Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
One of the great holy grails of the compression world has been to get the smallest possible file using the best possible performance. To date, that's been a bit like grasping for a wisp of smoke and hoping to get something. The most common formats used around the world today are: Rar, Zip, Tar, Gzip, Bzip and the new kid on the block, the open source wonder, 7zip.
Not many new users to Linux know about many of these formats, so I'll give you a brief overview of them to bring you up to speed on how each performs. Of all the formats, Tar is the oldest. It was born originally as a format for storing backups on tape drive. It was later followed by Gzip, zip, rar, Bzip and then 7zip. Of these formats, Rar and Zip are proprietary, while Tar, Gzip, Bzip and 7zip are all open source.