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Shnatsel, member of the elementary OS team, has recently stumbled upon a benchmark of free Linux compression utilities and the code that generates it. There were some issues with the script so he fixed it and here are the results:

- Compression:

Linux Compression benchmark

"This is a comparison of popular compression formats by how many nanoseconds it takes to compress each format. The horizontal scale shows tens of kilobytes." Obviously, less is better and it looks like lzop is really fast, but the other results are pretty interesting too.

- Decompression:

Linux decompression benchmark
(less is better)

Once again, lzop is the fastest with lzma on the second place. Yes, the colors are a bit confusing, sorry about that.

If you want to try this out for yourself, you'll find the script code here: compression | decompression

Also, if you want to use the scripts above, make sure you install all the required packages:
sudo apt-get install gnuplot bzip2 lzma xz-utils gzip lzip lzop lrzip

Oh, and if you have any suggestions on how to improve the script, leave a comment below!

Thanks to Shnatsel for the benchmarks; via Wikipedia (compression | decompression)