October 23, 2014
 
 
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An In-Depth Look at Reiserfs - page 7

Included in the Linux kernel

  • January 22, 2001
  • By Scott Courtney

A lot of people are very happy that Reiserfs is being added to the standard Linux kernel. Instead of being a separate, complex process that has to be done on a complete and working system, Reiserfs becomes a part of the normal installation process, just another option that can be selected in your favorite distribution's install tool.

The fast crash-recovery of journaled filesystems, such as Reiserfs, makes Linux more friendly toward novice users. I have seen new users, when faced with a system that sat for a minute or more at the "checking local filesystems..." message, decide that the machine is completely hung when in fact it's just very, very busy. They instinctively reach for the power switch or reset button, a habit that was probably acquired under Windows. OUCH! There is not much worse than killing power during a filesystem check, and if you didn't have disk corruption before, you probably do now! So a journaled filesystem makes Linux behave in a more intuitive way and makes it more forgiving of mistakes like accidentally hitting the power switch or reset button. And, let's face it, even advanced users don't enjoy waiting ten minutes for their systems to reboot.

Having world-class journaled filesystems in Linux also makes it more enterprise-ready for corporate deployments. We all know how seldom Linux crashes if properly installed, but in a major data center application even a few minutes of downtime once a year may be too much, and even a small risk of corrupt filesystems cannot be tolerated. Journaled filesystems bring Linux to parity with commercial UNIX-like systems such as Irix and AIX, and this can only help Linux in the corporate marketplace.

It will take time for the commercial distrubutions to catch up with the kernel, so that Reiserfs is an integral part of the installation. Yet it will happen, and when it does Linux will take another leap forward in usability.

There is, of course, no reason why this benefit is gained only with Reiserfs. The other journaled filesystems (xfs, JFS, and ext3) each have their own advantages, and each offers something the others do not. Reiserfs is the most widely-used right now, and it has the longest track record in the Linux world. Both xfs and JFS are Linux versions of proven commercial filesystems (on Irix and AIX, respectively) but they are still considered beta quality in their Linux incarnations, and their development teams still recommend against using them for production systems. ext3 simply adds the journaling capability to regular ext2, and as such it is less disruptive and potentially less risky -- but it is still called a beta. Hopefully, all four of the journaled filesystems will eventually be part of the standard kernel, letting distribution vendors and users choose the right one for their individual needs.

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