display Huffman packed files on standard output 



pcat file ...


pcat uncompresses argument files which were compressed by pack using a Huffman minimal redundancy code. The uncompressed data is sent to the standard output. This is handy for packed text files, but inappropriate for binary files, since the standard output is treated as a text stream. Binary files can be decoded in place by unpack.

The names of compressed input files are expected to end in .z. If a specified input file name does not end in this suffix, pcat automatically adds the .z; for example, if the command line specifies file abc, pcat looks for abc.z. Ifabc.z is not found, abc (with no extension) is used.


Possible exit status values are:


Successful completion.


Indicates that n files could not be unpacked properly. For example, if three out of six files could not be packed properly, the exit status is 3. Possible reasons for failure include:

— unknown command line option
— error creating a name for a temporary file
— error opening an input file or a temporary file
— error writing to a temporary file
— inability to rename a temporary file
— inability to restore the modification time on a packed file
— input file was not packed

file: Not a packed file 

The file was not processed by pack.

Other messages, about inaccessibility of files and so on, are self-explanatory. The exit status is the number of file arguments which could not be processed.


x/OPEN Portability Guide 4.0. UNIX System V. Windows 8.1. Windows Server 2012 R2. Windows 10. Windows Server 2016. Windows Server 2019. Windows 11. Windows Server 2022.

Any file packed on a Windows system can be unpacked on UNIX systems, and vice versa.


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cat, file, pack, unpack

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