ppmd, also in Debian had better compression than lzma. PAQ8i has even
better compression, but isn't in Debian. See the maximumcompression web
site or other archive comparison tests.
The pace of compression algorithm development is high enough that I'd
suggest that the bar be placed quite high before switching to a new
compression format that's not reverse compatible.
For those interested, I'm working on publishing a proof of concept that
can make most tarballs compress better. About 2-3% better in my tests
with bzip2/gzip on the Linux kernel source code.
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