Apr 102013

As first thing a small lesson about what’s ZFS:

ZFS is a combined file system and logical volume manager designed by Sun Microsystems. The features of ZFS include protection against data corruption, support for high storage capacities, integration of the concepts of filesystem and volume management, snapshots and copy-on-write clones, continuous integrity checking and automatic repair, RAID-Z and native NFSv4 ACLs. ZFS is implemented as open-source software, licensed under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). The ZFS name was registered as a trademark of Oracle until September 20, 2011


And now after more than two years in the experimental stage, the ZFS file system for Linux is ready for widespread use.

Or at least those are the words of developer Brian Behlendorf, who announced version numbered 0.6.1. Brian says that ZFS for Linux is ready for use on a broad base of devices, from desktops to supercomputers.

Native ZFS for Linux is based on Solaris Porting Layer (SPL), which in turn emulates the basic features of Solaris to Linux kernel. Unlike the implementation via FUSE ( Filesystem in userspace ) of ZFS, this native port provides much better performance due to the implementation of the file system as a module in the kernel.

ZFS 0.6.1 for Linux delivers numerous bug fixes, a new page with instructions and support for Linux kernel 3.9, which is still in development.

Source code can be  downloaded from github and compiled  for your own system or you can use the repositories of your distribution (Debian, Fedora, RHEL / CentOS, Ubuntu, Arch, etc.).

In fact to simplify the installation and management of ZFS the ZFS team has prepared repositories for Debian, Fedora, and RHEL/CentOS.

They can be found at the following URLs.

Debian: Add to /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://archive.zfsonlinux.org/debian wheezy main
deb-src deb http://archive.zfsonlinux.org/debian wheezy main

Fedora: See http://zfsonlinux.org/fedora for directions.
rpm http://archive.zfsonlinux.org/fedora/$releasever/$basearch
srpm http://archive.zfsonlinux.org/fedora/$releasever/SRPMS

RHEL/CentOS: See http://zfsonlinux.org/epel for directions.
rpm http://archive.zfsonlinux.org/epel/$releasever/$basearch
spms http://archive.zfsonlinux.org/epel/$releasever/SRPMS

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  8 Responses to “ZFS is ready for your Linux desktop”

  1. What’s the benefit of ZFS over ext* filysystem?

    • Quite a bit. It scales quite a bit larger and is faster in operation overall- the reliability and speed are what’s important to desktop users, rather than scalability. Biggest drawback is the CDDL license they’re required to use with it. It’s incompatible with the GPL- so a distribution can’t really USE this- you have to add it in after the fact yourself when you build up a system and it can’t really be a boot volume filesystem as a result. Btrfs is intended to bring pretty much all of the ZFS ability with a differing filesystem under the GPL license. Shame, really- a respin of it could be wired into a NAS linux distribution like a custom Linkstation firmware and make the thing that much better.

    • Particularly with regards to my linux desktop?

    • Theres a few for a start basically all the numbers are better a quick comparison between ext4 and ZFS

      ext4 ZFS
      Max file size 16 TiB 2^64 B (16 EiB)
      Max num files 2^30 2^48
      Max volume 1 EiB 16 Eib

      OK so those numbers are not really relevent to most people on the desktop (or many server applications), ext4 is more than good enpugh on those fronts but if you need these then ZFS is the only way to go.

      There are some other cool features that ZFS supports as well. storage pools are cool it allows you to adstract way from block devices and create virtual disks over multiple partions even on seperate disks, you can also create redundancy. In many ways it works like RAID but it’s all handled by th FS and can have better performance then SW RAID. It is also more stable and more reliable than ext4 as it supports lots of features to ensure data integrity. There are many other cool features that work over and above that in stock ext4.

      A closer rival is BTRFS but this is still considerd unstable. I have shied away from ZFS in the past as I prefer to have the FS in kernal and use GNU/Linux, I would still not use this not until I have seen that it really is stable. Still a very exciting time for FSs.

    • “What’s the benefit of ZFS over ext* filysystem?”

      Like comparing 16bit real mode to 64bit with virtualization. It just seem “cool” at first, then if you go back, it turns into a necessity.

  2. So many, it is hard to list here.

    Copy On Write is a big one. The fact that all files have 2 copies of there SHA256 checksum means any hardware corruption of files will be picked up, whereas ext* would not. The list goes on…

  3. Nice, but can you boot linux from a zfs filesystem? Sun did it with grub on Solaris x86, so we know it’s possible.

  4. >The fact that all files have 2 copies of there SHA256 checksum means any hardware corruption of files will be picked up,
    > whereas ext* would not.

    ext4 is recently just added checksumming of the metadata

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