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Run ZFS on Linux

Jan 24, 2011, 21:04 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by M. Tim Jones)

"Linux has an interesting relationship with file systems. Because Linux is open, it tends to be a key development platform both for next-generation file systems and for new, innovative file system ideas. Two interesting recent examples include the massively scalable Ceph and the continuous snapshotting file system nilfs2 (and of course, evolutions in workhorse file systems such as the fourth extended file system [ext4]). It's also an archaeological site for file systems of the past—DOS VFAT, Macintosh(HPFS), VMS ODS-2, and Plan-9's remote file system protocol. But with all of the file systems you'll find supported within Linux, there's one that generates considerable interest because of the features it implements: Oracle's Zettabyte File System (ZFS).

"The ZFS was designed and developed by Sun Microsystems (under Jeff Bonwick) and was first announced in 2004, with integration into Sun Solaris occurring in 2005). Although pairing the most popular open operating system with the most talked-about, feature-rich file system would be an ideal match, licensing issues have restricted the integration. Linux is protected by the GNU General Public License (GPL), while ZFS is covered by Sun's Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). These license agreements have different goals and introduce restrictions that conflict. Fortunately, that doesn't mean that you as a Linux user can't enjoy ZFS and the capabilities it provides.

"This article explores two methods for using ZFS in Linux. The first uses the Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) system to push the ZFS file system into user space to avoid the licensing issues. The second method is a native port of ZFS for integration into the Linux kernel while avoiding the intellectual property issues."

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