fatal: zlib inflate problem: invalid distance code

João Grilo joao.grilo at gmail.com
Wed Jan 2 12:13:26 CET 2008


Recently, I was asked to backup and archive a ton of sensitive data, so I
used gpg keep it away from evil eyes.

Now, trying to recover it on a different machine, it fails with the
following error:
debian:~# gpg mybigbackupfile.tar.gz.gpg
gpg: CAST5 encrypted data
gpg: encrypted with 1 passphrase
-- correct password is typed --
gpg: fatal: zlib inflate problem: invalid distance code
secmem usage: 2048/2240 bytes in 4/5 blocks of pool 2240/32768

I have no clue, since I have tried pretty much everything (including
installing the same operating system on the machine where I need to decipher
the data, using the "$ gpg < bigfile.gpg > bigfile" syntax and so on). The
error keeps showing up, and always stalls after processing the same amount
of data (aproximately 27 gigabytes).

The weirdest part is that decrypting the data on the same machine it was
encrypted works perfectly. I have tried to replicate the environment exactly
(apart from a few packages which will probably be different, but this is
debian stable branch anyways). The only "big" difference, is the hardware,
but even the architecture is the same, the cpu is exactly alike.

On the machine where the compression+encryption were done:
Debian Etch Beta 4
Zlib Version: 1:1.2.3-13
Gnupg Version: 1.4.6-2

On the machine where the decompression+decryption is being done (and
Debian Etch RC1
Zlib Version: 1:1.2.3-13
Gnupg Version: 1.4.6-2

Note that these are all amd64 binaries. The size of "mybigbackupfile" is
aproximately 105 gigabytes.

If I can provide any additional information that can be useful to trace the
problem down, don't hesitate to ask.

Apart from the request "how to recover this file", I'd also like to ask if
there are any measures I could take in the future to ensure this does not
happen again.

Thank you in advance,
Joao Marques
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