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Given e.g. a gzipped textfile file.txt.gz, how to create a special file file.txt that on reading yields the (interactively) decompressed contents of the .gz file, and on writing a) re-gzips the new content or b) denies write-access?

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Is there something wrong with just using zcat? – jordanm Jan 14 '13 at 16:42
@jordanm gzip was just an example, next time it could be tar or an entirely different program that (transparently) converts (one-way or two-way) between two data formats – Tobias Kienzler Jan 14 '13 at 17:20
May I ask what you are trying to achieve by doing this, perhaps there's a simpler solution for your problem without the need of these special files. – David Kohen Jan 14 '13 at 17:30
@DavidKohen In general? A transparent data conversion tool one output of which other programs can simply treat as files. I guess FUSE is the best choice here indeed – Tobias Kienzler Jan 14 '13 at 17:46
That's what pipes are made for, though this may be an interesting FUSE file system. – David Kohen Jan 15 '13 at 13:03
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Under Linux (or FreeBSD, NetBSD, MacOS X) FUSE comes to mind, it already features some Archive File Systems, that you should have a look at.

If the FUSE-mounted virtual file system just passes through non-archive-files, this could be what you want.

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Yes, FUSE sounds like it can do it, though I wonder if one can mount to a file instead of a directory containing a dummy file (if the example's archive contains only compressed data) – Tobias Kienzler Jan 14 '13 at 17:25
If you are talking about a few files, you may be able to do something like this with softlinks (so it'll be files and not directories) and FUSE, of you are talking many (100+) I think you need to go elsewhere. – David Kohen Jan 14 '13 at 17:28
@DavidKohen Good point. It would only be a couple of files, so an alias that mounts to a mktemp directory and softlinking would suffice indeed – Tobias Kienzler Jan 14 '13 at 17:33
As it doesn't seem completely unrelated, I'd like to point out that some filesystems (among them Btrfs, Reiser4 and ZFS) support (per-filesystem) transparent compression – sr_ Jan 15 '13 at 7:33

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