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ZFS On Linux - It's Alive!

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the insert-mad-science-laugh-here dept.

Sun Microsystems 281

lymeca writes "LinuxWorld reports that Sun Microsystem's ZFS filesystem has been converted from its incarnation in OpenSolaris to a module capable of running in the Linux user-space filsystem project, FUSE. Because of the license incompatibilities with the Linux kernel, it has not yet been integrated for distribution within the kernel itself. This project, called ZFS on FUSE, aims to enable GNU/Linux users to use ZFS as a process in userspace, bypassing the legal barrier inherent in having the filesystem coded into the Linux kernel itself. Booting from a ZFS partition has been confirmed to work. The performance currently clocks in at about half as fast as XFS, but with all the success the NTFS-3g project has had creating a high performance FUSE implementation of the NTFS filesystem, there's hope that performance tweaking could yield a practical elimination of barriers for GNU/Linux users to make use of all that ZFS has to offer."

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Why not in the kernel? (5, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568473)

The in-kernel vs userland distinction has always struck me as quite arbitrary. So in one case you're linked at compile time and in another case you compile them separately and go through system calls. Why should that make one of them a derivative work and the other not? In either case the file system can be taken out and you still have a perfectly functional kernel that can run other file systems. Same goes for graphics drivers.

The GPL doesn't attempt to codify all the intricate details that it would take to define such a distinction in the license. It's only described as an accepted rule of thumb in the FAQ. So what's the deal? It seems like this rule is really holding back some commercial support for Linux - is the current situation what we really want, and at any rate how did we get here? Would we be better off if such a separable, non-essential feature could be linked in somehow instead of needing to be put behind extra layers of abstraction?

Re:Why not in the kernel? (3, Informative)

vialation (885786) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568541)

It has been decided that the deciding factor with the GPL is whether or not something links to it. Instead of a userspace program which simply makes a system call by tripping an interrupt or using the SYSENTER opcode (which would not require kernel source code to do), a kernel module (which, without FUSE, a filesystem must be) actually gets linked into kernel space, and has its symbols added to the kernel. Any calls to other parts of the kernel directly call the kernel. That is the distinction.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (3, Insightful)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568831)

It has been decided that the deciding factor with the GPL is whether or not something links to it.

This is absolutely not true. "It has been decided": When? By whom? This claim is not only unfounded, it is also quite false (just ask a lawyer..).

The parent absolutely should NOT be modded as informative.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569249)

Alright then, how about "The de-facto understanding is..."?

The existence of the LGPL goes some way to suggesting that this indeed is the generally accepted understanding. It's not been codified in any legal judgement that I'm aware of, but that's only becaue there have been relatively few legal judgements worldwide on this particular aspect of the GPL. Most breaches seem to be far more flagrant.

"The FSF guideline is" (4, Informative)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569595)

The FSF has used the syscall interface as a guideline to determine whether something is a derived work or not. It is a guideline, not a hard rule though, and I suspect they would consider user-space ZFS for a derived work using a technical trick to avoid being linked into the kernel. I.e. infringing. However, since the FSF doesn't own the kernel, their opinion on the subject doesn't matter.

Re:"The FSF guideline is" (3, Informative)

pthisis (27352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570281)

The FSF has used the syscall interface as a guideline to determine whether something is a derived work or not. It is a guideline, not a hard rule though, and I suspect they would consider user-space ZFS for a derived work using a technical trick to avoid being linked into the kernel. I.e. infringing. However, since the FSF doesn't own the kernel, their opinion on the subject doesn't matter.

OTOH, some respected kernel developers (e.g. Alan Cox) certainly have explicitly said they believe binary kernel modules must be GPL and that things like nvidia's drivers are probably infringing. Not exactly the same thing but it's enough that I'd still call this a grey area until it's tested.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (0, Troll)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570143)

That's better than "it has been decided" (which is still modded "informative" for some unknown reason), however it's still not true. It may what many programmers roughly understand as a boundary of the GPL, but it is not what a court might understand. A court will take a wider view, not predicated on mere computer technicalities...

Re:Why not in the kernel? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569503)

Why not just use a kernel shim like the commercial closed source drivers do? It would still be faster than usermode!

Re:Why not in the kernel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568559)

The system call provides the gateway, and is the equivalent of a pipeline. If it were not so, there could be no non-GPL2 software on Linux.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568619)

And... where exactly is all of that NEWS?

Re:Why not in the kernel? (0, Troll)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568793)

Because you can use ZFS on Linux now? Unless you could do that before. I don't use it so I don't know.

It'd be news if Sun would do The Right Thing(tm) and dual license it under the GPL. Though they'd probably go GPL3 and screw everything up just as much.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (4, Interesting)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568981)

How is it Sun's fault that the GPL is incompatible with anything other than itself?

The Right Thing(tm) is to keep the license as it is. It ensures the Solaris code has to be shared (like the GPL), but doesn't pollute source code around it ( GPL - viral clause = CDDL. Same license as firefox, or apache)

Linux wanting to pillage from the project isn't a good enough reason to make it impossible for people to write non-GPL drivers for Solaris

Re:Why not in the kernel? (0)

segedunum (883035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570139)

How is it Sun's fault that the GPL is incompatible with anything other than itself?
Because the CDDL was deliberately made incompatible with the GPL, that's why. Also ask Sun about the needless patents they seem to want to hold on ZFS.

Linux wanting to pillage from the project isn't a good enough reason to make it impossible for people to write non-GPL drivers for Solaris
People could still write non-GPL drivers for Solaris regardless. I take that to mean you don't understand the meaning of a GPL compatible license.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (3, Insightful)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570445)

"Because the CDDL was deliberately made incompatible with the GPL, that's why. Also ask Sun about the needless patents they seem to want to hold on ZFS."

The CDDL is more or less the exact same license Firefox or Apache are under. Sun has a lot of ISV's and IHV's that want to be able to write code ( storage drivers, for example ) that can link against the Solaris kernel without having a team of lawyers analyze to see if it's okay.

It wasn't chosen to be incompatible with the GPL, it was chosen to provide some of the same protections ( share my code... ) without being incompatible with other licenses.

As for the patents, ask IBM how many patents they've got expressed in Linux

"People could still write non-GPL drivers for Solaris regardless. I take that to mean you don't understand the meaning of a GPL compatible license."

You can't link to GPL'ed code with an incompatible license. Hypothetically if EMC or Symantec wanted to write a closed-source driver for this hypothetical GPL Solaris, they'd have to pull an nVidia ( which is a lot of effort for purely non-technical reasons ), or stop supporting the platform.

Would that really be in Sun's best interests, if I(S|H)V's stopped supporting them?

Re:Why not in the kernel? (1, Interesting)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568991)

Why is Sun switching to the GPL the "Right Thing"?

Maybe the "Right Thing" would be for Linux to switch to a compatible license, like the CDDL, or BSD.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (3, Insightful)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568627)

The in-kernel vs userland distinction has always struck me as quite arbitrary. So in one case you're linked at compile time and in another case you compile them separately and go through system calls. Why should that make one of them a derivative work and the other not?

I agree the kernel vs. userland issue is arbitrary. However, think about all the closed-source software running on Linux, or opensource with other licenses but GPL v2. These are legally possible only because we make the distinction.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (3, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568675)

I am not a kernel hacker but I believe you are confusing loadable kernel modules with user space code.
I am pretty sure that kernel modules run at the kernel level and can access all the same structures that a driver compiled into the kernel can.
FUSE file systems run at the same privilege level as a user program does. In theory it is a slower but more robust system. If a FUSE file system crashes you can just restart the filesystem and remount the drive. If a kernel level file system crashes it can cause a kernel panic and bring down the entire system.
So the distinction between user-land and kernel drivers is anything but arbitrary.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (2, Informative)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570159)

This is and was always one of the chief complaints about Windows as well, everything in the kernel so a malfunction can take the whole system down. Now the push to user-space makes everything more robust. Of course you also take a performance hit hence the slowness that is Vista.

Still, if ZFS under FUSE is half as fast as XFS in kernel-mode then you're not talking about an FS that is particularly slow, you would still gain the data protection from ZFS which in my mind at least is the whole point. It would work for a near-line type storage system where performance isn't as critical. When the speed gets up then it can move to online storage where it will utilize the lessons it learned from near-line storage giving it a track record which will make people more comfortable in adopting it.

Re:Why not in the kernel? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568701)

Why not just rewrite the ZFS code as GPL or (hopefully) BSD? Suddenly we care about software patents and not reverse engineering things?

Re:Why not in the kernel? (5, Informative)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569017)

The version of the GPL included with the Linux kernel states at the top:

  • NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".

Not sure how far back this clarification really goes, but I think it predates the GPLv2-only one, making it at least six years old.

Wow... nice duct-tape OS, Lunix d00dz!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19569181)

Wow, how cool is it to run your file system with the same priority given to a web browser or music player. But hey, it's ONLY a file system!!

Keep duct taping stuff onto Lunix, d00dz!! It's what made Lunix the #1 operating system it is today!

Re:Wow... nice duct-tape OS, Lunix d00dz!!! (2, Insightful)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569341)

Funny and sad at the same time.

Yet to be included? (2, Informative)

vialation (885786) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568499)

The summary makes it sound as if ZFS will ever be included in the kernel. Anything FUSE will never be in the kernel, except the FUSE driver itself. Userspace programs and kernelspace are considered separate for a reason.

Of course, this will all change if both Sun and Torvalds switch to GPL3...

Forget ZFS - go native with btrfs (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568965)

There's a Linux filesystem under development that might be able to compare favourably with ZFS if shown some love by developers:

* http://oss.oracle.com/projects/btrfs/ [oracle.com]
* http://kerneltrap.org/node/8376 [kerneltrap.org]

Avoid the license squabbles and do what we do best: build it ourselves, only better.

Re:Yet to be included? (2, Interesting)

salahx (100975) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569085)

Not necessarily; NTFS is both in the kernel AND in FUSE. However, the kernel version is less full-featured than the user-space version (ntfs-3G); because of lack of manpower and that author strict quality control - the old NTFS driver ate filesystems.

That said, I can't see ZFS ever being in the kernel - even licensing problems aside; its a HUGE layering violation. Some say they can do a ZFS without the layering problem; an ambitious project - btrfs [oracle.com] exists to try do exactly that. Of course its nowhere near done (currently it'll oops if the filesystem gets full, among other things) - but its one to keep an eye on.

Grub (5, Informative)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568507)

Booting from a ZFS partition has been confirmed to work

Grub has supported ZFS booting for a while (forget which branch though).

Re:Grub (2, Informative)

vialation (885786) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568593)

Getting GRUB to load ZFS was easy since Sun released GPL boot code which could minimally read a ZFS partition. The hard part is making it so that the kernel can use the filesystem as root, which requires ZFS to be built into the kernel. Unless you are using an initrd or some other FS for the boot partition. Direct booting is extremely difficult.

Re:Grub (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568789)

You can load FUSE from initramfs, did you know?

Just be cafeful with your shutdown scripts. You wouldn't want killall to drop your userspace end of FUSE just before you remount readonly.

Now if I could only find whose responsible for sysvinit. I have a little patch and a custom script pair that makes this a little easier.

Re:Grub (2, Informative)

lmfr (567586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570339)

Yes, if you can mount it, you can boot from it, with the proper initrd/initramfs.

As for the maintainer for sysvinit, the lsm [cistron.nl] tells you that. Or you could go with the maintainers of your distribution.

It's time for Sun (-1, Troll)

tenchiken (22661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568517)

It's time for Sun to put their money where their mouth is. Linus was absolutely right recently when he noted that Sun wanted access to Linux's drivers. They also have co-opted gnome, and taken advantage of the renaissance that Linux brought to the (massively decaying) UNIX ecosystem.

Let's find a way to settle these license issues. ZFS looks to be great innovation, but Sun appears to be playing license games with the express purpose of keeping Linux at bay.

Re:It's time for Sun (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568607)

They also have co-opted gnome

No "co-opting" necessary. Solaris is every bit as much a terget platform for Gnome as Linux is.

Re:It's time for Sun (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568659)

They also have co-opted gnome

By "co-opted" I presume you mean, "Made major contributions to [gnome.org] "?

Re:It's time for Sun (4, Insightful)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568671)

Let's find a way to settle these license issues. ZFS looks to be great innovation, but Sun appears to be playing license games with the express purpose of keeping Linux at bay.

Sorry, it's Linux that's playing the license games, not Sun. One only needs to look at ZFS support in FreeBSD to see that (Speaking of, where's the 'ZFS On FreeBSD!' story?).

The GPL "everything under our license" philosophy is the sole cause of these so-called "license issues". If Linux wants to use Sun's code, why should Sun have to release it under Linux' license?

Re:It's time for Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568767)

Linux has already stated that he just wants to write code. He's a programmer, not a lawyer. So for christ's sake, leave him alone and let him write code.

Re:It's time for Sun (3, Funny)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569057)

Linux is a kernel (OS If you don't want to be pedantic) and LINUS (Linus) is a programmer and benevolent dictator.

Confuse them again at your own peril.

Re:It's time for Sun (2, Interesting)

RedElf (249078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568859)

Sorry, it's Linux that's playing the license games, not Sun. One only needs to look at ZFS support in FreeBSD to see that (Speaking of, where's the 'ZFS On FreeBSD!' story?).
Thank you, couldn't have said it better myself. In fact while reading the article I couldn't help but keep thinking if they were using FreeBSD instead of Linux they could already be playing with ZFS.

I don't think the GPL is what Sun dislikes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568903)

> The GPL "everything under our license" philosophy is the sole cause of these so-called "license issues". If Linux wants to use Sun's code, why should Sun have to release it under Linux' license?

Given that Sun promised to GPLv3 it, the problem might be more than Linux uses an outdated version of the GPL than that they use the GPL at all.

They may not be doing it out of benevolence, but Sun did open Java, so I'll give them at least some credit. Heh, even my captcha is 'eclipse' ...

Re:I don't think the GPL is what Sun dislikes... (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569195)

Sun made no such promise.

Sun said they might look in to it, nothing more.

The CDDL is a perfectly fine license, it's similar to what Apache & Mozilla use, and one that the current OpenSolaris community seems quite happy with.

Re:It's time for Sun (4, Insightful)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568923)

Everyone that has a license is "playing the game". That is required by most copyright laws. The only truly free software is in public domain, the downside to PD is code confiscation that is possible. BSD, GPL, M$ all use a license with restrictions. A restriction limits one or more freedoms. You have to choose which freedom to give up.

Re:It's time for Sun (0, Flamebait)

Alphager (957739) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568953)

Sorry, it's Linux that's playing the license games, not Sun. One only needs to look at ZFS support in FreeBSD to see that (Speaking of, where's the 'ZFS On FreeBSD!' story?).
There is no "ZFS on FreeBSD"-story, because all five users of FreeBSD allready know about it. Linux has a much wider adoption out there, thus the focus on linux.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568983)

Sorry, it's Linux that's playing the license games, not Sun.

ZFS is on OpenSolaris [opensolaris.org] and Sun has claimed to be considering GPL for OpenSolaris [com.com] . Are they, or aren't they? On top of that, the FSF has muddied the waters through their activity on the GPLv3, further complicating the entire issue.

I don't think you can blame the whole situation on Linux's use of the GPL, which is not coincidentally the reason why many people contributed to Linux. Given that Linux is today considerably ahead of all BSDs in most ways, I think adoption of the GPL is likely the only reason Linux is here today.

Finally, if you don't care about software freedom, and only your freedom, why don't you go run BSD, and stop complaining about Linux?

Re:It's time for Sun (3, Insightful)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569349)

ZFS is on OpenSolaris and Sun has claimed to be considering GPL for OpenSolaris. Are they, or aren't they? On top of that, the FSF has muddied the waters through their activity on the GPLv3, further complicating the entire issue.

I don't care if Sun says they're considering GPLing OpenSolaris, ZFS, or anything else for that matter. The poster I replied to accused Sun of keeping ZFS from Linux by not GPLing it - when it's the goddamn GPL that Linux uses that is preventing the inclusion of ZFS!

I don't think you can blame the whole situation on Linux's use of the GPL, which is not coincidentally the reason why many people contributed to Linux. Given that Linux is today considerably ahead of all BSDs in most ways, I think adoption of the GPL is likely the only reason Linux is here today.

I'm not sure how Linux can be ahead of the BSDs, as Linux is just a kernel, while the BSDs are entire operating systems. But let's say you were referring to Linux distributions being "considerably ahead" - I've never seen this. I've always found the BSD's to be elegant systems to work on, and Linux systems to be a mess (I unfortunately have to admin hundreds of Linux boxes at work). Linux supposedly has better driver support, yet I've always found FreeBSD supports my hardware just fine (and for many things, like wireless drivers, I've found the BSDs to have better supprt than Linux). Linux may perform a bit better in some instances, but IMHO the negligible performance gains aren't worth the aggravation.

Finally, if you don't care about software freedom, and only your freedom, why don't you go run BSD, and stop complaining about Linux?

I use FreeBSD on my personal server, and I believe BSD code to be more free than GPL code, but that's irrelevant. Frankly, I'm sick of the Linux community telling everyone else what to do with THEIR code. Besides, you can hardly call my post a complaint - if anyone was complaining, it was the original post I replied to.

Re:It's time for Sun (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569567)

I'm not sure how Linux can be ahead of the BSDs, as Linux is just a kernel, while the BSDs are entire operating systems.

I'm talking about kernels vs. kernels. The linux kernel tends to includes substantial functionality not yet available for *BSD.

Although I could as easily talk about distributions vs. distributions; more software is developed on Linux than *BSD and it sometimes takes time/effort to port from Linux to *BSD, so there is more software available to the average end user.

Linux may perform a bit better in some instances, but IMHO the negligible performance gains aren't worth the aggravation.

It's notable that these days Linux runs on more platforms than anything else but maybe netbsd, the least advanced (but apparently most portable) flavor of *BSD. Linux runs on 16 bit systems with no MMU (albeit a somewhat hacked up version of the kernel) and it runs on some of the most complex systems on the planet. Linux provides the potential for more hardware than it is possible to get with any *BSD system. And less!

Finally, if you don't care about software freedom, and only your freedom, why don't you go run BSD, and stop complaining about Linux?
I use FreeBSD on my personal server, and I believe BSD code to be more free than GPL code, but that's irrelevant. Frankly, I'm sick of the Linux community telling everyone else what to do with THEIR code.

My response can only be "wah wah wah". I'm tired of BSD-types telling everyone else what attitude they should have about software licensing.

Sun claims they want ZFS to be taken up. The GPL has important features which are there for good reasons and which are obviously supported by the Linux community (which would, again, otherwise just go to BSD and shutthefuckup.) If Sun is serious about wanting to see ZFS be taken up, they are going to have to license it accordingly. If they aren't, then they don't. As it is, it's present in FUSE today, so it's there and working, and it should only get faster as both the implementation and FUSE itself are improved. So frankly I don't give a good goddamn regardless. But ultimately if you don't want to listen to whiners, don't listen to them and for dog's sake don't egg them on or you will only create more of what you are complaining about.

I just think you like to complain.

Besides, you can hardly call my post a complaint - if anyone was complaining, it was the original post I replied to.

I calls 'em as I sees 'em.

Re:It's time for Sun (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569005)

This is the general Flaw with the GPL. It assumes given the approprate environment everyone will want to use GPL. In Real Life this isn't the case. There are pleanty of well informed and smart people who don't like GPL. There are many reasons not to choose GPL or a GPL Compatible License. Not all buisness models or software is or can be profitable with GPL. Everyone is different and it is impossible for GPL to gain the level accecptance it wants (Every Software). It isn't that great of a license, it is to restrictive for the developer who actually puts their time and effort into the work.

GPL is like a Cult which doesn't allow people to converse with people outside the cult or its compatible cults. Any sharing of idea or information outside of its core beleafs are considered Evil so must be avoided at risk of banashment. Software wants to be free but the creator normally wants some rights to his work. Either it being money, their Name in the Text File so it looks good on a resume, or just control of the process. Sun want to keep control of their process so they don't want to make it GPL. And now Linux users are suffering from it not because Sun doesn't want linux users to use it but because the Rules that the linux Devlopers agreed appon wont allow it.

Re:It's time for Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19569859)

This is the general Flaw with the GPL. It assumes given the approprate environment everyone will want to use GPL.

Only if you assume that the point of the GPL is to be all-inclusive. It isn't. The point of the GPL is that it minimizes hassles for developers. If you release software under the GPL then you know what the rules are and always will be with regards to that code from the outset, which makes things simple. If that's what you want, then you release your software under the GPL. If that isn't what you want, then you don't release your software under the GPL.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569087)

Sorry, it's Linux that's playing the license games, not Sun. One only needs to look at ZFS support in FreeBSD to see that (Speaking of, where's the 'ZFS On FreeBSD!' story?).

Maybe because FreeBSD 7.0 hasn't been released yet? Sure, it's there, but not all of us run CURRENT. Personally, I'm chomping at the bit to get ZFS, but I'm sticking with STABLE.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569469)

Maybe because FreeBSD 7.0 hasn't been released yet? Sure, it's there, but not all of us run CURRENT. Personally, I'm chomping at the bit to get ZFS, but I'm sticking with STABLE

Are you saying ZFS on FUSE is a production-quality release? At this point, I'd have more faith in the stability and reliability of ZFS on FreeBSD than ZFS on FUSE. If ZFS on FUSE warrants a front page article, surely ZFS on FreeBSD warrants a blurb in the BSD section of /.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569293)

Is there a BSD "distro" that uses APT for package management (or something as good as)? I would love to have ZFS, but not at the expense of sane package management.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569601)

BSD's really aren't package management heavy; they've got programs for installing and removing packages, and scripts to upgrade, but that's about it. The BSD's generally focus around *ports* instead of packages, which are more like Gentoo's ebuilds; the user downloads the framework from CVS, executes the script, and the port downloads source code and compiles a binary package which is then installed. It's probably not as robust or as simple as APT, but allows for more customization. (For the record, there is something called PC-BSD out there that supposedly uses a more Linux-like package management interface; it's supposedly one of the most easy-to-install and easy-to-use systems out there, according to some pointy-hat I couldn't be bothered to remember the name of).

The real genius of the BSD way, IMO, is the separation of the base system from the package manager. Whenever I've had troubles with upgrades on Linux, it's usually on account of the kernel, glibc, or some essential library. With the BSD's these components are compiled and installed as a whole.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570031)

"With the BSD's these components are compiled and installed as a whole."

You could simply have a large "bsd-base" package (that depended on a specific version of a "bsd-kernel") with all the base system in it and still have package management (even buildable and depending on source packages) for all user applications (like Firefox, Thunderbird, Emacs and so on). When you upgrade it, you are effectively, upgrading the whole OS.

My problems with package management on Ubuntu are very rare (and mind you I am running Feisty on a Gutsy kernel). I had some with Debian, but I was running a box pegged on testing with parts from unstable, experimental and several external non-kosher package sources, so, I suppose, I deserved what I got.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570099)

Sounds good. Go do it.

But seriously, I think that's what PC-BSD already does. Really, there's not a whole lot of difference in package management across the board; everyone's still installing, deleting, or upgrading packages, and almost all of them handle dependencies. Are BSD's tools in the same degree of usability as APT/Synaptic? No. Can I get what I need within a short amount of time? Undoubtedly.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

crumley (12964) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570301)

I have no idea if it includes ZFS yet, but Debian GNU/kFreeBSD [debian.org] certainly includes apt.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570431)

Sounds extremely worth a try. Thank you very much.

Heck... A BSD kernel with BSD-ish tools and APT coming from the usual *BSD players would sure be very interesting. The key to a decent package manager like APT is not installing stuff. Anyone can get a tarbal and do the "./configure-make-make install" dance. The trick is to do it and still keep your box up-to-date with the latest and greatest (and safest) stuff.

Re:It's time for Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568723)

If the Linux community don't like the way Sun does things, then maybe they shouldn't use ZFS at all. Or any other Sun technology.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

Braxton_Bragg (902868) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568779)

I've been around the block a few times. I've noted that one of the founders, Bill Joy, "probably" brought over a lot of the code from the Berkeley distribution to Sun OS ( pre Solaris, of course).

I agree that Sun is a dying concern.

Re:It's time for Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568891)

Probably? It's not like they tried to hide it, or necessarily did anything wrong.

Re:It's time for Sun (2, Informative)

OYAHHH (322809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568813)

Wrong,

Sun exists to make money for it's shareholders. If and when it becomes advantageous to their share price to release ZFS then they will do it.

They have already stepped up to the plate and released Star/OpenOffice, Java, and significant portions of Solaris. Each of those software products is a very significant level of magnitude of work. How about a little bit of appreciation for those several person-years worth of work?

To imply that Sun is playing licensing games is disingenuous, at best.

And if you want to call someone out on licensing then how about Linus himself. Why does he own the trademark Linux? Yes, he provides free sub-licensing terms, but those are Linus' terms.

Much as Linus has his limits, Sun has it own limits of what it is willing to give up.

When Linus decides to give up the Linux trademark freely then he can legitimately start complaining about Sun Microsystems.

Re:It's time for Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568907)

"Why does he own the trademark Linux?"

Someone has to.

Re:It's time for Sun (1)

GnuAge (528559) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569853)

When Linus decides to give up the Linux trademark freely then he can legitimately start complaining about Sun Microsystems.
I think Thorvalds' complaints [lwn.net] about Sun's efforts to accommodate Linux sound pretty legitimate even if he does trademark the OS name.

Re:It's time for Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19570165)

(massively decaying) UNIX ecosystem

I guess I shouldn't be surprised about a Linux zealot spreading misinformation about other OSes.

http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/pr/2007-05/sunflash.20 070523.1.xml [sun.com]

Limitations of Linux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568545)

Seriously, not to start a holy war but doesn't this show a limitation of the "openness" of Linux. I mean FreeBSD was able to integrate it into the kernel (more specificaly with geom) because their BSD licensing structure doesn't put limitations on the code. But Linux's GPL seems to restrict development so that code is open as according to GPL... I'm still amazed more people don't complain about the way Linux is licensed and released.

Re:Limitations of Linux (2, Informative)

vialation (885786) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568653)

People do not complain because they realize that the lack of openness that you greatly exaggerate is only to require GPL'd code to remain GPL'd. GPL is not a license of "openness" -- it is a mechanism by which to counteract copyright (by means of copyleft). It is restrictive in the sense that proprietary software has restrictions, but in the opposite manner. You must keep it free in the same way that you must keep propietary software closed and proprietary by law. My opinion is that this is a good thing for furthering the Free Software movement. Stallman tries to make it clear that the number of people using your code is of no importance, but rather that it remain free.

Can't you make a binary blob kernel module? (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568585)

Can't you just make a binary blob kernel module? I know the GPL zealots hate the idea, but wouldn't this also get around the liscencing problems?

Re:Can't you make a binary blob kernel module? (3, Interesting)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568643)

Can't you just make a binary blob kernel module? That is basically what they are doing. In the case of Nvidia they write the binary blob driver and have an OSS driver to interface between the kernel and the blob. In this case ZFS is using FUSE instead of creating it's own interface code into the kernel.

Never mind ZFS (2, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568595)

What I desperately need is a reliable caching filesystem with decent performance.

The $COMPANY network is loaded with Linux workstations and servers, all with their own lotsabyte drives -- and the only things those drives are used for is a tiny system image. Meanwhile the network is getting hammered.

I might not kill to get a several-hundred-gigabyte local network cache -- but don't tempt me.

Re:Never mind ZFS (3, Informative)

Krondor (306666) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568691)

What I desperately need is a reliable caching filesystem with decent performance.

The $COMPANY network is loaded with Linux workstations and servers, all with their own lotsabyte drives -- and the only things those drives are used for is a tiny system image. Meanwhile the network is getting hammered.


Are you asking for a network based filesystem like AFS [wikipedia.org] ? Did I misunderstand your issue?

Re:Never mind ZFS (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570133)

Network yes, AFS, probably not. Seems to me he wants a cheap distributed filesystem,
probably closer to something Google uses... networked JBOD. Of course he doesn't say
what he wants the cache for: Squid?

I'm guessing the hassle of managing AFS and its requirements (kerberos, synchronized
time, client-side cache) are more than he'd like just to recover some disk space.

Re:Never mind ZFS (2, Informative)

andrei_r (560152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570361)

One thing would be to migrate your Linux workstations and servers to Solaris x86, and use cacheFS.

"When you enable cachefs file system, the data read from the remote file system or CD-ROM is stored in a disk-based cache on the local system. Subsequent read requests to the same data are fulfilled by the local cache, which improves read performance."

Of course, a migration is not always an option, and I'm not sure if something like this available for Linux.

Re:Never mind ZFS (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569723)

I don't know about several-hundred-gigabyte, but Linux's smbfs does pretty good caching, better than NFS in my experience.

crackhead idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19570265)

You need a server to run samba. it needs decent CPU.

You need NBD (network block device) clients on all those workstations with the spare disk.

Your samba server uses these NBD blocks in a RAID5+1 or whatever, array, which exports to the network. ... your network then melts under doubled traffic for disk requests, probably :)

CacheFS (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570433)

Red Hat is working on it.

Cheesy Intro to ZFS Video (4, Informative)

kaleco (801384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568727)

If you can suffer the bizarre presentation style Sun have used for this video [google.com] , it's quite informative about the benefits of ZFS.

Re:Cheesy Intro to ZFS Video (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570233)

Talking about bizarre presentation [hitachigst.com] of technology, nothing beats a singing ensemble of hard drive parts and bits.

Why the big deal about booting from it? (3, Insightful)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568815)

Really? Stick an old 20gb drive in as your boot drive and boot from whatever you have to to get up and going, load ZFS modules, mount all drives and enjoy. What's so terrible about booting from a different drive / file system? Most mobos now let you hang boatloads of drives of all types on them.
I can't think of any reason why it would be so terrible to boot up from an old 20gb with ext2/ext3 or anything else, then run the rest of your system under whatever. I'm doing that now anyway, I boot from ext2 then everything else is ext3. Doesn't make my performance suffer any that I can tell.

Besides, I suspect that most people that would run ZFS are the type of people that leave their machines up for months at a time. In that case, why the panic attacks over booting issues?

I hope they can find some way to resolve the license issues, I'm excited about ZFS (in concept and theory) and I would love to give it a go. Finally a system that's up with the times.

Re:Why the big deal about booting from it? (1, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569083)

Really? Stick an old 20gb drive in as your boot drive and boot from whatever you have to to get up and going, load ZFS modules, mount all drives and enjoy. What's so terrible about booting from a different drive / file system? Most mobos now let you hang boatloads of drives of all types on them.

By using a single boot drive you are introducing a single point of failure. But booting from a ZFS volume spread across multiple physical volumes means that even the boot process is protected by redundancy. It also allows you to enjoy all the many other benefits of ZFS, such as the RAID-like behavior, the ability to grow partitions, et cetera.

I can't think of any reason why it would be so terrible to boot up from an old 20gb with ext2/ext3 or anything else, then run the rest of your system under whatever.

That's because you lack imagination and, apparently, experience.

Besides, I suspect that most people that would run ZFS are the type of people that leave their machines up for months at a time. In that case, why the panic attacks over booting issues?

In a responsible work environment, we would like things to happen on time every time. That includes rebooting.

If a machine is up for months at a time, then it clearly did not get critical security updates, which often are in the kernel. You should never have uptime that high. High uptimes are for fanboys (my machine has been up for 369 days! and I've only been owned twice!)

Finally a system that's up with the times.

Actually, ZFS is missing a lot of functionality that we'd like to see in a modern filesystem. But it's a better effort than most.

Re:Why the big deal about booting from it? (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569825)

a machine is up for months at a time, then it clearly did not get critical security updates, which often are in the kernel. You should never have uptime that high.


Depends on what the machine's doing, my friend. If you have dozens of people you don't know on shell accounts, sure, you better keep the kernel current - scheduled downtimes to do that are fine, and the inevitable kernel panics because the latest kernel introduces a new bug for your particular hardware configuration - well, the users will understand.

On the other hand, if you have no shell accounts, but just are running one or a few public-facing daemons, if you keep those daemons current, and follow solid security practices in configuring and using them, and lock down your firewall - well, if the kernel's stable, and your business's customers expect you up 24x7, why the heck should you want to be on the front lines testing the latest kernel release? In 14 years of running public-facing systems I've taken both strategies. I've had systems I kept on the bleeding kernel edge - and filed at least one fundamental bug report to the kernel folk about a most inconvenient cause of random kernel panic that took them months for them to eradicate. And I've had systems where I let the kernel get a few years out-of-date - and never had a system owned. Have I been lucky? Sure. But if you've kept running bleeding-edge kernels without downtime, you've been lucky too.

Re:Why the big deal about booting from it? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570065)

On the other hand, if you have no shell accounts, but just are running one or a few public-facing daemons, if you keep those daemons current, and follow solid security practices in configuring and using them, and lock down your firewall - well, if the kernel's stable, and your business's customers expect you up 24x7, why the heck should you want to be on the front lines testing the latest kernel release?

Because all it takes is one remote hole in the kernel, perhaps in the IP stack or the firewalling code, and you have been owned.

By definition, unless you are using a proxy system for ingress, any holes in those systems are still quite accessible through the firewall if any services are exposed.

But if you've kept running bleeding-edge kernels without downtime, you've been lucky too.

I haven't, because I install security patches. The one time I didn't, I got owned (www.circus.com's index.html pages were all replaced by some group back in the day, probably through a known vulnerability.)

True, even Linux uses this approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19569095)

Very true. And its not just drives which matter here; basicly you're talking filesystems so this issue can simply cover several partitions. Just take a look at the latest Ubuntu and try to install it onto a single partition. You'll get an error warning you that Grub might have a problem with this setup and that its adviced to use a seperate /boot partition or use Lilo.

If thats "commonly accepted" (I know I'm generalizing) then whats so bad about doing the same with ZFS? Maybe because this gem is a Sun product and no matter what Sun does for the open source movement as a whole or, in this thread, Linux in particular some people simple need to have something to whine about. Ofcourse thats just my 2 cents here.

Re:Why the big deal about booting from it? (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569353)

What's so terrible about booting from a different drive / file system?

Nothing per se, but AIUI ZFS allows you to specify how much (if any) redundancy you want, which with other filesystems requires setting up RAID separately which in turn adds complexity.

I suspect that most people that would run ZFS are the type of people that leave their machines up for months at a time. In that case, why the panic attacks over booting issues?

Generally speaking, the kind of system that you want to have up for months at a time is also the kind of system you want to come back up as quickly and painlessly as possible should something happen which causes/necessitates a reboot. That's one of the main reasons journalling was invented.

I'm excited about ZFS (in concept and theory) and I would love to give it a go. Finally a system that's up with the times.

Not sure about "up with the times". I have yet to see any convincing explanation of what amazing features ZFS offers which hasn't been in AIX's logical volume management system for years.

Re:Why the big deal about booting from it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19570453)

Not sure about "up with the times". I have yet to see any convincing explanation of what amazing features ZFS offers which hasn't been in AIX's logical volume management system for years.


Checksumming. Ditto blocks. Creation of multi-terabyte file systems in seconds.

Re:Why the big deal about booting from it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19569889)

If you are NOT running linux in your mom's basement, it really helps not having to put old 20gb disks in your systems. You don't have to use different physical disks to run different filesystems btw, just use partitions. Why boot from ext2? The only problem with booting linux i remember is the reiserfs and notail ordeal. Grub and lilo boots ext3 fine.

Time for L4 / Coyotos / Mach / Hurd? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19568839)

Maybe a microkernel OS wouldn't have this problem. But then again, people can put any restrictions they want in a license, can't they?

Most important distinction is not kernel-space (or monolithic) vs. user-space (or microkernel) but rather whether the license allows linking with incompatibly licensed software. I.e. if the relevant parts of the OS have an LGPL-like license rather than GPL-like.

Lets be realistic (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568853)

there's hope that performance tweaking could yield a practical elimination of barriers

Hows that memory copy from userspace comming, has it healed up yet?

God damn you slashdot (1)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568861)

I almost jumped out of my skin when I read the headline... then they threw in the little tidbit of information that its running through FUSE. I certainly appreciate the work that went into it, but I'm quiet certain FUSE will never catch up to in-kernel filesystems for speed and performance.

Re:God damn you slashdot (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568993)

Either way, its a start towards getting support on whatever the underlying OS is to support someodd filesystem until the licensing bs can be worked around...

Parts of ZFS already GPLv2'd (5, Informative)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568867)

According to Darren Moffat at SUN, parts of ZFS are already licensed under the GPL v2. Maybe there is still hope for a native solution. Not, of course, that I mind using FUSE.

http://blogs.sun.com/darren/entry/zfs_under_gplv2_ already_exists [sun.com]

Now about that headline, yes I really did say that ZFS code is already available under the GPLv2. I will be completely honest though and make it clear that it isn't all of the ZFS source. It is, sufficient amount to be able to boot an OpenSolaris based system from GRUB, that means that support for mirroring and the checksum and compression support is there but radiz isn't nor are the userland commands. It is possible that this might be enough to get someone started. Still don't believe me check out the updated GRUB source on opensolaris.org, specifically all the files with zfs in their name - every single one of them under the GPLv2 or later.

Re:Parts of ZFS already GPLv2'd (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569441)

afaik the problem with ZFS under linux is not ZFS not being GPL, but software patents that Sun is holding on ZFS. The only (free) way to use ZFS and not infringe any patents is through Sun's license, but I might be wrong...

Re:Parts of ZFS already GPLv2'd (4, Insightful)

thesandbender (911391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569525)

Lets be more specific... ZFS (as a whole) is not GPLv2'd.

From the TFP : Now about that headline, yes I really did say that ZFS code is already available under the GPLv2. I will be completely honest though and make it clear that it isn't all of the ZFS source.

Well that's fantastic... which parts do we get? The ones that make ZFS revolutionary or the ones that make it a rehashed XFS, JFS, Rieser, etc? I don't see how this is any different than any of the bait-n-switch scams that people post to /., digg or other sites. Yes... you can use "part" of the FS but if you want the whole thing you'll have to use Solaris or FUSE (or BSD as others have pointed out).

FUSE defeats the entire purpose. ZFS is meant to run and support a large/huge file store. What admin in their right mind would do that through userspace unless it's solely for backup?

The point is, ZFS is not functionally viable for Linux on the environments for which it was intended.

The headline... (4, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19568901)

ZFS On Linux - It's Alive!
Shouldn't it be more like:

ZFS On Linux - It's Alive!! IT IS ALIVE!!! MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

The manic laughter is especially important!

Re:The headline... (1)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570185)

They covered that in the "dept." identifier...

Legal question (3, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569081)

Why couldn't ZFS be distributed separately in kernel module form and installed by the user? Ubuntu and others integrate mscorefonts, NVidia drivers and others this way. Is the OpenSolaris license so heinous that it's worse than those examples?

I doubt it.

Re:Legal question (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569775)

Well yes, it is that heinous. It would simply be illegal under current terms to run it this way. It would be interesting, however, to develop such a rogue project and see if Sun is really OSS friendly or if they would be ready to send cease and desist letters to such a project. Linus suggests that Sun's apparent friendliness toward linux and OSS is only a pose, let's figure !

kernel patch? (3, Funny)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569189)

Why couldn't this be implemented in the kernel and have the patches to that kernel be hosted in a country which doesn't care too much about licensing?

That's great! (3, Funny)

greginnj (891863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569459)


... but does it run on Plan 9 ?



/me ducks ....

Re:That's great! (1)

BattleBlow (633941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569729)

Maybe not, but it does run on FreeBSD [freebsd.org] .

Good to see Linux catching up. Too bad it won't be in the kernel for you ;).

Re:That's great! (1)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569799)

... but does it run on Plan 9 ?
Nobody care about Plan 9. The real question is: does it run on Haiku ?

sounds really great and all (1)

MadJo (674225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569527)

But does it run on Windows?

Why is it called "128-bit"? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#19569673)

I have been wondering this for awhile now and I finally have a relevant story to ask it on: Is ZFS 128-bit or not? It claims to be 128-bit, but Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] gives:

  • 2^48 - Number of snapshots in any file system (2 × 1014)
  • 2^48 - Number of files in any individual file system (2 × 1014)
  • 16 EiB (2^64 bytes) - Maximum size of a file system
  • 16 EiB - Maximum size of a single file
  • 16 EiB - Maximum size of any attribute
  • 256 ZiB (2^78 bytes) - Maximum size of any zpool
  • 2^56 - Number of attributes of a file (actually constrained to 2^48 for the number of files in a ZFS file system)
  • 2^56 - Number of files in a directory (actually constrained to 2^48 for the number of files in a ZFS file system)
  • 2^64 - Number of devices in any zpool
  • 2^64 - Number of zpools in a system
  • 2^64 - Number of file systems in a zpool

What is it about ZFS that leads to it being a 128-bit filesystem?

Re:Why is it called "128-bit"? (1)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570215)

128 bit addresses, perhaps?

Re:Why is it called "128-bit"? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#19570271)

Define "address." That was the thought I had, but I couldn't find anything that actually specified a 128-bit pointer to data in ZFS.
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