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Snapshots Support For EXT4 File-System

Linux Kernel

Published on 08 June 2011 11:48 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
2 Comments

The Btrfs file-system has various "shiny" features like support for copy-on-write snapshots, cloning, transactions, sub-volumes, SSD optimizations, transparent LZO/Zlib compression, and many other advanced features by Linux file-system standards. The problem with Btrfs is that the next-generation file-system is still in development and hasn't yet been proven via years of use and testing yet as being a stable and reliable solution. Most Linux distributions continue using the EXT4 file-system by default, but now there may be snapshot support coming back to EXT4.

Amir Goldstein at CTERA, a NAS device company, has been working on EXT4 snapshot support as they wish to have this feature for their network-attached storage units but aren't interested in yet deploying Btrfs for its copy-on-write snapshots. Amir has been working on this support for some time, and just yesterday sent out a fresh set of 36 patches that add this experimental support to the EXT4 file-system.

The set of 36 patches from yesterday can be found on the EXT4 mailing list. The latest EXT4 snapshot patches are developed on GitHub.

Obviously the work is too late to land for the Linux 3.0 kernel. It's possible that snapshots for EXT4 may be ready by the Linux 3.1 kernel, but there's still no 64-bit support and some of the EXT4 developers are concerned about this feature. Developers want to be certain that nothing regresses in terms of non-snapshot code-paths for EXT4. There's this message thread with some discussion due to these patches touching some critical EXT4 code-paths.

In justifying the performance of EXT4 with snapshots, Amir even uses the Phoronix Test Suite with Phoronix Global results he made (from this message). He should upgrade though to Phoronix Test Suite 3.0/3.2 in order to take advantage of OpenBenchmarking.org.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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