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NetApp Threatens Sellers of Appliances Running ZFS

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the they-also-invented-the-box-and-the-bucket dept.

Businesses 231

eldavojohn writes "ZFS is licensed under the CDDL and is considered to be open source, but NetApp is sending threatening legal letters to startups who look to offer ZFS on NAS appliances. This assault on Coraid has a few people worried about the future of ZFS as NetApp rears its ugly head yet again. The CEO of Coraid replied to NetApp's demands, saying, 'We made the decision to suspend shipment after receiving a legal threat letter from NetApp Inc., suggesting that the open-source ZFS file system planned for inclusion with our EtherDrive Z-Series infringes NetApp patents.' Will NetApp effectively destroy any future ZFS might have enjoyed?"

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231 comments

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Oooooh god! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32853432)

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I love watching CmdrTaco suck a dick. It makes me so horny.

why? (2, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853498)

Wait...doesn't the filesystem get created by the user of the storage device? I.E., the storage system gets hooked up to your system(s), the OS sees them as raw block devices, then the user generally puts the filesystem on top of the block device.....is this not the way the EtherDrives work?

Re:why? (4, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853574)

What you say is true for LOCAL storage, but EtherDrives are NAS (Network Attached Storage) as mentioned in the summary.

This means they come preformatted, but the machines that access the storage are using Samba or Windows File Sharing or whatever to access it, so the client PCs do not see the filesystem on the NAS box.

Re:why? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853666)

This means they come preformatted

Solution: make it format itself the first time the end user turns it on.

Re:why? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853732)

You're still sending the tools to create the filesystem on the unit.

Real solution would be to pick a filesystem that is supported by your hardware AND is unencumbered by asshattery. There are plenty of those lying about. But ZFS probably gives them some extra storage management capabilities.

Re:why? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854414)

Real solution would be to pick a filesystem that is supported by your hardware AND is unencumbered by asshattery.

I guess that rules out ReiserFS [wikipedia.org] , then.

Re:why? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854498)

Oh, yeah. I should have been more specific...

...pick a filesystem that is supported by your hardware AND is unencumbered by patent-troll asshattery

FTFM (Fixed That For Me).

Re:why? (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854544)

ZFS is not encumbered by asshattery any more than Linux is.

It's encumbered by a patent dispute [netapp.com]

While Linux is encumbered by the SCO mess, which is basically the same thing, except related to copyrights and ownership of codes, rather than ownership of the whole concept of copy on write.

Re:why? (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853744)

OK...seeing as how Linux doesn't have kernel support for ZFS, who were they planning on marketing this to, the Solaris and BSD shops? Seems like a bad idea to sell a NAS device that isn't compatible with the most popular server OS.

Re:why? (2, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853776)

Ugh..nevermind..I misread that...me = stupid.

Re:why? (1)

overlordofmu (1422163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854000)

Nice! I am stupid too! It is good to know I am not alone.

Re:why? (5, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854176)

I know you've already replied that you misunderstood, but just in case anyone else is confused by this...

This is a NAS, which is itself a server. Support for the filesystem is built into the NAS box. The NAS box then exposes the data it stores on that filesystem to the network using network-appropriate protocols.

Anyone wanting to access it would use a networking standard like Samba, Windows File Sharing, FTP, or whatever services the NAS box allows.

Of course, they'd also access the management tools (nowadays generally a small web server also built into the NAS box).

None of the clients would need to support the underlying filesystem that the NAS box uses. In fact, they wouldn't even be allowed to know what that filesystem is.

Back when I had Windows boxes at home, they had absolutely no problems reading shares I made on my Linux box. The Linux box could be formatted ext, Reiser, or anything I wanted that Linux supported.

As long as I never tried to take a hard drive out of the Linux box and put it in the Windows box, of course. Then it becomes local storage, and Windows would have to support the filesystem in order to read it.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854074)

Actually, that is not true. On a NetApp filer a LUN is a file that sits on their WAFL FS inside a volume that resides in an aggregate. The host that connects to that LUN will format that LUN with whatever their native FS is, but that is still sitting on top of the WAFL FS as a file.

Re:why? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854328)

True as far as it goes, but you're refuting something I never said.

We're not talking about NetApp devices here (which you have, as far as I know, accurately described), we're talking about the target of their lawsuit, Coraid, and the product they are making that is the cause of the suit.

Coraid is selling a NAS called the EtherDrive Z-Series which uses ZFS as its underlying filesystem. That filesystem is not exposed to anything but the EtherDrive, because the EtherDrive is a NAS solution.

NetApp (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853842)

Much as I hate these patent cases, perhaps this one has merit. NetApp built it's bussiness being a vendor of NAS systems that had extensible file systems that spanned clever raid structures, and automatic snapshoting and they did this long before ZFS. Those are the key features of ZFS. And when you pair that with NAS, well that's a NetApp in a box. I dont know what NetApps patents claim but what they did was not obvious at the time and they are actively a seller of that, not a patent troll.

Re:NetApp (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854066)

NetApp built it's bussiness being a vendor of NAS systems that had extensible file systems that spanned clever raid structures, and automatic snapshoting and they did this long before ZFS. Those are the key features of ZFS.

VMS did it earlier. Screw NetApp and their overpriced, underfeatured, patented crap. Really. I mean that.

Here, here... (4, Insightful)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854474)

Screw NetApp and their overpriced, underfeatured, patented crap. Really. I mean that.

I totally and completely agree with that summary of NetApp

With that out of the way, how does NetApp have any authority to enforce a license/patent on a piece of software they did not invent, nor hold the licensing for? ZFS was created by Sun and released under the CDDL. I am confused as to where NetApp fits into this equation other than being a troll of something that isn't even theirs to begin to troll with. I will do some digging online, but this is just effed up.

Re:Here, here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854646)

Maybe they're saying Sun licensed some patents from them, which ZFS would otherwise infringe. ZFS on a Sun box: covered. ZFS anywhere else: violation.

Re:NetApp (0)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854092)

Indeed they are not patent trolls. Yet a probably clean room implementation of a FS with advanced but not revolutionary features get slammed. (visicalc can be said revolutionary, surely not "lets make an arbitrarily mapped and resizable RAID" or "lets the FS recover to any point in time")

Ergo the patent system is broken even when trolls do not exploit it.

Of course it is broken for the citizen. For people that want to make a market out of IP for their own pleasure, it is working perfectly.

Re:NetApp (1)

rayvd (155635) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854138)

I can see what you're saying as well. ZFS does a _lot_ of the things WAFL has done for years. I don't really think those approaches should necessarily be able to be patented though, but as it is now, you can see how something like ZFS -- very similar to WAFL in a lot of ways would raise some red flags and at least warrant some investigation (whether or not we agree with the principles there).

NetApp should focus on their business model though instead. WAFL is still significantly more mature than ZFS and has a superior deduplication implementation IMO. Their stuff "just works". They've got plenty of ammo to continue competing... I suppose they realize this and are just doing their corporate "due diligence" in aggressively trying to protect their IP.

Re:NetApp (2, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854522)

ZFS does a _lot_ of the things WAFL has done for years. I don't really think those approaches should necessarily be able to be patented though, but as it is now, you can see how something like ZFS -- very similar to WAFL in a lot of ways would raise some red flags and at least warrant some investigation (whether or not we agree with the principles there).

Chrome does a _lot_ of the things MSIE has done for years. I don't really think those approaches should necessarily be able to be patented though, but as it is now, you can see how something like Chrome -- very similar to MSIE in a lot of ways would raise some red flags and at least warrant some investigation (whether or not we agree with the principles there).

I suppose they realize this and are just doing their corporate "due diligence" in aggressively trying to protect their IP.

Screw their "due diligence". They're just being desperate assholes and everyone knows it.

Re:NetApp (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854548)

Their stuff "just works".

You do realize thats pretty much an admission that you've never actually used any of their hardware ... right?

Re:NetApp (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854720)

So if WAFL is so much better technically then why does NetApp need to throw around bogus patent infringement claims (and yes the claims about ZFS infringing their patents has been ruled to be wrong) rather than just competing on the merit of their product?

Re:NetApp (5, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854326)

The case doesn't have merit because the courts have already ruled that ZFS doesn't infringe NetApp's patent No. 6,892,211 which is at the heart of their infringement claims. This is just a shakedown.

Re:NetApp (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854424)

They may have done it 'before ZFS', but neither of them were original. If they were the first it might matter, but you're not talking about anything new really from them. They were just applying old ideas to new hardware under the hood.

MS doesn't get a patent for using mouse clicks on the next intel processor because they filed first before Apple any more than NetApp gets something special because they applied 1970s processes to 1990s SCSI drives or SATA/SAS drives now.

Re:NetApp (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854444)

I feel I should also point out:

Those are the key features of ZFS. And when you pair that with NAS, well that's a NetApp in a box

Its also a very obvious pairing to anyone with even a quarter of a clue in the industry, not patent worthy in the least.

Re:NetApp (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854512)

Bullshit, look at mainframes many of those had these features. A NAS is just a server with a bunch of disk.

in the spirit of full disclosure.... (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853506)

NetApp frequently advertises with slashdot.

NetApp owns the idea of ZFS + NAS? The old "x on the internet" patent attack, eh?

Re:in the spirit of full disclosure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32853610)

More bullshit from the rotting corpse that SCO^H^H^HNetApp is

Re:in the spirit of full disclosure.... (1)

PowerEdge (648673) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854048)

Yes. Cause NetApp is losing marketshare, dwindling even. Oh wait. It is 2nd only to EMC.

More complicated by a bit.. (2, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853796)

NetApp uses WAFL on their NAS. A filesystem they invented before ZFS. They claim ZFS violates patents of WAFL.

Re:More complicated by a bit.. (4, Informative)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854026)

using WAFL on a nas is not any more inventive than using ZFS on a NAS. Again, the parent is correct.
Using any filesystem for a NAS is not inventive. It's been around for quite some time. They're also going after distributors rather than attack the ZFS patents they purportedly precede.

It's also quite impossible to prove any sort of patent violation for using ZFS on a NAS simply due to the competing software being patented.

If I use a product X, of which is infringing upon product y, I am not liable for uses of product X. The patent system doesn't support 3rd party liability. it's just distributors buckling under legal threats.

To be clear (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854636)

They are not saying "on a NAS", they are saying ZFS infringes WAFL, regardless of whether it is on a NAS. My impression is that currently some prior art is seeming to render those claims moot, but the crux of it is not it being on a NAS, the crux of it is ZFS as a technology versus WAFL as a technology regardless of context. The comparison of 'x on the internet' isn't quite spot on, it's at least better than that.

In terms of going after the 'users' rather than the 'developers', the relationship here is certainly questionable. I've seen cases where something like this is brought upon a vendor who is legally entitled to pretty much pass the liability on to a supplier. If NAS vendor X gets sued and was using Solaris, they may have a contract to pass the entire mess to Oracle. However, if NAS vendor X is using FreeBSD, NAS vendor X may well be on the hook for use of that technology.

Re:More complicated by a bit.. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854670)

If I understand correctly, NetApps patents are really about their FS and not NAS, but they had only patented it in NAS context. So using ZFS normally doesn't infringe them, but using it in a NAS does - but the actual infringement is due to algorithms and techniques used in ZFS, and not due to NAS.

Re:More complicated by a bit.. (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854676)

The validity of the patent can of course be challenged, though my understanding is that "using WAFL with NAS" isn't what's being claimed as patented; some thing that WAFL does is being claimed as patented, and NetApp further claims that ZFS does those same things.

Also, you seem to think it's legal to sell a product that includes an infringing component; I'm confused why you would think this. Here's an excerpt from 35 USC 271 [uspto.gov] , which defines patent infringement:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent

(emphasis added)

3rd parties can absolutley get swept in, which is one of the reasons the penalties are less if the infringement isn't deemed "willful".

Re:in the spirit of full disclosure.... (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854614)

I suspect that they are going after NAS vendors simply because the NAS vendors are a more direct threat to their business.

NetApp probably doesn't like that Sun, now Oracle, is using "their" features in direct-attached storage for Solaris boxes; but NetApp doesn't sell direct attached storage, so that isn't as much their problem(and Larry's lawyers are probably scary).

If, on the other hand, the world starts sprouting outfits who are combining CDDL software+commodity disks+commodity NICs+modestly custom 'lots of SAS/SATA and redundant PSUs' chassis, NetApp suddenly has a whole bunch of competitors who can undercut them good and hard. That won't mean instant death or anything; but it certainly isn't good news for them.

Maybe not.. (1)

matt-fu (96262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853508)

Maybe not NetApp so much as Oracle.

If it really does infringe... (1)

hilather (1079603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853532)

They should go after Oracle/Sun and stop threatening people using the file system. Shenanigans!

Re:If it really does infringe... (2, Informative)

hilather (1079603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853580)

They should go after Oracle/Sun and stop threatening people using the file system. Shenanigans!

After actually reading the article (I know what was I thinking right?), it does mention that NetApp Filed a lawsuit against Sun back in 2007..

Re:If it really does infringe... (3, Interesting)

jythie (914043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854102)

And if I understood correctly, were not the patents involved in the lawsuit mostly invalidate?

Re:If it really does infringe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854384)

Just a casual observation from a lowly citizen's view but apparently the American legal system and patent law no longer functions on principles of validity. Why would any judge make a decision factoring in the common good when the system is now tied to corporate and financial interests?

Re:If it really does infringe... (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854196)

And I have a iscsi/NFS/samba sun device in my server room that runs on ZFS....go figure.

Boycott (5, Interesting)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853592)

We need a site to organise boycotts of companies that abuse the patent, trademark, or copyright system. Not everyone would need to sign on to all of them, but anyone should be able to post a call and explain their reasoning. If we got enough techies onto it who would use it at work, it could have some muscle.

Re:Boycott (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853892)

How many techies actually make purchasing decisions at their workplaces? Not many. Most are made by high-up managers, under advice from sales reps.

Re:Boycott (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854542)

I do, if it was that way I would go find a new job in short order. Those folks do not have the knowledge to be making those decisions.

Re:Boycott (1)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854098)

I have a patent on such sites.

Re:Boycott (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854642)

Although there's no rational justification for it to happen, I somehow think the end result would be your boycott website being issued a DMCA takedown notice.

Re:Boycott (2, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854688)

We need a site to organise boycotts of companies that abuse the patent, trademark, or copyright system. Not everyone would need to sign on to all of them, but anyone should be able to post a call and explain their reasoning.

It's called Slashdot.

If we got enough techies onto it who would use it at work, it could have some muscle.

Practice has shown that you won't get enough techies that are actually in charge of software/hardware purchase decisions on any scale sufficient for it to have some muscle.

Re:Boycott (0, Offtopic)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854714)

Boycotts don't work when the percentage of the "Purchasing" population that cares significantly outweighs the percentage that cares. No matter how hard you protest, you will never get to every idiot out there.

I think it would be interesting to create a 401K/IRA fund where tech workers can invest into the fund, the fund buys up significant percentage of the stock in a given company, changes it's policies and then backs down slowly to attack another company.

As a group, the investors could target specific problem companies to go after and vote for policies they want implemented. If their policies are workable, they may even increase the rate of growth of their investments.

In the same way, employees paid bonuses in stock could pull their stock to enable at least partial control over the company they work for (although it is pretty rare for companies to hand out voting stock to employees, probably for just this reason).

So, what happened? (2, Interesting)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853596)

The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on NetApp talks about them bringing a suit against Sun/ZFS and that Sun countersued, but doesn't mention the verdict. What happened there and why isn't the verdict applying here?

The story so far. (5, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853786)

The Wikipedia article on NetApp talks about them bringing a suit against Sun/ZFS and that Sun countersued, but doesn't mention the verdict.

Read all about it (the story so far, as presented by Sun/Oracle): http://www.sun.com/lawsuit/zfs [sun.com] , which provides links to a number of legal documents and patents and rulings from the PTO.
Basically, the patent which was central to NetApp's claim of infringement was found not to apply to ZFS. A second patent asserted to be infringed was rejected on reexamination by the PTO, but NetApp is still squirming through the appeals process. The current round of threats could be NetApp's last gasp/whimper on the topic.

WP7 killed by Ballmer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32853612)

Someone say it aint so.

ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun (0)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853614)

Given that ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun, on what grounds does Netapp have any leg to stand on here? This is crazy.

Re:ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun (2, Interesting)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853646)

Easy. NetApp sues a small vendor, wins and then uses this win as leverage in their battle against Oracle.

Re:ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun (2, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853804)

NetApp invented WAFL before ZFS. They claim ZFS itself infringes on WAFL technology.

Re:ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854560)

Nothing WAFL does was not done before, they just use do it on cheaper hardware.

Re:ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun (1)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853812)

It's about patents - NetApp claim that ZFS contains their patented technology (that NetApp incorporated into their WAFL filesystem).

Re:ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun (1)

Technonotice_Dom (686940) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853880)

Given that ZFS was developed and trademarked by Sun, on what grounds does Netapp have any leg to stand on here? This is crazy.

NetApp aren't disputing that Sun developed ZFS or have a trademark on the name. This is a patent case that alleges Sun, in developing the ZFS implementation have violated patents that NetApp holds on technologies. Sure, don't RTFA, but try getting to the end of the summary.

Fire away, Larry! (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853624)

We need to announce loudly on Oracle forums that NetApp says that Solaris shops are using illegal software. There are few things that get Larry Ellison moving faster than the idea that someone might cost him a dollar.

No need... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853820)

NetApp has been in a legal battle over WAFL v. ZFS from before the Oracle takeover. Oracle is keenly aware of all of this.

Usual slashdot anaolgy (1)

dacullen (1666965) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853626)

But Sun/Oracle will fight back and cost $$$, So 1. Attack small organizations who cant afford to fight back 2. cite their capitulation as "evidence" of the validity of their patent. 3. "License" the IP to small vendors 4. Profit

Re:Usual slashdot anaolgy (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854038)

Except in this case, they did it wrong. They've already gone after Sun/Oracle and Sun not only fought back, but won round 1.

Id-10ts (1)

geekmansworld (950281) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853670)

So much for our magical universal file system.

Another case of cross-platform standards being ruined by a whiny patent abuser.

Patents invalidated, awaiting appeal... (5, Informative)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853704)

See the second post in the recent thread on zfs-discuss: Legality and the future of zfs... [opensolaris.org]

It doesn't sound as if Netapp has a leg to stand on, so they are trying to shake down the companies while they can. Where have we seen this before?

grow a set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32853706)

Wish Coraid had grown a set and told NetApp to f-off.

Explains OSX Server pulling ZFS (2, Insightful)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853742)

I guess this explains OSX Server walking away from ZFS because of "license issues". Since Apple walked away in the 11th hour, I wonder if there is some real validity to NetApp's argument (at least legally).

Re:Explains OSX Server pulling ZFS (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853816)

ZFS isn't *essential* to Apple so why would they fight a patent battle in court? There's plenty of other file systems in the sea.

Re:Explains OSX Server pulling ZFS (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854114)

Unless it turns out to be an easy suit, I think it would be far more likely that Apple would just pay a licensing fee to use it. I don't think they pulled it over IP concerns, I think it was pulled because it wasn't ready for prime time.

Re:Explains OSX Server pulling ZFS (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854308)

If it was something that is non essential - and there is a rather long dispute - whom do they "license" it from? do they pay NetApp extortion money? maybe adding some validity to it? or do they just ignore the 10% of people using it and say we are going in this direction with no rime or reason (not uncalled for by Apple) and then after the dispute is over and there is a clear victory - they will add it back in as "fully supported" and the new way to go (cover your ears * whisper* isn't at all like the old way)

sorry i can see apple just taking a step back and watching Sun/NetApp go at it..

Re:Explains OSX Server pulling ZFS (4, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853874)

Except that the courts and the patent office are saying otherwise in NetApp's case against Sun.

Re:Explains OSX Server pulling ZFS (4, Insightful)

eddy (18759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853884)

We should all have learned by now that how people and companies react to legal threats doesn't have ANYTHING to do with so-called merits. 'The' SCOX case went on for about seven years and they had NOTHING. People paid them "linux tax" while they had NOTHING, could show NOTHING, made increasingly bizarre and outrageous claims and could in fact never WIN ANYTHING. People still paid.

The lesson from that of course is that being a tick on the ass of the system it's a perfectly valid way to lift a nice salary and appear important, so really, why not?

Re:Explains OSX Server pulling ZFS (1)

ais523 (1172701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854582)

The SCOX case is still going on. SCO had two appeals left (more if the Supremes decide they want to accept a case from them), and they just used one of them. (I haven't seen what their arguments are, and I don't think it's public knowledge yet; they should be hilarious when they come out, though.)

Indemnification (2, Insightful)

rayvd (155635) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853818)

Oracle should offer to provide indemnification to vendors. They've got a large patent portfolio of their own and obviously large assets to make them a much more formidable foe to NetApp.

Re:Indemnification (4, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853898)

Sun already does indemnify it's customers. Schwartz pointed this out [sun.com] when NetApp's rumblings against Sun first happened.

First, the basics. Sun indemnifies all its customers against IP claims like this. That is, we've always protected our markets from trolls, so customers can continue to use ZFS without concern for spurious patent and copyright issues. We stand behind our innovation, and our customers.

NetApp Must Die! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853876)

NetApp must die. And they can be buried in the same grave with NTP.

Re:NetApp Must Die! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32853980)

NetApp must die. And they can be buried in the same grave with NTP.

But if we do that, how will I keep my computer clocks accurate?

Re:Alternatives to NTP (1)

tangent (3677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854608)

You can keep your clocks accurate with something that isn't inherently unstable and complex [acm.org] , like RADclock [unimelb.edu.au] . Or for leaf nodes, you can stay with the same basic protocol but jettison a lot of the complexity by switching to SNTP.

They're afraid of ZFS (5, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853912)

ZFS is a game changer in the storage industry. While people are buying $250,000 NetApp installations, the exact same hardware, performance and connectivity will go for $5000 of high-end hardware and a couple of hours work with ZFS. $250,000 will easily buy you a Petabyte worth of redundant ZFS storage. Even the reasons you would otherwise buy NetApp or another proprietary storage solution (compression, de-duplication, checksums) is all implemented by ZFS.

NetApp recently lost their patents based on prior art (they basically ripped off somebody's paper and put in a patent for it), appealed it of course and now they are trying to squeeze the last money out of small shops before they get the smack down from the patent office. This is a very similar case to the Caldera/SCO cases.

Re:They're afraid of ZFS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854132)

Will your 5000 dollar box call home, have a staff of engineers at the ready, replace it's own drives and be constantly updated with firmware? And, ZFS is hardly as trustworthy as the WAFL system. There are good cases for ZFS and there are good cases for WAFL. When you need uptime and reliability, WAFL wins out. When you need cutting edge, don't care about data corruption, and cheap disk, go ZFS.

btrfs successor (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853958)

Even though btrfs isn't in production yet, we really need a successor to it not just to replace the filesystem, but to replace the LVM layer. ZFS isn't just a filesystem, but also goes one layer lower, coordinating RAID.

I wish I had the cash to make an open source (GPL or BSD license preferably) bounty for the following in a filesystem/LVM replacement, since ZFS isn't going to be going past Sun hardware these days:

1: Deduplication on the block level. This would be selectable because in some cases, there would be performance issues to it... but a good filesystem would stick heavily duplicated blocks on fast media (flash or inner cylinders).

2: 64 bit CRCs. This way, a backup program just has to pull from the filesystem stored CRCs and it would know which files have been changed or not. This also helps with integrity checking.

3: Compression. Selectable levels would be nice, from a fast zip based to bzip2 -v9.

4: Encryption, perhaps like EncFS where encrypted directories can be cattached at will. Even better would be more elaborate (public key, smart card) key management.

5: Block device encryption. It would be nice to install the OS, set a flag that all further writes will be encrypted to a key, then proceed to copy data to the machine. This way, the machine can get set up and (ab)used without waiting for disks to encrypt.

6: TRIM support. Enough said.

7: Ability to move data so one directory might be on a three-way mirror, while the rest of the filesystem sits on a RAID-Z equivalent. This way, critical documents are protected.

8: Advanced snapshotting functionality. It would be great to be able to restore a machine by booting from a USB flash drive or CD, having the filesystem be configured to the hard disks at hand, then copy from a stored image, regardless of architecture or setup of the previous machine's drives were. This way, a machine could be snapshotted, it be moved to a completely different configuration, then restored. A good example of a nice way to restore would be IBM's Sysback utility for AIX, where one can completely redefine where data resides before kicking off a restore.

9: Advanced attributes, where files can be flagged where if they are unlinked, the OS does a manual TRIM or multiple overwrite, and so on.

10: Automatic repair of damage. Starting with Windows Server 2008, Windows does a background check to look for damage in mounted NTFS filesystems. This way, something like missing free space or other issues can be flagged before it bites someone in the next bootup. For example, when a machine is idle, it will compare written 64 bit CRCs to what is on disk to ensure that they match, and flag nonmatching files as possibly corrupt.

11: Ability to add varying amounts of ECC to a filesystem. This way, the volume can take a lot of damage, but the files are highly likely to be still readable. A good example of this is Nero's SecureDisk, where it writes invisible ECC information to burned CDs/DVDs which can be used to piece together damaged files. This way, volumes that are stored for long term archiving can sustain damage, but there is a good chance of recovering the files, or at least knowing the files were damaged.

Re:btrfs successor (2, Insightful)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854282)

BTRFS already does multi-disk filesystems including RAID 0 and 1 by itself, bypassing LVM/mdadm AFAIK. RAID 5/6 is a planned feature.

I don't know about the rest of the stuff you mentioned; I'm not a filesystem guy. Recommend any good books?

Re:btrfs successor (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854538)

but a good filesystem would stick heavily duplicated blocks on fast media (flash or inner cylinders).

Why? Just because a block of data is duplicated all over your filesystem that doesn't mean it's accessed all that frequently. If I have a disk with 8,000 slightly different ghosted Linux disk images on it, I'm bound to have plenty of blocks that are identical in all of them, so deduplication would save me lots of space. However, since they're probably all just there for archival or testing purposes, and I only occasionally need to access any of them, putting those deduplicated blocks on fast storage would be a waste of my most expensive disks.

Fast storage is for frequently accessed data, not heavily duplicated data. Most halfway decent network storage devices already have caching algorithms that will put frequently accessed data on fast storage, whether that's SSD or NVRAM (or both).

Re:btrfs successor (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854654)

I wish I had the cash to make an open source (GPL or BSD license preferably) bounty for the following in a filesystem/LVM replacement, since ZFS isn't going to be going past Sun hardware these days:

And it really hasn't taken off there either. All the Sun shops that I know still use Veritas volume manager and filesystem.

ZFS has a bright future (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#32853982)

This summary makes it sound like ZFS is teetering on the edge of destruction. I thought ZFS was used all over the place by big database warehousing organizations. I went to a PostgreSQL conference a few years back and it seemed like everyone was using it. Is ZFS in such a weak position that one patent troll could have any significant impact on it?

Re:ZFS has a bright future (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854078)

No, it's not. In fact Sun is pretty much winning at ever corner against NetApp in the patent fight.

They can't do shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854094)

As long as ZFS is open and free, NetApp can cry and bicker all they want. There is no way they can stop it once ZFS is out in the wild.

BtrFS (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854156)

Maybe this is the reason BtrFS is maturing at a breakneck pace. :)

Re:BtrFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854394)

Is is April already?

Ummm it's their technology (0, Troll)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854200)

They have a patent on this technology. They deserve the right to not have compete against their own technology. End of story. You can bitch and moan over whether or not patents are fair, but that's not the issue. The issue is that as of this moment, they have a legal patent and they spent years investing and developing their snapshot technology.

Netapp for what it's worth is a decent company, I don't think they would just go out and start a patent war for no reason. I fully support them over Sun and ZFS on this one.

Re:Ummm it's their technology (5, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854284)

Sorry buddy but the courts have ruled that ZFS doesn't infringe NetApp's patents. Read here [sun.com] and here [sun.com] . Cry more.

Re:Ummm it's their technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854304)

I dunno, supposed A fellow and I both saw an application for a file system. Both spend years working on it and come up with similar ideas how to make it better. doesn't seem right to me that because you get a patent, or started 1 day before me, I get shafted in either case borrowing nothing from you.

Re:Ummm it's their technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854364)

ZFS was found twice not to infringe on WAFL's patents.

Re:Ummm it's their technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854588)

In an east Texas court of law, of all places!

Re:Ummm it's their technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854434)

You should file an amicus brief to the court that is vehemently disagreeing with you on NetApp having a leg to stand on with their patent.

Shoud have used ReiserFS! (0, Troll)

stun (782073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854276)

If they have used ReiserFS, they wouldn't have ended up getting sued by NetApp.
Plus, it might even help getting rid of the the annoying wife at home also!

When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854488)

When is Larry Ellison going to order a hit job on David Hitz already?

don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854674)

Netapp can try all they might to destroy ZFS, but Oracle will take care of that for them.

- Opensolaris delays
- Cancelling OEM contracts with big time hardware manufacturers (e.g., HP)
- enforcing Solaris contracts on Oracle hardware only
- Charging, charging, charging for stuff that shouldn't be, especially when they need to be free to continue growth

Such as shame for a nice piece of technology. Hopefully others like *BSD and Nexenta can take ZFS farther. Otherwise, I guess I'll have to wait for BtrFS.

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