Compression is an excellent way to save space and is more elegant than using larger and larger hard disks or faster methods of data transmission. MIT’s Media Lab does a great deal of work on newer and more efficient methods of compression for this very reason. We’ve run several articles on compression in the past, most notably DiskDoubler for the Mac and Expanz! for PC-clones. Another program has appeared on the PC that helps compress files, executable programs in this case. Called LZEXE.EXE, the program removes extraneous space from programs, thus shrinking them somewhat and allowing them to load faster. The rest of the program execution speed is of course unaffected. LZEXE.EXE is available from BBS’s near you or from the main PC file archive at simtel20.army.mil via anonymous FTP.
We have not yet had a chance to try this particular package, but several similar ones exist for the Atari ST, which has an operating system relatively like MS-DOS. We found that these programs worked in all but one instance, and none of the programs which were compressed have ever given problems after the fact. So it seems that if a program works at all after being compressed like this, it will likely be fine. Some programs will undoubtedly resist being compressed however.
Interestingly enough, nothing like this program has shown up for the Mac. Even if individual users didn’t use it, companies like Aldus could shrink PageMaker significantly before shipping it. Microsoft may in fact do something like this since StuffIt is unable to compress Word 4.0 by more than a few percent, whereas it can usually compress programs up to about 30%. One possibility is that the Mac file format with data and resource forks does not lend itself to compression as well as the simpler PC and Atari file formats.
InfoWorld — 25-Jun-90, Vol. 12, #26, pg. 90