Thoughts on ReiserFS

I recently watched a video of Hans Reiser’s presentation on ReiserFS, a journalling filesystem. It piqued my curiosity, so I visited the ReiserFS website to read more about the filesystem. I ended up un-learning some things I thought I knew, and had some thoughts to share on ReiserFS in general.

  • The Reiser team believes equal access to source code is a civil right. I agree.
  • I’ve been using version 3 for a long time. As far as I’m concerned, it’s been the best choice for a journalling filesystem since it was created. I’ve never lost any data whatsoever from a ReiserFS filesystem (though if my hard drive ever truly failed, the filesystem wouldn’t matter). Version 4 is out of the oven now (ok, so I’m a few years behind…), and it looks absolutely amazing. I think I will upgrade going forward.
  • The performance enhancements in version 4 are stunning. Consider this: for the first time in history, a compressed filesystem is faster than an uncompressed one. What does that mean? It means the real bottleneck is reading/writing the data on the disk, and the compression and decompression is so fast that it’s less expensive to do a bunch of computation and transfer less data, than to do less computation and transfer more data. That is remarkable.
  • ReiserFS is faster, scales better, and is more space-efficient than any other filesystem, according to the benchmarks on their website.

ReiserFS has a lot of implications not only for ordinary file-storage, but for special purpose systems too. It’ll be interesting to see what the next few years bring.

About The Author

Baron is the founder and CEO of VividCortex. He is the author of High Performance MySQL and many open-source tools for performance analysis, monitoring, and system administration. Baron contributes to various database communities such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, Redis and MongoDB.