18 Best Free and Open Source Linux Compression Tools

Data compression is the process of storing data in a format that uses less space than the original representation would use. Compressing data can be very useful particularly in the field of communications as it enables devices to transmit or store data in fewer bits. Besides reducing transmission bandwidth, compression increases the amount of information that can be stored on a hard disk drive or other storage device.

There are two main types of compression. Lossy compression is a data encoding method which reduces a file by discarding certain information. When the file is uncompressed, not all of the original information will be recovered. Lossy compression is typically used to compress video, audio and images, as well as internet telephony. The fact that information is lost during compression will often be unnoticeable to most users. Lossy compression techniques are used in all DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and most multimedia available on the internet.

However, lossy compression is not appropriate where the original and the decompression data must be identical. In this situation, the user will need to use lossless compression. This type of compression is employed in compressing software applications, files, and text articles. Lossless compression is also popular in archiving your music. This article focuses on lossless compression tools.

To provide an insight into the quality of software available for Linux, we have compiled a list of 18 best free compression tools. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wishes to maximize their computer and network resources.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart. They are all open source goodness.

Ratings chart

Let’s explore the 18 compression tools. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Compression Tools
LZ4Focused on compression and decompression speed
ZstandardFast compression algorithm, providing high compression ratios
brotliGeneric-purpose lossless compression algorithm
lzopFile compressor favoring speed over compression ratio
pigzParallel implementation of gzip
pixzParallel, indexed xz compressor
gzipProvides the standard GNU file compression utilities
bzip2Freely available, patent free, high-quality data compressor
PBZIP2Parallel implementation of bzip2
BZip3Spiritual successor to BZip2
lrzipAchieve very high compression ratios and speed when used with large files
lbzip2Multi-threaded implementation of bzip2, suited for serial and parallel processing
plzipMassively parallel lossless data compressor
p7zip-zstdp7zip fork with additional codecs and improvements
7-ZipFile archiver with a high compression ratio
ncompressFast, simple LZW file compressor
PXZRuns LZMA compression on multiple cores and processors
crabzLike pigz but written in Rust

XZ Utils has been removed from this roundup following the discovery that the software had a maliciously introduced backdoor.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

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3 years ago

Hi. Thank You for the articles.

IMO, I think the title is a bit misleading. The articles are about compressions/decompression algorithms but from the title one may think they are about archive managers of the like of Engrampa, PeaZip, Xarchiver erc.

Dereka B
Dereka B
3 years ago
Reply to  Gio

Gio, you are wrong, the title of the article is not misleading. Maybe English is not your first language.

Just look at tar, the classic archive manager. It creates archives which aren’t compressed, sure it’s possible to create compressed tar archives, but tar uses bzip2, gzip, compress etc to do the compression.