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.

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I'm Baron Schwartz, the founder and CEO of VividCortex. I am the author of High Performance MySQL and lots of open-source software for performance analysis, monitoring, and system administration. I contribute to various database communities such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, Redis and MongoDB. More about me.