Updated: November 4, 2020
It would seem that Dedoimedo readers are telepathically interlinked, despite the best cosmic evidence against any such magic. Until we discover a particle that explains the phenomenon, I can only surmise it's coincidence or popular interest that drives my inbox contents. Exemplar de jour: PeaZip archiving utility.
A bunch of folks asked me to review this cross-platform multi-format archiving tool. And if you're wondering what archiving means - ZIP and RAR and TAR and whatnot. Basically, grab a bunch of files and put them into a single envelope AKA archive, which can save space, adds portability, and even security. I'm already a fond user of the likes of 7-Zip and Ark (in Plasma), so let's see what PeaZip can do for us.
Curiously, PeaZip does not seem to be available in most distro archives. There are DEB and RPM version on SourceForge, plus a portable edition - a compiled binary which ought to just run. GTK2 UI, if you care about such details. Grabbed, ran, and encountered some oddities.
First, I tried the tool in Fedora 32 - and noticed visual artifacts - dots that would normally indicate dead pixels, but these were limited to PeaZip. I tried the program in Kubuntu 20.04, and here, I had both the dots as well as miscolored UI elements. I guess the GTK2 theming used for PeaZip simply doesn't agree with the GTK3 or Plasma (Qt5) environments for some reason. But then, while not pretty, we can excuse that if the application actually does the job. So does it?
Add, convert, extract
Well, now let's see how PeaZip behaves. The main UI looks like a file manager, which in essence, it is. Browse to a folder you like, select any number of files, then hit Add. This will open a window where you can choose the archiving algorithm - there are tons available, including TAR, ZIP, 7-ZIP, RAR, and then some. Quite a few, in fact. You can also use the drop-down button to quickly select the desired option.
Furthermore, there are tons of packaging options available. You can select whether to create a new archive, or append to exist ones, whether to create a single volume or split it by size (to fit onto say CD or DVD or specific filesystems), the compression level, and then, there's also encryption - AES-256. This can be quite handy if you want to use your archives as backups for sensitive content, like personal files, which you then intend to store in untrusted locations.
Work in progress
I tried with 7Z first - and encountered problems. The archiving would always finish with an error! Similarly, the test failed! But then, I was able to extract the contents without any problems. The archives were not corrupt in any way. I even tried opening the files with Dolphin, and everything, including the password prompt, worked just fine.
You can inspect errors - the console also gives you the exact command line that was run, so you can repeat the steps (and fully automate them if you like) yourself, but I didn't get anything useful this way.
I tried with some other formats - and there were no errors. Then I tried 7Z without a password, and the archiving process finished successfully. So it would seem, there's a bug in PeaZip. Reading online, there have been such cases before. And while it does not affect the integrity of the archives, the most important thing, it does harm the overall impression.
Another cool option - format conversion. What this actually does - it extracts and then re-packs archives. This can be handy if you need to use your files on systems that don't necessarily support some formats, but you still want to retain your existing archives. Works quite all right - the times are roughly 2x the standard process.
Some other problems and bugs
PeaZip complained about filenames - it couldn't handle the apostrophe character for some reason, and any such file was excluded from archives. This isn't ideal - I've never had such issues with 7-Zip on Windows, for instance. But I believe there's an option to include non-ASCII characters in the archives.
The UI is too pale, and feels simply out of place. I wish PeaZip would have a more consistent look.
Tools, options, command line
PeaZip has a lot of handy extras. You can use a password manager that will automatically, well, manage your different archives. You can also use filters to group files and folders - quite handy for automated tasks. Speaking of automation, for any task you run, you can save the log, so you can then place the command line execution, including all the different flags and whatnot, into scripts. Necessary for hands-off backups.
In the application options, you can tweak how PeaZip behaves, including default archiving settings, format-specific overrides (including 7-Z and non-ASCII symbols in filenames), theming - this didn't really work for me at all, no matter what I selected, the PeaZip UI remained the same. There's definitely more to PeaZip than meets the eye, so you have to be patient and diligent to make good use of all the different aspects of the program.
PeaZip is a rather nice archiving program. It works well - overall - and comes with some neat options and extras. It supports a wide range of formats, which is a bonus if you have to work with odd and arcane files sent by friends and colleagues. You can quickly automate and script tasks, as every job log is available. Conversion is also a nice bonus.
But then, there were niggles - the fact I couldn't archive every single filename, the self-check issue with password-protected 7z archives, the inability to change themes, and the weird default looks. The application does the job, but there's no reason why any of these bugs should be present. They will deter ordinary users and annoy advanced ones. If you're looking for something to zip and rar and tar and whatnot your files, then PeaZip is a good choice. I hope the problems can be ironed out, and ideally, the UI will be refreshed. Not because we need new and modern, because the ergonomics are somewhat off. Anyway, rather recommended if ever so slightly rough. Take care, zip away.