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Zettabyte: ZFS the Last Word in File Systems

Increasing capacity by 1,800,000,000,000,000,000,000%.


The Solaris 10 file system may be coming to OS X.

A recent posting at Mac4Ever includes a partial screenshot of a configuration dialog for Disk Utility on OS X 10.5 Leopard with ZFS available as a volume format. ZFS can't be used as a root file system - not even on Solaris 10 - but its presence on Apple's OS X is something of a sensation.

ZFS raises the bar on data storage dramatically with 18.4 x 1018 (18.4 billion billion) times the storage of today's common 64-bit file systems. Its ability to quickly take 'snapshots' of the file system is something pundits are citing as an advantage for Apple with their coming Time Machine facility.

The product of a team led by Sun CTO Jeff Bonwick, ZFS is heralded as a breakthrough technology delivering 'virtually unlimited capacity, provable data integrity, and near-zero administration.' It's also a totally free and open source project, meaning anyone can attach to it and use it for their own.

'Most system administrators take the limitations of current file systems in stride. After all, file systems are what they are: vulnerable to silent data corruption, brutal to manage, and excruciatingly slow', reads the September 2004 blurb from Sun.

'We've rethought everything and rearchitected it. We've thrown away 20 years of old technology that was based on assumptions no longer true today', said Bonwick at the time.

ZFS can use variable size blocks, flip endianness on the run, and has extended attributes which can function as forks.

Currently Apple and Nexenta are entertaining use of ZFS; the RMS based FSF's FOSS are currently experiencing a compatibility difficulty between Sun's approved CDDL open source licence and their own GPL.

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