Google Admin Encourages Trying Btrfs, Not ZFS On Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Storage on 20 January 2015 at 01:01 PM EST. 20 Comments
Last year at LinuxCon a Google administrator was talking up Btrfs and encouraging attendees to try it. That Google admin, Marc Merlin, traveled down to New Zealand last week for LCA2015 to further promote the Btrfs file-system.

Marc Merlin's presentation at Linux.Conf.Au 2015 was entitled "Why you should consider using Btrfs, real COW snapshots, and file level incremental OS upgrades." The talk was much like the one last August at LinuxCon Chicago where he was trumpeting Btrfs. Aside from openSUSE beginning to ship with Btrfs by default, most Linux distributions still tend to be EXT4/XFS based and leaving Btrfs as just an experimental install-time option. In fact, CoreOS switched away from Btrfs to EXT4+OverlayFS. Whether or not this next-generation Linux file-system is ready for production use remains a very controversial topic.

Merlin promotes Btrfs for its copy-on-write abilities, built-in snapshots, redundant and check-summed meta-data, upgrade/rollbacks support, built-in RAID, avoiding LVM, built-in file compression, online background scrubs, and other features. Whether Btrfs is stable and safe, Merlin says, that basic Btrfs is mostly stable, it doesn't corrupt anymore with recent kernels, using recent kernels are recommended, higher RAID levels are still maturing, there's still issues of Btrfs needing manual re-balancing, Btrfs fsck still being incomplete, there's no built-in file encryption yet, and Btrfs could always benefit from greater testing.

Those having 46 minutes to spend to be convinced to try out Btrfs, watch Marc Merlin's LCA2015 video presentation below.

There's also PDF slides for those short on time. At Phoronix I personally use Btrfs on a few test systems and on a few daily test systems in the farm though my main production systems are still generally on EXT4/XFS.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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