Compressed File Systems on Linux

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Perhaps the title should have been; ‘the lack of a suitable compressed file system on linux’. A compressed file system in this case refers to a setup where the files are saved on the disk in a predefined compressed format (such as gzip or bzip2). When you read from those files they will be automatically decompressed by the file system. Similarly when you attempt to create a new file or modify an old file, it should be automatically compressed before saving. Such a file system is sure to be very slow for random access but for sequential access it wouldn’t matter so much. It might even be faster than an uncompressed file system because hard drives continues to be the real bottleneck in most computers today.

Linux gives you two options for creating file systems; at the kernel level or in the user space. e2compr is a kernel patch that supports compressing an ext2 file system while the user space tools are based on fuse. Using kernel space drivers could be messy.

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