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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  BESTFIT (1)


bestfit - Optimally choose files to be put on a CD (or other media)




bestfit [OPTION]... FILE... [-e COMMAND...]


This manual page document describes the bestfit command. Bestfit is a small program to determine which files that should be put on a CD (or other media), so that as little space as possible is wasted. It is very easy to use: you specify files on the command line, and bestfit prints the names of those that were selected. Alternatively, bestfit can execute a command for each selected file (e.g. to move them to a different directory).

This problem is also known as the 0-1 knapsack problem. The algorithm implemented by bestfit solves instances of it optimally in theta(n*W) time, where n is number of files to choose between and W the amount of free space. This may sound bad but since W is number of blocks and not bytes, this algorithm is not that inefficient. Try it yourself and see.

Due to the nature of this algorithm, bestfit uses a lot of memory - approximately 1.5M per file specified on command line. As long as you have enough swap space, this is usually not a problem since bestfit doesn’t use all at the same time.

Bestfit does (at this time) not use any external program such as mkisofs or mkhybrid to calculate the size of files. Instead the file and directory sizes and rounded up towards the nearest 2048-byte multiple and added together. (2048 bytes is the block size on ISO images.)

Bestfit can not account for all oddities with ISO images (for instance, there are multiple path tables, padding, etc which is not easy to calculate), therefore exact results can not always be produced. Bestfit may waste more space than necessary, or even tell you that files that won’t fit actually fits. (I consider the latter to be a bug though. If you encounter it, please mail me.) In other words, manually selecting files and checking that they fit using mkisofs may in some cases give you better results than using bestfit.


These programs follow the usual GNU command line syntax, with long options starting with two dashes (‘-’). A summary of options is included below.
-8, --80min
  Space is that of an empty 80 min CD. This is the default.
-7, --74min
  Space is that of an empty 74 min CD.
-d, --dirs-only
  Ignore all non-directory arguments. (This is useful when including files using wildcard/glob patterns.)
-s, --space=BLOCKS
  The maximum amount of space allowed to use, in blocks.
-r, --reserve=BLOCKS
  The number of blocks to reserve (usually 200 by default). This value is simple substracted from the space value before the algorithm is started.
-e, --execute COMMAND...
  Execute a command for each selected file, instead of printing the name on screen. All following arguments after --execute (or -e) are taken to be arguments to the command to execute for each selected file. The string ‘{}’ is replaced by the current file name being processed, and can be used multiple times.

If --invert is used as well as --execute, the command is executed for files that weren’t selected instead.

-i, --invert
  Print names of those files that weren’t selected (i.e. did not fitting) instead.
-v, --verbose
  Explain what is being done.
-q, --quiet
  Output no diagnostic/information messages. (Error messages are still printed.)
-h, --help Show summary of options.
-v, --version
  Output version information and exit.


Assume we want burn the following directories on a CD:

/store/dir1   40M
/store/dir2   67M
/store/dir3   38M
/store/dir4   112M
/store/dir5   130M
/store/dir6   82M
/store/dir7   240M
/store/dir8   56M
/store/dir9   94M

These files won’t fit on an 80 min CD so we need to burn them on two. We can have bestfit determine which files to burn on the first CD:

$ bestfit /store/dir*
used 357888 of 439808 blocks (699.0M of 859.0M)
wasted 1912 of 359800 blocks (3.7M of 702.7M)

Now maybe we want to move these files to another directory. bestfit can do this too:

$ bestfit /store/dir* -e mv -i {} /store/to-burn/
used 357888 of 439808 blocks (699.0M of 859.0M)
wasted 1912 of 359800 blocks (3.7M of 702.7M)
$ ls /store/to-burn/foo

The -i option was added to make move interactive, so that we won’t overwrite files by mistake. Note that we don’t need to terminate bestfit’s options using --, because -e stops bestfit from reading further options.


bestfit was written by Oskar Liljeblad <>.
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--> BESTFIT (1) April 23, 2001

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