 -- -myfilename.

     -1, --fast           to

     -9, --best           Set the block size to 100 k, 200 k ... 900 k when
                          compressing.  Has no effect when decompressing.  See
                          MEMORY MANAGEMENT below.  The --fast and --best
                          aliases are primarily for GNU gzip(1) compatibility.
                          In particular, --fast doesn't make things
                          significantly faster, and --best merely selects the
                          default behaviour.

     -c, --stdout         Compress or decompress to standard output.

     -d, --decompress     Force decompression.  bzip2, bunzip2, and bzcat are
                          really the same program, and the decision about what
                          actions to take is done on the basis of which name
                          is used.  This flag overrides that mechanism, and
                          forces bzip2 to decompress.

     -f, --force          Force overwrite of output files.  Normally, bzip2
                          will not overwrite existing output files.  Also
                          forces bzip2 to break hard links to files, which it
                          otherwise wouldn't do.

                          bzip2 normally declines to decompress files which
                          don't have the correct magic header bytes.  If
                          forced (-f), however, it will pass such files
                          through unmodified.  This is how GNU gzip(1)

     -k, --keep           Keep (don't delete) input files during compression
                          or decompression.

     -L, --license        Display the license terms and conditions.

     -q, --quiet          Suppress non-essential warning messages.  Messages
                          pertaining to I/O errors and other critical events
                          will not be suppressed.


     --repetitive-best    These flags are redundant in versions 0.9.5 and
                          above.  They provided some coarse control over the
                          behaviour of the sorting algorithm in earlier
                          versions, which was sometimes useful.  0.9.5 and
                          above have an improved algorithm which renders these
                          flags irrelevant.

     -s, --small          Reduce memory usage, for compression, decompression
                          and testing.  Files are decompressed and tested
                          using a modified algorithm which only requires 2.5
                          bytes per block byte.  This means any file can be
                          decompressed in 2300k of memory, albeit at about
                          half the normal speed.  During compression, -s
                          selects a block size of 200k, which limits memory
                          use to around the same figure, at the expense of
                          your compression ratio.  In short, if your machine
                          is low on memory (8 megabytes or less), use -s for
                          everything.  See MEMORY MANAGEMENT below.

     -t, --test           Check integrity of the specified file(s), but don't
                          decompress them.  This really performs a trial
                          decompression and throws away the result.

     -V, --version        Display the software version.

     -v, --verbose        Verbose mode: show the compression ratio for each
                          file processed.  Further -v's increase the verbosity
                          level, spewing out lots of information which is
                          primarily of interest for diagnostic purposes.

     -z, --compress       The complement to Fl d : forces compression,
                          regardless of the invocation name.

     bzip2 compresses large files in blocks.  The block size affects both the
     compression ratio achieved, and the amount of memory needed for
     compression and decompression.  The flags -1 through -9 specify the block
     size to be 100,000 bytes through 900,000 bytes (the default)
     respectively.  At decompression time, the block size used for compression
     is read from the header of the compressed file, and bunzip2 then
     allocates itself just enough memory to decompress the file.  Since block
     sizes are stored in compressed files, it follows that the flags -1 to -9
     are irrelevant to and so ignored during decompression.

     Compression and decompression requirements, in bytes, can be estimated

           Compression:    400k + ( 8 x block size )

           Decompression:  100k + ( 4 x block size ), or 100k + ( 2.5 x block
                           size )
     Larger block sizes give rapidly diminishing marginal returns.  Most of
     the compression comes from the first two or three hundred k of block
     size, a fact worth bearing in mind when using bzip2 on small machines.
     It is also important to appreciate that the decompression memory
     requirement is set at compression time by the choice of block size.

     For files compressed with the default 900k block size, bunzip2 will
     require about 3700 kbytes to decompress.  To support decompression of any
     file on a 4 megabyte machine, bunzip2 has an option to decompress using
     approximately half this amount of memory, about 2300 kbytes.
     Decompression speed is also halved, so you should use this option only
     where necessary.  The relevant flag is -s.

     In general, try and use the largest block size memory constraints allow,
     since that maximises the compression achieved.  Compression and
     decompression speed are virtually unaffected by block size.

     Another significant point applies to files which fit in a single block --
     that means most files you'd encounter using a large block size.  The
     amount of real memory touched is proportional to the size of the file,
     since the file is smaller than a block.  For example, compressing a file
     20,000 bytes long with the flag -9 will cause the compressor to allocate
     around 7600k of memory, but only touch 400k + 20000 * 8 = 560 kbytes of
     it.  Similarly, the decompressor will allocate 3700k but only touch 100k
     + 20000 * 4 = 180 kbytes.

     Here is a table which summarises the maximum memory usage for different
     block sizes.  Also recorded is the total compressed size for 14 files of
     the Calgary Text Compression Corpus totalling 3,141,622 bytes.  This
     column gives some feel for how compression varies with block size.  These
     figures tend to understate the advantage of larger block sizes for larger
     files, since the Corpus is dominated by smaller files.

     Flag   Compression   Decompression   Decompression -s   Corpus size
     -1     1200k         500k            350k               914704
     -2     2000k         900k            600k               877703
     -3     2800k         1300k           850k               860338
     -4     3600k         1700k           1100k              846899
     -5     4400k         2100k           1350k              845160
     -6     5200k         2500k           1600k              838626
     -7     6100k         2900k           1850k              834096
     -8     6800k         3300k           2100k              828642
     -9     7600k         3700k           2350k              828642

     bzip2 compresses files in blocks, usually 900kbytes long.  Each block is
     handled independently.  If a media or transmission error causes a multi-
     block .bz2 file to become damaged, it may be possible to recover data
     from the undamaged blocks in the file.

     The compressed representation of each block is delimited by a 48-bit
     pattern, which makes it possible to find the block boundaries with
     reasonable certainty.  Each block also carries its own 32-bit CRC, so
     damaged blocks can be distinguished from undamaged ones.

     bzip2recover is a simple program whose purpose is to search for blocks in
     .bz2 files, and write each block out into its own .bz2 file.  You can
     then use bzip2 -t to test the integrity of the resulting files, and
     decompress those which are undamaged.

     bzip2recover takes a single argument, the name of the damaged file, and
     writes a number of files "rec00001file.bz2", "rec00002file.bz2", etc.,
     containing the extracted blocks.  The output filenames are designed so
     that the use of wildcards in subsequent processing -- for example,
           bzip2 -dc rec*file.bz2 > recovered_data
     -- processes the files in the correct order.

     bzip2recover should be of most use dealing with large .bz2 files, as
     these will contain many blocks.  It is clearly futile to use it on
     damaged single-block files, since a damaged block cannot be recovered.
     If you wish to minimise any potential data loss through media or
     transmission errors, you might consider compressing with a smaller block

     The sorting phase of compression gathers together similar strings in the
     file.  Because of this, files containing very long runs of repeated
     symbols, like "aabaabaabaab..." (repeated several hundred times) may
     compress more slowly than normal.  Versions 0.9.5 and above fare much
     better than previous versions in this respect.  The ratio between worst-
     case and average-case compression time is in the region of 10:1.  For
     previous versions, this figure was more like 100:1.  You can use the
     -vvvv option to monitor progress in great detail, if you want.

     Decompression speed is unaffected by these phenomena.

     bzip2 usually allocates several megabytes of memory to operate in, and
     then charges all over it in a fairly random fashion.  This means that
     performance, both for compressing and decompressing, is largely
     determined by the speed at which your machine can service cache misses.
     Because of this, small changes to the code to reduce the miss rate have
     been observed to give disproportionately large performance improvements.
     I imagine bzip2 will perform best on machines with very large caches.

     bzip2 will read arguments from the environment variables BZIP2 and BZIP,
     in that order, and will process them before any arguments read from the
     command line.  This gives a convenient way to supply default arguments.

     0 for a normal exit, 1 for environmental problems (file not found,
     invalid flags, I/O errors, etc.), 2 to indicate a corrupt compressed
     file, 3 for an internal consistency error (e.g., bug) which caused bzip2
     to panic.

     Julian Seward <jseward@bzip.org>


     The ideas embodied in bzip2 are due to (at least) the following people:
     Michael Burrows and David Wheeler (for the block sorting transformation),
     David Wheeler (again, for the Huffman coder), Peter Fenwick (for the
     structured coding model in the original bzip, and many refinements), and
     Alistair Moffat, Radford Neal, and Ian Witten (for the arithmetic coder
     in the original bzip).  I am much indebted for their help, support and
     advice.  See the manual in the source distribution for pointers to
     sources of documentation.  Christian von Roques encouraged me to look for
     faster sorting algorithms, so as to speed up compression.  Bela Lubkin
     encouraged me to improve the worst-case compression performance.  Donna
     Robinson XMLised the documentation.  The bz* scripts are derived from
     those of GNU gzip.  Many people sent patches, helped with portability
     problems, lent machines, gave advice and were generally helpful.

     I/O error messages are not as helpful as they could be.  bzip2 tries hard
     to detect I/O errors and exit cleanly, but the details of what the
     problem is sometimes seem rather misleading.

     This manual page pertains to version 1.0.8 of bzip2.  Compressed data
     created by this version is entirely forwards and backwards compatible
     with the previous public releases, versions 0.1pl2, 0.9.0, 0.9.5, 1.0.0,
     1.0.1, 1.0.2 and above, but with the following exception: 0.9.0 and above
     can correctly decompress multiple concatenated compressed files.  0.1pl2
     cannot do this; it will stop after decompressing just the first file in
     the stream.

     bzip2recover versions prior to 1.0.2 used 32-bit integers to represent
     bit positions in compressed files, so they could not handle compressed
     files more than 512 megabytes long.  Versions 1.0.2 and above use 64-bit
     ints on some platforms which support them (GNU supported targets, and
     Windows).  To establish whether or not bzip2recover was built with such a
     limitation, run it without arguments.  In any event you can build
     yourself an unlimited version if you can recompile it with MaybeUInt64
     set to be an unsigned 64-bit integer.

NetBSD 10.99                     July 13, 2019                    NetBSD 10.99