Tool to compress and run programs using dwarfs
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A tool to convert an AppDir or an existing AppImage file, either as a local file or from a URL, into a highly compressed portable image using dwarfs.

This is a small script and the bulk of the work is in the original dwarfs project, so all credit deserves to go there. This script has not been extensively tested so I cannot guarantee it will function without issue.


In order to create the images, you will need:

  • dwarfs, specifically mkdwarfs
    • This may in turn require further dependencies, and specifically relies on the presence of FUSE for mounting images.
    • dwarfsck and dwarfsextract also allow for converting existing dwarfs images and updating the header of existing appdwarfs
  • squashfs-tools for AppImage conversion
  • zstd for creating or running zzexe files

If you only wish to run an existing appdwarf, only dwarfs is needed in PATH.

How to create an appdwarf

appdwarf can take both AppImage files and extracted AppDirs as input. If a file or folder is not found, appdwarf will also accept direct URLs to AppImages, links or names to GitHub repos with AppImages in their releases page, or names of programs that meet the GitHub criteria on AppImageHub. Any files that are found but are not AppImages will be compressed using zzexe.

The apps folder contains other scripts for specific programs that will download all necessary files and create a resulting appdwarf in the bin subfolder.


zzexe is a small tool similar to gzexe that instead uses zstd to compress single applications. I've included it because it has a similar goal to appdwarf on the whole, just on a smaller scale.

I wrote it in part because I felt that gzexe was overly complicated, as I had been using lightly modified version of it that replaces gzip with zstd, and to add a couple additional features:

  • supports adding in a prefix command to the file using the -p option
    • e.g. zzexe -p wine some.exe will generate a compressed file that will then run the exe with wine
  • automatically appends the extension of the source file to the temporary file created when ran since some programs care about that, such as an emulator only running games of an expected file extension.

As of June 2022, zzexe has been integrated into the main appdwarf script. I have implemented a heuristic that should automatically detect regular files and run zzexe on them, however you can directly invoke it with the -z option.