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What is the Future of Linux File Systems?

written by: Michael Dougherty•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 9/30/2011

Speed, reliability and an extensive set of features are what the ZFS file system has to offer you. Is the file system created by Sun Microsystems and then ported to Linux the future of Linux file systems?

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    The ZFS File System 

    ZFS is a combined file system and logical volume manager. ZFS was designed by and is a trademark of Sun Microsystems. The most notable features of the ZFS file system are its continuous integrity checks and repairs, high storage capacity, snapshots, copy-on-write clones, and the fact that it's open-source software.

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    Linux and ZFS

    ZFS was designed and implemented by Sun Microsystems in September of 2004. Over the next couple of years Sun Microsystems started to integrate the ZFS source code into Solaris and OpenSolaris. ZFS is licensed under Sun's Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) which has caused some very interesting problems with integrating ZFS into Linux. Linux is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and while both licenses are open-source they are not compatible.

    My assumption is that Sun licensed ZFS under their CDDL in an attempt to save Solaris. I think their fear was that should the ZFS file system become available in Linux, any users who use Solaris mainly for access to the ZFS features would jump ship and start using Linux. In the end I don't think this or any other measures will save the Solaris OS (Operating System).

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    A Linux Port of ZFS?

    Linux users are, in general, an intelligent group of people. You specifically try to block the use of an open-source file system in their operating system of choice and they WILL find a way around it. Especially when it comes to a file system that is being billed as the "most advanced file system in the world". In comes the FUSE implementation of the ZFS file system. The ZFS for Linux project makes it possible to create, mount, use and manage ZFS file systems under Linux. There you go ... one of the many Linux geeks creating a work around that enables the Linux world to enjoy the reliability and huge feature set of the ZFS file system.

    You can research, download and use the ZFS for Linux port of Sun's ZFS file system by visiting the ZFS for Linux homepage. The project seems fairly active and they give you the option to install ZFS using pre-compiled binary files or build the ZFS file system from source. There are packages available for both .deb and .rpm based Linux distributions.

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    ZFS: The Future of File Systems?

    With ZFS's extensive set of features and its unparalleled reliability, it may very well become the de facto Linux file system over time. Currently ZFS is best implemented on large servers and backup drives, however in the end, should the ZFS for Linux project continue their work on the Linux port, you may see ZFS offered in many Linux distributions. Linux geeks are not going to miss out on a file system billed "The Most Advanced File System Ever Invented," I can promise you that.

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