Resetting the foundations

It seems that Apple’s OS X is getting a new filesystem with its upcoming release of version 10.5. They’re reportedly moving to Sun’s ZFS.

From that link:

ZFS is not an incremental improvement to existing technology; it is a fundamentally new approach to data management. We’ve blown away 20 years of obsolete assumptions, [and] eliminated complexity at the source[…].

ZFS presents a pooled storage model that completely eliminates the concept of volumes and the associated problems of partitions, provisioning, wasted bandwidth and stranded storage. Thousands of filesystems can draw from a common storage pool, each one consuming only as much space as it actually needs. The combined I/O bandwidth of all devices in the pool is available to all filesystems at all times.

All operations are copy-on-write transactions, so the on-disk state is always valid. There is no need to fsck(1M) a ZFS filesystem, ever. Every block is checksummed to prevent silent data corruption, and the data is self-healing in replicated (mirrored or RAID) configurations. If one copy is damaged, ZFS will detect it and use another copy to repair it.

So… it’s self-healing and eliminates the idea of volumes, partitions, and the like. Is everything going to work like one giant RAID or something?

More importantly: to my knowledge Windows does not run on ZFS. What is this going to do to all those people who want to run Windows on their Macs? Whither Boot Camp?

The filesystem sounds like it has a lot of good things going for it, but I’m puzzled by some of its claims, and curious about the ramifications thereof. I can’t imagine that Apple would blow away a Mac’s ability to run Windows, as that seems to be a growing selling point, but Steve is sometimes known to do his users some short term damage in his relentless quest for long-term advancement.

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One Response to Resetting the foundations

  1. ErikZ says:

    ZFS looks fantastic. But it’s license is currently incompatible with Linux, and I don’t think MS will ever let go of it’s proprietary filesystem.

    If there’s a problem, I’m sure people are looking into solving the issue. Virtual OSes are getting really popular.

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