[rescue] Filesystem choice for fileserver?

Peter Corlett abuse at cabal.org.uk
Thu Apr 17 06:26:50 CDT 2008

On Thu, Apr 17, 2008 at 12:09:14PM +0100, Michael-John Turner wrote:
> Naturally, my first choice would be ZFS, but it's only stable on Solaris
> (and maybe FreeBSD), neither of which are supported as VMware host
> platforms.

But there *is* Xen dom0 support.

> My Linux filesystem of choice used to be reiserfs version 3, but that's
> pretty much in maintenance only mode these days.

It was never particularly reliable even when it was being maintained. Never
trust a filesystem that doesn't have good recovery tools.

More than once I have found myself trying to fix a problem without the
recovery tools Hans assured us were not necessary. Usually the only fix
available was mke2fs and restore from backup.

> I'm very keen on XFS, what with its solid SGI heritage, but I've read a
> few horror stories of people who've lost data using it.

I played with that too. What I discovered was that while it was good at
keeping metadata consistent, this didn't apply to the data. Finding
/etc/fstab full of NULs after an unplanned powercycle can ruin one's day.

> There's also JFS, which I have no experience with and doesn't seem
> particularly popular,

I haven't used this and can't comment.

> and ext3, which I'm not a fan of because of it's semi-async nature.

This is my preferred filesystem on Linux because it is the default and thus
well-tested. It's a superset of ext2, which is in turn somewhat based on
Minix and UFS filesystems, and so the design is sound and simple. I *like*
my filesystems to be simple rather than clever.

ext3 has a number of options that you can use to tune between performance
and reliability. I routinely use noatime and dir_index now and that really
does make it rather faster than ext2, and no less reliable.

> Anyone got any thoughts on this? What's everyone using for their
> fileserver needs these days?

I just have a scummy old Debian box with a couple of internal disks and a
couple more USB disks crammed in the back. I use software RAID1 for extra

Since it is now full, I am going to have to finally build its replacement,
the parts of which have been lying around for a few months now waiting for

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