Although the performance isn't perfect yet phar is alive - personally I'd like to see this implemented right in php instead of as a pear class...but that's just me.
alternatively, a php5.1 version of this that implements itself as a stream wrapper and autoregisters itself as a stream on inclusion might be a better way of handling it - I know pear is really trying to stay "this works in php4" but that's one reason everyone is whining about USING php5 - "pear stuff isn't compliant yet"
Stream wrappers can even be used for manipulating directory stuff and doing stat stuff in php5 (is_dir, mkdir, et al), and 5.1 has this nifty context stuff which can keep all the information for the stream around :) then use a stream filter for any compression :)
Voila, much easier to use version
Yeah yeah, most of pear "works", just not with E_STRICT on - I want stuff running with E_STRICT, I don't CARE if there are two versions of the class exactly the same with only var changed to public, I don't want to have to change my error reporting every time I want to run a pear class