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The only reason to pre-compile chunks, really, is because you'vestripped the parser out of your lua vm. byte code is less portable,harder to deal with (as you've found), and not really faster to load

I disagree. In my experience loading compiled chunks is (much) faster than loading source code.

In some quick tests I did with Lua 5.2 (debug-stripped) compiled code can load up to 4 times faster than non-compiled code.

With the debug info not stripped out, loading compiled code is a bit slower. But, again, it's still noticeably faster than loading regular scripts.