The New NTFS Linux Driver Updated With Better Compression Handling
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Storage on 6 December 2020 at 09:31 AM EST. 16 Comments
LINUX STORAGE --
One of the surprises this year in the Linux kernel world was Paragon Software wanting to upstream their "NTFS3" kernel driver that supports read-write operations on Microsoft NTFS file-systems and is much more full-featured than the existing read-focused NTFS kernel driver or the user-space NTFS FUSE driver. The driver hasn't yet been mainlined but continues to be updated in preparing for that milestone.

This week saw the "NTFS3" kernel driver patches revved for a fourteenth time as it continues undergoing review for hopefully being included mainline in a kernel cycle or two if all goes well. Paragon was quick to address early feedback following a rather rough first patch and they've been quick to iterate it in response to upstream developer feedback.

With the "v14" patches, now that much of the other technical feedback has been addressed in prior revisions one of the new features being worked on is better compression support. The NTFS3 driver's compression support is based on this XPRESS and LZX code originally written for the NTFS-3G driver as well as the WIMLIB code. That code was all written by Google's Eric Biggers who is known for his work on FSCRYPT and other Linux storage and compression developments.

Thus with this latest iteration of the NTFS3 patches, the compression support is more full-featured in dealing with file-system compressed files. NTFS supports per-file compression as well as drive-level compression. Windows 10 supports "Compact OS" that allows for compressing the entire system partition using XPRESS or LZ4.

It's great seeing Paragon Software continuing to get the NTFS3 driver support into shape and becoming a very viable option at long last for great NTFS file-system support under Linux going into 2021. It's too bad though it has taken so long and seemingly until their code ended its commercial life before they went about upstreaming plans, but better late than never given how widely used NTFS remains. Separately, the Samsung-backed open-source exFAT driver continues maturing quite well in the mainline kernel too.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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