NEW ORLEANS. Three years after Oracle left the Open Solaris and its open source implementation of the ZFS storage filesystem for dead, OpenZFS is alive and well.

At the Linuxcon conference, Matt Ahrens, one of the original co-founders of ZFS at Sun, announced the new OpenZFS effort to help push open source ZFS forward into a new era. ZFS first emerged as Sun Microsystems’ next generation filesystem for the Solaris Unix operating system back in 2005. ZFS is a 128-bit file system with enhanced error detection and correction capabilities and was released at the time under Sun’s community open source license. The project was also a key part of the OpenSolaris project, which was an open source version of Solaris.

Shortly after Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, both OpenSolaris and the open source implementation of ZFS were abandoned by Oracle. That didn’t mean the end of an open source ZFS, however, as multiple efforts were born at the time to help keep the technology alive.

Ahrens said that Oracle’s decision to stop contributing open source code to ZFS was a ‘call to arms’ that led to the development of the Illumos operating system. Illumos is an open source community-led fork of what had been the OpenSolaris project.

Over the last three years, developers have extended ZFS beyond Illumos to also have ports for FreeBSD, Mac OS X and now Linux as well. Open Source ZFS running on Linux is now in production on some of the world’s fastest supercomputers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


“OpenZFS is a community project founded by open source developers, for the continued development of ZFS on Illumos, FreeBSD, Linux and Mac OS X.,” Ahrens said. “The goals of the project are to raise awareness, encourage open communication and to ensure consistent reliability, functionality and performance across multiple platforms.”

Ahrens noted that prior to the formation of OpenZFS there wasn’t proper co-ordination across the different operating system implementations. The new group is now working on a cross platform test suite with the goal of trying to reduce code difference between different platforms.

Beyond that, Ahrens stressed that OpenZFS is a filesystem that is going to keep getting better. Developers have recently undertaken efforts to improve disk write latency and have also introduced a new compression algorithm to further improve performance.

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