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lha - Man Page

compression tool for .lzh archive files.


lha [-]{lvtxep[q{num}][finv]}[w=<dir>] archive_file [file ...]


lha is a tool for extracting .lzh archive files. It also supports variants of the .lzh archive, such as .lzs and .pma.

This version of the lha tool is part of Lhasa, a free implementation of the .lzh format.

Command Syntax

The lha tool has an unusual command syntax, compared to most other Unix commands. The first parameter to the program specifies the command to perform and all additional options. The second parameter specifies the path to the archive file to operate on. Following this is a list of wildcard patterns to match against the filenames of the archived files.

The first character of the command parameter specifies the command to perform, which is one of the following:


List contents of the specified archive.


Verbosely list contents of the specified archive.


Test the integrity of the specified archive: decompress its contents and check the CRC.

-e or -x

Extract archive. Files are extracted to the current working directory unless the 'w' option is specified.


Extract archive, sending decompressed files to stdout rather than writing them to the filesystem as actual files. This is useful when used as part of a shell pipeline.


The remainder of the command parameter is used to specify additional options:


Quiet mode. Higher numbers suppress more output. Level 0 is normal operation. If no number is specified, full suppression (level 2) is used. The quiet option also turns on the force overwrite option ('f').


Force overwrite of existing files: do not prompt.


Ignore paths of archived files: extract all archived files to the same directory, ignoring subdirectories.


Do not perform any actual operations: instead, perform a dry run of the requested operation and describe what would have been done on standard output.


Verbose mode: causes extra information to be written to standard output.


Specify destination directory for extracting files. This must be the last option of the first parameter.

Compression Formats

The following gives some basic description of the various different supported compression formats (as listed when using the list command documented above). All formats are variants on the LZSS compression algorithm.


Uncompressed (stored) data, as used by the original LArc tool. This is not related to the LZ4 compression algorithm of the same name.

-lz5-,  -lzs-

Compression formats introduced with the original LArc tool. -lzs- uses a 2KiB sliding window while -lz5- uses a 4KiB window.


Directory entry. No data is stored, only headers.


Uncompressed (stored) data, as used in LHarc and LHa.


Compression algorithm introduced with LHarc. This uses a 4KiB sliding window with dynamic Huffman encoding.

-lh4-,  -lh5-,  -lh6-,  -lh7-

New algorithm introduced with LHa (aka LHarc v2.0). The original versions (-lh4- and -lh5-) used 8KiB and 16KiB sliding window sizes, respectively. Later versions introduced new variants with larger window sizes: -lh6- (64KiB) and -lh7- (128KiB).


Variant on the -lh4- format listed above introduced by UNLHA32.dll that extends the window size to 1MiB.


Variant on the -lh4- format listed above that was introduced by the LHark tool (a fork of LHa). This is actually named -lh7- within the archive files, but Lhasa renames it internally to avoid clashing with the other algorithm of the same name. Uses a 128KiB sliding window, with some minor improvement to the algorithm.


Uncompressed (stored) data, as used by the PMarc tool.


Algorithm used by version 1 of the PMarc tool.


Algorithm used by version 2 of the PMarc tool.

Unsupported Formats

The following formats are not currently supported by Lhasa (but possibly will be in the future):

-lh2-,  -lh3-

These formats can be decompressed by LHa v2.0 but the tool could not actually generate archives with these formats; they appear to have only been supported in beta versions before the v2.0 release. As a result, few if any examples exist in the wild.

-lh8-,  -lh9-,  -lha-,  -lhb-,  -lhc-,  -lhe-

Extensions of the -lh4- format to even larger window sizes.


Format generated by the PopCom! compression utility for CP/M.

If you encounter examples of these in the wild, please get in touch.


Here are some examples for how to invoke the program:

lha -v foobar.lzs

List the contents of the file foobar.lzs (producing verbose output).

lha -xf foobar.exe

Extract the contents of a self-extracting archive file named foobar.exe to the current directory, overwriting existing files with the same names if they exist.

lha -xqw=/tmp foobar.lzh

Extract the contents of foobar.lzh to /tmp, overwriting any existing files found there, and suppressing normal output (similar to how other Unix tools such as cp(1) or tar(1) act silently by default).

See Also

unzip(1), tar(1), gzip(1), bzip2(1), xz(1), lzip(1)


The .lzh format originated with Kazuhiko Miki's MS-DOS archive tool, LArc, using the LZSS algorithm developed by Haruhiko Okumura, and the .lzs filename extension. The container format was reused for LHarc, by Haruyasu Yoshizaki (Yoshi), which used a new algorithm named LZHUF and the .lzh extension. In later versions, LHarc was renamed to LHA and extended with more effective compression algorithms.

Versions of the LHA tool were later ported to various different operating systems, including the Amiga, Atari, MacOS, OS/2 and Unix. A tool for MSX-DOS named PMarc reused the container format with a new compression algorithm (.pma extension).

The Unix version of the tool was developed by Masaru Oki, Nobutaka Watazaki and Tsugio Okamoto, but was released under a software license that does not conform to the Free Software or Open Source Definitions. Lhasa was developed as a drop-in replacement that is Free Software and Open Source.


The current version does not allow the creation of new archive files.

Some obscure compression algorithms are not currently supported (see the Unsupported Formats section above).

The tool does not currently do text format conversion for non-ASCII filenames when listing the contents of archives. Non-ASCII characters are replaced by a question mark.


Lhasa was written and is maintained by Simon Howard.

Referenced By