ReiserFS

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ReiserFS is a general-purpose, journaled computer file system designed and implemented by a team at Namesys led by Hans Reiser. ReiserFS is currently supported on Linux. Introduced in version 2.4.1 of the Linux kernel, it was the first journaling file system to be included in the standard kernel. ReiserFS is the default file system on the Elive, Xandros, Linspire, GoboLinux, and Yoper Linux distributions. ReiserFS was the default file system in Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise until Novell decided to move to ext3 on October 12, 2006 for future releases. [1]

Namesys considers ReiserFS (now occasionally referred to as Reiser3) stable and feature-complete and, with the exception of security updates and critical bug fixes, has thus ceased development on it to concentrate on its successor, Reiser4.

Contents

Features

At the time of its introduction, ReiserFS offered features that had not been available in existing Linux file systems:

  • Metadata-only journaling (also block journaling, since Linux 2.6.8), its most-publicized advantage over what was the stock Linux file system at the time, ext2.
  • Online resizing (growth only), with or without an underlying volume manager such as LVM. Since then, Namesys has also provided tools to resize (both grow and shrink) ReiserFS file systems offline.
  • Tail packing, a scheme to reduce internal fragmentation. Tail packing, however, can have a significant performance impact. Reiser4 may have improved this by packing tails where it does not hurt performance.[2]

Performance

Compared with ext2 and ext3 in version 2.4 of the Linux kernel, when dealing with files under 4 KiB and with tail packing enabled, ReiserFS may be faster. This was said to be of great benefit in Usenet news spools, HTTP caches, mail delivery systems and other applications where performance with small files is critical. However, in practice news spools use a feature called cycbuf, which holds articles in one large file; fast HTTP caches and several revision control systems use similar approach, nullifying these performance advantages. For email servers, reiserfs was problematic due to semantic problems explained below. Also, ReiserFS had a problem with very fast filesystem aging when compared to other filesystems - in several usage scenarios filesystem performance lowered dramatically with time.

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