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Old 11-17-2020, 10:24 AM   #1
cwizardone
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Btrfs and Slackware.


There has been a great deal of work done on Btrfs since Red Hat adopted it as the default file system for Fedora.
Has anyone used the B-tree file system with Slackware?
Any thoughts, good, bad or indifferent?
Pros or cons?

Last edited by cwizardone; 11-17-2020 at 10:48 AM.
 
Old 11-17-2020, 11:09 AM   #2
truepatriot76
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Using it for software raid10 on a 4 disk array... no complaints, works well. I would like to switch over another partition to take advantage of snapshots which is unavailable in raid - on the todo list.

Last edited by truepatriot76; 11-17-2020 at 11:10 AM.
 
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Old 11-17-2020, 11:39 AM   #3
pchristy
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I did try it on a single disk that I use for video storage. It did not end well! I didn't lose anything, but the disk was showing full when the files on it accounted for less than half the space that should have been available. Apparently this is not uncommon!

IIRC its something to do with "tree balancing" (?). I tried the recommended remedy (some CLI command that I don't recall), but it didn't help. I backed the disk up, re-formatted it to ext4, and its been fine since.

Shame, because I understand it has a lot to offer, but my experience says beware!

--
Pete
 
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Old 11-17-2020, 12:39 PM   #4
foobaru
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I've been using btrfs as / on my Slackware and Gentoo boxes for several years now. The only issue is needing a separate /boot due to lilo and making sure there's btrfs support in the kernel/initrd. Btrfs snapshots are extremely convenient. Zero issues with data loss or performance.
 
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Old 11-17-2020, 12:52 PM   #5
Gerard Lally
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwizardone View Post
There has been a great deal of work done on Btrfs since Red Hat adopted it as the default file system for Fedora.
Has anyone used the B-tree file system with Slackware?
Any thoughts, good, bad or indifferent?
Pros or cons?
And it's not that long since Red Hat announced it would be no longer supporting btrfs.

Considering I have data on my disks going back to 1993, am I likely to trust them while they flip flop on the filesystem for which they want people to act as their guinea pigs?

No chance.
 
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Old 11-17-2020, 01:02 PM   #6
chemfire
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I use it and love it. With the default subvolume feature not its so easy to be able to make snapshots of even the system partition, for differential backups and testing. Its also so much easier than dealing with LVM to manage storage pools.

I highly recommend it, especially if you are on current and want to be able to do things like say take Pat's ktwon packages for a spin and go back if you don't like it.
 
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Old 11-17-2020, 05:31 PM   #7
Uncle Lumpy
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I'm using it as Raid 1 on a couple of systems and Raid 10 on my data server. I figure it works as well on Slackware as it does on any other linux distribution. Now whether or not it's right for your intended usage, well, that's a different question.

Best,
Lumpy
 
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Old 11-17-2020, 11:34 PM   #8
thirdm
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I had used it on a Debian install on the same disk as my Slackware install. I've stopped using Debian but for now still occasionally access files from its partition using 14.2. No problems there.

Eventually, I'll get rid of it and use ZFS instead or else stick with ext4. It was neat, but once the novelty wears off and I get a feel for how much space each partition needs, I tend to forget about the extra features. Except ZFS has one feature I like, you can set up a dataset (filesystem) to make a second copy of each file. That in combination with its file integrity checksums makes me feel better about my son's pictures falling to data rust (or, uh, whatsthename?). I could manually set something equivalent up, but it's nice to have out of the box. Does btrfs have such a feature? Now someone's going to tell me, "even ext4 has that you bonehead."

The trouble with ZFS and btrfs is there's zero chance OpenBSD will ever read either. Might as well be using the Hammer fs on that end. My end goal is to get OpenBSD working on this laptop and make that my primary system. At least with ext4 OpenBSD's ext2 driver copes to a degree. ZFS is a little better than btrfs this way, since NetBSD supports it.

This is not to say I'd stop using Slackware of course. Chronic multibooter. And Slackware is special in its way. It's like the cantina on Tatooine to OpenBSD's jedi council room (that analogy doesn't work -- which Jedi is Bob Beck, exactly, is there like a stand up comic jedi?). All depends on your mood. And there are all these programs I never would have noticed if not for Slackware: jed, joe, xv, neofetch, xroach corrected for speed by Labinnah etc.
 
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Old 11-18-2020, 05:57 AM   #9
imitheos
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwizardone View Post
There has been a great deal of work done on Btrfs since Red Hat adopted it as the default file system for Fedora.
Has anyone used the B-tree file system with Slackware?
Any thoughts, good, bad or indifferent?
Pros or cons?
Has there been so much work done after Fedora adopted it ? BTRFS has indeed seen much work done but it is done constantly for years, not because Fedora chose to adopt it.

If you care mostly about performance, then as ZFS and any other CoW, it will not have the speed of XFS and ext4 but it is not crawling also. You get the checksums for everything (XFS only has for metadata i think) and compression is very useful. You might not care about the space saved with todays disks but you also get a speed advantage because even with SSDs, the cpu can read+decompress X KiB quite faster than read 1.5 * X KiB. And of course snapshots & subvolumes are very convenient. You don't get the LVM overhead of umount, shrink, enlarge, mount procedure. I also use subvolumes for quick chroots of other distros.

About cons and problems, i use it for a very long time (almost from the start) and never had any problems. There were many cases that the algorithm returned that there is no space left, when there was space left but all these problems have been fixed for some time now. I personally never had any of them maybe because i only used it in single disk configurations and never had it fill > 80% and also always used the latest stable kernel and not distribution kernels (now i am on 5.9.7).

From what i read, the raid1/10 implementations are stable but have some features missing like not reading from both drives and stuff like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pchristy View Post
I did try it on a single disk that I use for video storage. It did not end well! I didn't lose anything, but the disk was showing full when the files on it accounted for less than half the space that should have been available. Apparently this is not uncommon!

IIRC its something to do with "tree balancing" (?). I tried the recommended remedy (some CLI command that I don't recall), but it didn't help. I backed the disk up, re-formatted it to ext4, and its been fine since.
Has there been a long time since you tried it ? It used to have many out-of-space errors but the problems have mostly been fixed for some time now.

A problem that occurred some time ago was also bad choices if i may call them that. Let's say i read all the awesome features that btrfs had and tried it by creating a single subvolume for everything (or one for / and one for /home). Then i also read about how awesome snapper is and installed it to have automatic snapshots.

Let's say i download a 5 season tv series which occupies 60GiB and immediately burn it to a Bluray for safekeeping. In my mind, the 60Gib have been deleted from the disk, but due to snapper automatically creating snapshots every hour, the 60 GiB are still there (and may be there for up to a year). So, i post to fora and btrfs mailing list furious about how crap btrfs is. How come it says it doesn't have space when i don't have anything on the hard disk.

I have read many posts in fora of users saying "but how could i know that the space wasn't freed. i used ext4 for years and never had such problems". I am not saying that everytime it was the user's fault. BTRFS has had many problems in the past, but because it provides many more features than ext4, it maybe needs a bit more thought from the admin / user than ext4. Nowadays, this problem has been mostly solved by the distribution installers creating many subvolumes for "problematic" paths.

The same happens for ZFS too. There are many howtos that mention creating different datasets for certain paths for increased performance (and even 2 datasets for the same path in certain cases like bittorrent. one dataset with small record size like 16K for initial downloading and another dataset with 1MB record size for after the downloading is finished).

Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdm View Post
Except ZFS has one feature I like, you can set up a dataset (filesystem) to make a second copy of each file. That in combination with its file integrity checksums makes me feel better about my son's pictures falling to data rust (or, uh, whatsthename?). I could manually set something equivalent up, but it's nice to have out of the box. Does btrfs have such a feature? Now someone's going to tell me, "even ext4 has that you bonehead."
I don't think btrfs has this feature, but even in zfs's case it isn't as failproof as it sounds. There were some zfs users that done tests in the past corrupting random sectors, and even with copies=2 or 3, most of the files were toast. Only with raid redundancy, there was real safety.
 
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Old 11-18-2020, 08:23 AM   #10
jr_bob_dobbs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerard Lally View Post
And it's not that long since Red Hat announced it would be no longer supporting btrfs.
WHAT? That's nuts. I recall distinctively when they (Red Hat) anounced they were making BTRFS the default file system from now on, yada yada.

Indecision is a terrible thing.

Hmm! Following that pattern might, they also flip-flop on init systems? I'd love to get the popcorn and sit down to watch that one.

Anyway, about three or so years ago I set up Slackware on someone else's desktop for them. Three partitions: one ext2 for /boot, one for swap and the rest of the HD as BRFS. I don't recall having to do anything special beyond making an initramfs/initrd. No problems yet.

Note: the only special BTRF feature I used was subvolumes, none of the compression nor encryption functions.

Last edited by jr_bob_dobbs; 11-18-2020 at 08:27 AM.
 
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Old 11-18-2020, 10:03 PM   #11
thirdm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imitheos View Post
I don't think btrfs has this feature, but even in zfs's case it isn't as failproof as it sounds. There were some zfs users that done tests in the past corrupting random sectors, and even with copies=2 or 3, most of the files were toast. Only with raid redundancy, there was real safety.
The term I was trying to think of was bitrot (not rust). I can't or won't use raid on a laptop, but was hoping to avoid the very minor but annoying problems where a bit or two flips,e.g. from cosmic rays. If the drive starts going, I'm not expecting multiple copies on the same disk to help me any.

So not much protection even from bitrot?

Come to think of it this protection, it's kind of opaque to me. I don't know or understand ZFS very well and am not sure how I'd assure myself these two copies will do what I want them to or know how it looks when ZFS's checksums don't match. Maybe I need to be running scrubs for this feature to even come into play, something I haven't gotten around to yet. In a way I'd rather use a simple fs and manually stick second copies in a hidden subdirectory with an md5sum. Then I'd know what's going on, what I have. It would also be more granular and be a potential source of extra space should I run out. E.g. that picture of my ex-girlfriend is not a picture I need two copies of after all.

But there's a real gee whiz factor to these featureful filesystems. Have to think about it.
 
Old 11-19-2020, 08:03 AM   #12
Didier Spaier
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jr_bob_dobbs View Post
WHAT? That's nuts. I recall distinctively when they (Red Hat) anounced they were making BTRFS the default file system from now on, yada yada.

Indecision is a terrible thing.
Meanwhile btrfs is the default in Fedora33, recently released
As we say here "il n'y a que les imbéciles qui ne changent pas d'avis" (deepl.com translates that to "only fools don't change their minds").
 
Old 11-19-2020, 08:16 AM   #13
chemfire
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I just don't buy into the entire bit rot thing being a real issue. If you are operating some giant storage array with 100TB+ of file storage or a corporation much of which isn't touched often, its probably an issue. For your personal laptop it probably does not happen much at all because if it did a whole lot of people would have a whole lot more problems than they do.

Really the *correct* way to solve this for regular people is backups, and more specifically versioned backups. If you run into a corrupt file you restore it from you backup going back as far as you have to find a sane copy. Really in all my years of using personal computers, I really have never encounter this issue on a fixed disk. I have corrupted files due to sudden power loss, I have had unstable systems (386->486 upgrade cpus) eat ever file they touched while the system was running, I have had the entire disk fail, I have had drives do the click of death thing, but I have never just seen a random file go bad that was not explained by one the aforementioned issues. I have seen things happen on my big arrays back in my sys-op days but in those environments its hard to know if it was a software problem or really 'bit-rot'.

I think BTRFS could really actually help you here. I would suggest if you are really worried about this to look into how snapshots and send/receive works. Make daily incremental backups (fast and cheap in terms of storage) of whatever you care about be it your home directory or the entire system or whatever, and start from a new full backup each month or each week if you like. Keep as much history as you can. Store the backups on separate media. Keep as much backup history as you can afford to.
 
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Old 11-19-2020, 08:16 AM   #14
gargamel
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It's also been the default for system partition in OpenSUSE for a while now, while for /home they use XFS by default.
Regarding XFS: Red Hat is currently putting quite some effort into it to make it kind of a better butter FS (Btrfs).
Let's see, where and how far they can carry it.
 
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Old 11-19-2020, 11:27 AM   #15
cwizardone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imitheos View Post
Has there been so much work done after Fedora adopted it ? BTRFS has indeed seen much work done but it is done constantly for years, not because Fedora chose to adopt it......
Au contraire!
I browse the kernel change logs from time to time and the amount of Btrfs patches and changes have increased noticeably since Red Hat announced it would be the default file system for Fedora.
 
  


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