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Sun Microsystems Linux

Running ZFS Natively On Linux Slower Than Btrfs 235

An anonymous reader writes "It's been known that ZFS is coming to Linux in the form of a native kernel module done by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and KQ Infotech. The ZFS module is still in closed testing on KQ infotech's side (but LLNL's ZFS code is publicly available), and now Phoronix has tried out the ZFS file-system on Linux and carried out some tests. ZFS on Linux via this native module is much faster than using ZFS-FUSE, but the Solaris file-system in most areas is not nearly as fast as EXT4, Btrfs, or XFS."
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Running ZFS Natively On Linux Slower Than Btrfs

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  • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:14AM (#34306858) Homepage

    OpenAFS, which still today provides features unavailable in any other production-ready network filesystem, is a nightmare to use in the real world because of its lack of integration with the mainline kernel. It's licensed under the "IPL", which like the CDDL is free-software/open source but not GPL compatible.

    ZFS is very cool, but this approach is doomed to fail. It's much better to devote resources to getting our native filesystems up to speed -- or, ha, into convincing Oracle to relicense.

    Personally, I was pretty sure Sun was going to go with relicensing under the GPLv3, which gives strong patent protection and would have put them in the hilarious position of being more-FSF free software than Linux. But with Oracle trying to squeeze the monetary blood from every last shred of good that came from Sun, who knows what's gonna happen.

  • Re:They Why ZFS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:21AM (#34306946)

    ZFS is, until BtrFS hits truly enterprise stable, the only FS for large disks, in my opinion. I currently run ZFS on about 10 TB. I never worry about a corrupt file system, never have to fsck it. And snapshots are cheap and fast. I shapshot the entire 10 TB array in about 30 minutes (about 2000 file systems). Then I back up from the snapshot. In other areas of the disk I do hourly snapshotting. Indeed snapshots are the kill feature for me for ZFS. LVM has snapshots, true, but they are not quick or convenient compared to ZFS. In LVM I can only snapshot to unused space in the volume set. With ZFS you can snapshot as long as you have free space. The integration of volume management and the file system may break a lot of people's ideas of clear separation between layers, but from the admin's point of view it is really nice.

    We'll ditch ZFS and Solaris once BtrFS is ready. BtrFS is close, though; should work well for things like home servers, so try it out if you have a large MythTV system.

  • Not bad news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:35AM (#34307108)

    It's still under development. But it's already pretty competitive, doing reasonably well in many tests.

    And then there's this (on the last page) "Ending out our tests we had the PostMark test where the performance of the ZFS Linux kernel module done by KQ Infotech and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories was slaughtered. The disk transaction performance for ZFS on this native Linux kernel module was even worse than using ZFS-FUSE and was almost at half the speed of this test when run under the OpenSolaris-based OpenIndiana distribution."

    Ok, maybe someone can disabuse me of a misconception that I have, but: There's no reason that ZFS in the kernel should be slower than a FUSE version. That means there's something wrong. If they figure out what's wrong and fix it, that could very likely affect the results in some or all of the other tests.

    ZFS isn't done yet, and it already looks like it might be worth the trade-off for the features ZFS provides. And performance might get somewhat better. This article is good news (though that final benchmark is distressing, especially when you look at the ZFS running on OpenSolaris).

    It says: "When KQ Infotech releases these ZFS packages to the public in January and rebases them against a later version of ZFS/Zpool, we will publish more benchmarks."

    and I'm looking forward to that new article.

  • Re:They Why ZFS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <.ten.frow. .ta. .todhsals.> on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:36AM (#34307118)

    The main reason to use ZFS over the other ones, even in cases where the features are the same is that ZFS is more widely available. Admittedly, it's far from universal, but right now it's officially supported in more than one OS. I'm not aware of a filesystem that provides similar functionality to ZFS which is more widely available.

    Actually, I've run into this problem, not with ZFS (haven't used it), but with other filesystems, on Linux only. It seems not all filesystems are truly endian-aware, so moving a USB disk created on a big-endian system and moving it to a little endian system results in a non-working filesystem. Had to actually go and use that system to mount the disk.

    Somewhat annoying if you want to pull a RAID array our of a Linux-running big-endian system in the hopes that you can recover the data... only to find out it was using XFS or other non-endian-friendly FS and basically not be able to get at the data...

  • Re:They Why ZFS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:37AM (#34307126) Journal
    Question about ZFS, say I have a bunch of ZFS filesystems on a bunch of physical drives or drive arrays on Solaris/OpenSolaris/OpenIndiana.

    How do I figure out which physical drives/devices a particular ZFS filesystem depends on?

    And if a physical drive is faulty, how would I know which actual physical drive it is? e.g. get its serial number or physical slot/bay/position or whatever.
  • Re:They Why ZFS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @11:47AM (#34307272)
    L2ARC is a HUGE performance improvement for many workloads, it essentially allows you to use faster disks to cache the most frequently used data. If they had combined the SSD and the 7200 RPM SATA drive and benchmarked a real world workload the ZFS implementation would have probably stomped the others because it would have used the SSD for the 'hot' data, the best you can do with btrfs is to place the metadata on the SSD.
  • Re:They Why ZFS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @12:41PM (#34307906)


    Wrong answer. XFS is extremely prone to data corruption if the system goes down uncleanly for any reason. We may strive for nine nines, but stuff still happens. A power failure on a large XFS volume is almost guaranteed to lead to truncated files and general lost data. Not so on ZFS.

    30 minutes? That's insane. An LVM2 snapshot would take seconds. I fail to see how that's not quick, and how "lvcreate -s" is less convenient.

    Glad to know LVM is faster though. However, as I stated before it's not convenient. With ZFS I do the following things:
    - snapshot the works every night, and keep 7 days worth of snapshots.
    - some directories are snapshotted every night, but I keep 365 snapshots (one year). For example the directories that our financial folk use.
    - snapshot important directories every hour, keep 24 hours worth

    You simply cannot do that with LVM. Sorry. How would I know how much free volume space to plan for? If I have a 10 TB disk, do I plan to use 6 TB of it and leave 4 TB for snapshots? Snapshots consume as much space as subsequent changes. For the 365 say snapshots, this could be a lot or very little depending on what has been touched.

    I can't even make sense of these two sentences. What you're saying is, an LVM snapshot requires free space, and er, a ZFS snapshot requires free space?

    It's very simple. LVM snapshots require free volume set space. If your volume group is 10 TB, then you must leave unallocated space on it for the snapshots to consume. On ZFS you don't need to do this. Any free space on the file system can be used for either files or snapshots; it's all the same pool. To do snapshots with LVM the way I do with ZFS would require me to set aside a lot of space. Very unefficient and wasteful.

    As far as I can tell, BtrFS will work in a similar way to ZFS, bypassing the need for LVM. Which I'm totally okay with.

  • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:53PM (#34308846) Homepage

    Um, just who do you think is writing BTRFS? [] I know its fashionable to knock Oracle every chance you get... but Look at the line:

    As I understand it, Chris Mason brought his btrfs work with him when he started at Oracle, or at least the ideas for it. A kernel hacker of his caliber probably started the job with an agreement of exactly how that was going to go.

    Oracle is a big organization; it's not surprising they act in apparently contradictory ways. They've done a reasonable amount of good open source work and made community contributions. But I stand by the statement that it's impossible to make a good prediction as to what Oracle is going to do with anything that comes from the Sun acquisition -- but you certainly don't need to take my word for it that most of the behavior so far seems to be aimed at short-term monetization rather than long-term community growth.

Their idea of an offer you can't refuse is an offer... and you'd better not refuse.