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Re: Autoconf distributions and xz dependency

From: Russ Allbery
Subject: Re: Autoconf distributions and xz dependency
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2012 16:46:58 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.3 (gnu/linux)

Warren Young <address@hidden> writes:

> I went through both the .Z -> .gz and .gz -> .bz2 transitions.  I recall
> a longer overlap period where major archive sites had everything in both
> the new and previous forms.

At least in my corner of the software world, no .gz -> .bz2 transition
never happened.  I see occasional use of .bz2, but it's a definite

> I don't much care if .gz goes away now, as .Z did before it.  I'd like
> to see a .bz2 option for everything I have to manually untar for at
> least another few years.

.Z went away because of annoying software patent issues at the time, which
was the compelling case for gzip.

Personally, I fail to see a similar compelling case for xz.  It's a much
more complex but nicer and more powerful compression algorithm, sure.  But
there doesn't seem to be any horribly important reason to use it for
typical open source software distributions where the data size is quite
small, as opposed to, say, scientific data sets where the savings could be

I'm planning on looking at it seriously for log compression, where I want
to squeeze GBs (or more) of data into smaller disk, but so far for my own
projects I haven't seen any reason to move off of xz.  My typical
free software distribution is on the order of 200KB to 2MB, at which point
any savings from xz is purely noise and the disruption of switching to
something new that not everyone has readily available seems overriding.

It's fine with me for Autoconf to do whatever the Autoconf maintainers
feel like doing; part of the fun of free software is doing things the way
that you want to do them whether or not other people agree with the logic
of your case.  :)  Or just because it's fun.  I use Debian and have xz and
an appropriate GNU tar readily available and it's all the same to me.  But
I'm fairly unconvinced by the larger argument that free software
developers should move to xz and away from gzip.

Russ Allbery (address@hidden)             <>

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