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I have created zlib-compressed data in Python, like this:

import zlib
s = '...'
z = zlib.compress(s)
with open('/tmp/data', 'w') as f:

(or one-liner in shell: echo -n '...' | python2 -c 'import sys,zlib; sys.stdout.write(zlib.compress(sys.stdin.read()))' > /tmp/data)

Now, I want to uncompress the data in shell. Neither zcat nor uncompress work:

$ cat /tmp/data | gzip -d -
gzip: stdin: not in gzip format

$ zcat /tmp/data 
gzip: /tmp/data.gz: not in gzip format

$ cat /tmp/data | uncompress -
gzip: stdin: not in gzip format

It seems that i have created gzip-like file, but without any headers.. unfortunately i don's see any option to uncompress such raw data in gzip man page.. and zlib package does not contain any executable utility..

Is there an utility to uncompress raw zlib data?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 18 '11 at 8:48

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

There are many additional answers here: stackoverflow.com/questions/3178566/deflate-command-line-tool –  Jack O'Connor Jan 24 '14 at 22:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 26 down vote accepted

It is also possible to decompress it using standard shell script + gzip. The trick is to prepend the gzip magic number and compress method (see http://www.onicos.com/staff/iz/formats/gzip.html) to the actual data:

printf "\x1f\x8b\x08\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00" |cat - zlib.raw |gzip -dc
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.. only if one has that zlib.raw :) –  mykhal Sep 25 '12 at 11:36
which package is that utility from? –  mykhal Sep 25 '12 at 12:22
@mykhal I'm pretty sure zlib.raw in that example is your compressed file. –  derobert Sep 25 '12 at 16:36
@derobert oops, sure :) i was seeing additional |, which isn't there.. –  mykhal Sep 25 '12 at 18:02
Of all the weird Linux shit I've seen over the years, I think this one just about takes the cake! –  g33kz0r Jan 26 at 16:33

I have found a solution (one of the possible ones), it's using openssl:

$ openssl zlib -d < /tmp/data

*NOTE: zlib functionality is apparently available in recent openssl versions >=1.0.0 (OpenSSL has to be configured/built with zlib or zlib-dynamic option, the latter is default)

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On Debian Squeeze (which has OpenSSL 0.9.8) there is zlib-flate in the qpdf package. It can be used like zlib-flate -uncompress < FILE. –  Tino Sep 16 '12 at 14:09
zlib got removed from the latest versions of OpenSSL so this tip is is very helpful @Tino –  Alexandr Kurilin Dec 2 '14 at 10:59

zlib implements the compression used by gzip, but not the file format. Instead, you should use the gzip module, which itself uses zlib.

import gzip
s = '...'
with gzip.open('/tmp/data', 'w') as f:
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ok, but my situation is that i have tens/hundreds thousands of those files created, so.. :) –  mykhal Sep 20 '11 at 22:14
so... your files are incomplete. Perhaps you'll have to uncompress them with zlib and recompress them with gzip, if you don't still have the original data. –  Greg Hewgill Sep 20 '11 at 22:18
@mykhal, why did you create ten/hundred thousands of files before checking that you could actually uncompress them? –  Harpyon Sep 20 '11 at 22:19
harpyon, i can uncompress them, i just wonder which less or more common urility or zgip settings can be used for that, if i don't want to do it in python again –  mykhal Sep 20 '11 at 22:47

This might do it:

import glob
import zlib
import sys

for filename in sys.argv:
    with open(filename, 'r') as compressed:
        with open(filename + "-decompressed', 'w') as expanded:
        data = zlib.decompress(compressed.read())
$ python expander.py data/*
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thanks, i know about zlib.decompress. probably i'd use some walk function. i'm not sure if shell would handle my huge amount of files with glob wildcard :) –  mykhal Sep 20 '11 at 22:28

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