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Archiving Formats

Traditionally, GNUish archives are made using Rahul Dhesi's zoo archiver. This archive format is popular and portable, used in many places, notably for the Usenet `comp.binaries.ibm.pc' exchange group. The GNUish project selected it because it works on OS/2, DOS, and UNIX, and all the sources are freely available. Moreover, it offers a nice user interface and is dependable.

Some people wanted GNUish to use zip for its better compression, but zip was proprietary software at that time. A new version of zoo (version 2.1) offers a higher compression rate, comparable to what zip can achieve. About at the same time, the Info-ZIP group produced a zip program available in source form, and which works on OS/2, DOS, and UNIX. There are no more big reasons for using one instead of another.

Also, some sites converted all of GNUish to ARC or LHarc format. Instead of feeding an archivers war, let us simply hope that each archive site will follow the GNU spirit and at least offer the free archiver they use, both in executable and complete source form.

The current maintainer has been urged by several of the major sites to use zip for all files in the collection, and to keep archive names in the "8+3" lower-case format (filenames within a zip archive are not subject to such restrictions). Some files remain in other formats, but eventually all will be converted.

Most packages consists of two archives, one for the complete source and documentation, the other for the executable and data files; however, it happens that the documentation is sometimes provided with the executables. The filename for a package archive is often selected according to the following pattern:

program version edition sequence.extension

In this syntax, program is a short string to identify the product, e.g. `futi' indicates GNU file utilities; while version is a decimal integer naming the version, without any decimal point, v.g. `14' for 1.4, `358' for 3.58; edition is `a' for the first release in GNUish, then `b', `c', etc., for subsequent editions. The value of sequence is the letter `s' for the source and documentation, or `x' for executable and data files. When extension is `zoo', this usually refers to Zoo version 2.1. The `tgz' extension is shorthand for `tar.gz', and both gzip (see section gzip) and tar (see section tar) will be required to "un-tgz."

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