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The Btrfs file system

If the numerous articles published about this topic in the past few months are to be believed, Btrfs is the file system of the future for Linux and the file system developers agree: Btrfs is to be the "next generation file system" for Linux. The general consensus (not so much among developers, but among the general supporters of Btrfs) is that Btrfs is the ZFS for Linux (for example, according to Linux Magazine). While this may be disputable at present since the ZFS, designed by Sun Microsystems for the Solaris Operating System, is already in production use, while Btrfs is still highly experimental, the two file systems do have a lot in common. With its integrated volume management, checksums for data integrity,Copy on Write and snapshots, Btrfs offers a range of features unrivalled by any of the Linux file systems currently in production use.

It is, therefore, time to take a look at this next generation file system for Linux.

Fit for the future

As a 64-bit file system, Btrfs addresses up to 16 exabytes (16,384 petabytes) – both in terms of the maximum volume size and the maximum file size. This is considerably more than is addressed by Ext4 (1024 PBytes / 16 TBytes), matches Sun's ZFS and offers plenty of reserves for years to come. As a reference point, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, currently probably the producer of the largest amount of data worldwide, has about 20 PBytes of storage available – in a grid distributed across eleven data centres in Europe, North America and Asia.

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