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Old 06-11-2008, 03:54 PM   #1
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File System Question

Since the demise of Hans Reiser, I am wondering if Reiserfs is going to stay the default on Slackware. It has been a while since I did a full install, and can't remember if it changed or not.

Reiserfs is what I have been using, but is there another option that is faster or more reliable? I don't know too much about file systems, but hope we can open up an interesting debate. I am a home user, and I don't RAID or anything else.
Old 06-11-2008, 04:14 PM   #2
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At the moment ext3 is the Slackware default. I've been running that on one machine with SW 12 (a while ago) and found it too slow...
Now I use JFS and am quite happy with it. It's fast and I've had some hardware problems where JFS showed it was very reliable.
Old 06-11-2008, 04:45 PM   #3
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If you want supreme compatibility with userland tools, then ext3 is your best bet. Most people should probably stick with ext3. If you want increased speed, JFS and XFS are both good (I think XFS is a little better in some aspects, but they're both pretty good, and either one will offer a speed increase over ext3). See here for various benchmarking tests for the common filesystems. If you use JFS or XFS, you will probably never run into compatibility or feature problems -- but their userland tools are *technically* less featured, in case you're super-worried.
Old 06-11-2008, 04:50 PM   #4
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I myself prefer JFS. I have had been curious about XFS, but the aspect of a delayed write-to / arbitrary write down of information has kept me away. As far as ReiserFS is concerned, there haven't been any announcements from Pat that he will remove the FS, nor anything from that would suggest that they would also remove it, however ReiserFS v4 is still not officially included in either Slackware or the kernel code itself, and at this point I don't think v4 will ever be included inside the kernel sources.

At this point, I don't see ReiserFS ever going away, and perhaps sooner or later the only thing that might change is the name itself, but even that remains to be seen. Also, I think even Pat uses ReiserFS for his / partition. Just read the README.initrd.
Old 06-11-2008, 05:19 PM   #5
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It all boils down to what you need. I use xfs on my / and /home partitions. I just find it very snappy and less prone to lag I notice with ext3. I have used JFS and find it just as snappy and uses less CPU(possibly good for laptop/older hardware). But ext3 is very very stable. I have two storage/backup drives with ext3. I use ext3 on those drives for one reason, stability. I can pretty much use ext3 in any OS(usually need to download some program but it is possible). reiserfs is fantastic with small files, and most people deal with those type of files. So that is one advantage to reiserfs. JFS and XFS only use metadata journaling so that is something to look into. As a home user you have a higher potential for blackouts/power-failure and all that kind of good stuff. So do a little research and you will find what is best for you. I say say ext3 is probably your best bet as of now, and ext4 will probably be it there after. JFS is basically no longer maintained(with the exclusion of bugfixes). XFS seems to be maintained but I am unsure of its standing. ext3 and ext4 have a good and solid backing from many companies(redhat to list one), so If I was looking for something in the long term ext3 is it for me.

This is mostly how I "feel" about filesystems currently. Other people may be able to give better insight.
Old 06-12-2008, 02:07 AM   #6
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Reiser's not dead yet.

XFS and JFS are better than ext3/ext4 and probably better than reiserfs in many situations, although it depends. I use JFS.

If you want some benchmarks to help you decide:
Old 06-12-2008, 02:32 AM   #7
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Does it really make that much of a difference for a home machine? I've always used ext3 and haven't had any problems with it being slow or anything.
Old 06-12-2008, 03:46 AM   #8
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This general question (about the properties of filesystems, rather than about the status of Hans Reiser) has been asked several times before.

Be aware that in benchmarking filesystems the answer that you get is heavily dependant on what question you ask. There is not one filesystem that is universally better than the others, but there probably is a best for a particular application (but the best for your application can easily be different from the best in the benchmarking scenario and i probably can't tell you what is the best for your application without knowing lots about it).

Also note that there can, depending on workload, be substantial differences in performance depending exact selection of options and, as the options aren't directly transferrable from on fs to another, it is difficult to know what exactly constitutes a fair/level playing field test of filesystems.

You could describe this as 'horses for courses'.

I did some testing some years ago on boot up times and found Reiser to be faster than ext2, presumably due to the 'small file optimisations'. I was very surprised by this and selected Reiser as my personal default and have not had reason to change. Reiser 4 would be nice, though, as its faster although whether it will be widely available is now questionable (and was questionable, even before Hans Reiser's local difficulties). I'd guess I'm now likely to change to ext4, when that becomes stable and widely available (and assuming that Reiser goes in to 'maintenance mode' rather than 'development mode'), but I haven't yet tried that.
Old 06-12-2008, 05:48 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by salasi View Post
Be aware that in benchmarking filesystems the answer that you get is heavily dependant on what question you ask.
You could describe this as 'horses for courses'.
Very sage.

I had some awful experiences when I first tried reiser3 (many) years ago. Never touched it since, although (as with everything) it's gotten better.
I use ext? exclusively - but note my sigline; no fs can be trusted not to corrupt your data.

Currently just starting on a sojourn into OpenSolaris - ZFS being one of the major reasons.
Linus has proclaimed his fiat on that (under Linux).
Old 06-12-2008, 05:58 AM   #10
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Great, there's a lot of JFS user in slackware just as me
Old 06-12-2008, 06:57 AM   #11
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I use ext3, find it excellent whenever there is a power outage or whatever. I wouldn't worry about things like JFS or XFS, unless you are running production / commercial level servers, in which case there MAY be some reason to go with something other than ext3. I dare say, ext3 is a journalling file system of sorts, for most people it will be perfect.
Old 06-12-2008, 10:38 AM   #12
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I agree that I don't think Reiserfs is going away any time soon.

If you are happy with ext3 then by all means keep using it. If you don't need the journaling them ext2 would probably even be better for you.

JFS is nice for many older machines as it is conservative on CPU usage. XFS, from what I hear, does really well with large files and large file systems.
Old 06-12-2008, 03:19 PM   #13
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I think the older and crappier your computer is the more your filesystem DOES matter. On my old laptop using JFS makes a huge difference on CPU usage especially. JFS has very low CPU usage for file manipulation compared to other filesystems. This is very good for laptops, and especially old ones. Many say that XFS can be tweaked to be much better than pretty much any other filesystem, but it can be less reliable because of the way it extensively caches things in RAM.

You should at least try the other filesystems. I've tried ext3, reiserfs, XFS, and JFS. I've found that the benchmarks are quite accurate, XFS and JFS were noticeably faster for me. And since JFS uses less CPU time, that's the best one for me. Try them and make up your mind, don't just say "I'm sticking with ext3 cuz everyone else uses it, surely what everyone else uses must be good, kinda like Window$"

One more thing you might want to look into is your IO scheduler, I think IO schedulers vary somewhat in performance with respect to your filesystem and type of workload. You can try them out on-the-fly, so there's no reason not to test them and see which one is best. I would recommend testing them with multimedia or games. For example, watch a movie off your HDD, switch IO schedulers and try again. Or if you do something else more often, then do that and try out the different schedulers. I've found deadline to be the best for what I do.

Last edited by H_TeXMeX_H; 06-12-2008 at 03:28 PM.
Old 06-12-2008, 03:42 PM   #14
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I use ext3. Reiserfs could go away in the future, in my humble opinion/prediction because of two things. The first, that there is no official maintainer. Namesys does not maintaing it. They only work on reiser4. Not long ago, I think Novell was maintaining it as it was the default choice in SuSE, but they have moved to ext3 since then. Second, that, as far as I know (maybe this has changed), reiserfs depends on the big kernel lock at least for some critical parts, which prevents it from being run in more than one processor at the same time. In other words, filesystem wise, it's like you only had one CPU, and this can become a performance problem now that dual core machines, or better, are a standard choice.

By the way, anybody using ext3 should probably activate its dir_index option when creating it (this activates a tree index for directories that allows it to handle much better directories with many small files, like reiserfs does), and should probably mount it using the option "barrier=1". It's important if you want to make sure your filesystem is not corrupted on a power outage.
Old 06-12-2008, 11:07 PM   #15
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I saw this article just linked to on /. :

Will read it next. I think I am just going to stick with what I have until my next install. If it isn't broken, why fix it, right?


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