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|Developer(s)||Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Cyber Space Laboratories|
|Full name||New Implementation of a Log-structured File System|
|Introduced||2005Linux kernel 2.6.13with|
|Max. volume size||8 EiB|
|Max. file size||8 EiB|
|Max. filename length||255 bytes|
|Dates recorded||atime (planned)|
|Date resolution||64-bit on-disk timestamps|
|Attributes||POSIX, with plans for extended attributes|
|File system permissions||POSIX, with plans for ACLs|
|Supported operating systems||Linux kernel, (ReadOnly for NetBSD)|
NILFS or NILFS2 (New Implementation of a Log-structured File System) is a log-structured file system implementation for the Linux kernel. It is being developed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) CyberSpace Laboratories and a community from all over the world. NILFS was released under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).
"NILFS is a log-structured filesystem, in that the storage medium is treated like a circular buffer and new blocks are always written to the end.[…]Log-structured filesystems are often used for flash media since they will naturally perform wear-leveling;[…]NILFS emphasizes snapshots. The log-structured approach is a specific form of copy-on-write behavior, so it naturally lends itself to the creation of filesystem snapshots. The NILFS developers talk about the creation of "continuous snapshots" which can be used to recover from user-initiated filesystem problems[…]."
Using a copy-on-write technique known as "nothing in life is free", NILFS records all data in a continuous log-like format that is only appended to, never overwritten, an approach that is designed to reduce seek times, as well as minimize the kind of data loss that occurs after a crash with conventional file systems. For example, data loss occurs on ext3 file systems when the system crashes during a write operation. When the system reboots, the journal notes that the write did not complete, and any partial data writes are lost.
Some file systems, like UFS-derived file systems used by the Solaris operating system and BSDs, provide a snapshot feature that prevents such data loss, but the snapshot configuration can be lengthy on large file systems. NILFS, in contrast, can "continuously and automatically [save] instantaneous states of the file system without interrupting service", according to NTT Labs.
The "instantaneous states" that NILFS continuously saves can actually be mounted, read-only, at the same time that the actual file system is mounted read-write — a capability useful for data recovery after hardware failures and other system crashes. The "lscp" (list checkpoint) command of an interactive NILFS "inspect" utility is first used to find the checkpoint's address, in this case "2048":
# inspect /dev/sda2 ... nilfs> listcp 1 6 Tue Jul 12 14:55:57 2005 MajorCP|LogiBegin|LogiEnd 2048 2352 Tue Jul 12 14:55:58 2005 MajorCP|LogiEnd ... nilfs> quit
The checkpoint address is then used to mount the checkpoint:
# mount -t nilfs -r -o cp=2048 /dev/sda2 /nilfs-cp # df Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on /dev/sda2 70332412 8044540 62283776 12% /nilfs /dev/sda2 70332412 8044540 62283776 12% /nilfs-cp
NILFS provides continuous snapshotting. In addition to versioning capability of the entire file system, users can even restore files mistakenly overwritten or deleted at any recent time. Since NILFS can keep consistency like conventional LFS, it achieves quick recovery after system crashes.
Continuous snapshotting is not provided by most filesystems, including those supporting point-in-time snapshotting (e.g. Btrfs)
NILFS creates a number of checkpoints every few seconds or per synchronous write basis (unless there is no change). Users can select significant versions among continuously created checkpoints, and can change them into snapshots which will be preserved until they are changed back to checkpoints.
There is no limit on the number of snapshots until the volume gets full. Each snapshot is mountable as a read-only file system. It is mountable concurrently with a writable mount and other snapshots, and this feature is convenient to make consistent backups during use.
Possible uses of NILFS include versioning, tamper detection, SOX compliance logging, data loss recovery.
The current major version of NILFS is version 2, which is referred to as NILFS2. NILFS2 implements online garbage collection to reclaim disk space with keeping multiple snapshots.
Other NILFS features include:
- B-tree based file and inode management.
- Immediate recovery after system crash.
- 64-bit data structures; support many files, large files and disks.
- 64-bit on-disk timestamps which are free of the year 2038 problem.
- Basic POSIX file system features
- Automatically and continuously taken
- No limit on the number of snapshots until the volume gets full
- Mountable as read-only file systems
- Mountable concurrently with the writable mount (convenient to make consistent backups during use)
- Quick listing
- Background Garbage Collection
- Can maintain multiple snapshots
- Selectable GC Policy, which is given by a userland daemon.
- Quick crash recovery on-mount
- Read-ahead for meta data files as well as data files
- Block sizes smaller than page size (e.g. 1KB or 2KB)
- Online resizing (since Linux-3.x and nilfs-utils 2.1)
- Related utilities (by contribution of Jiro SEKIBA)
- util-linux (blkid, libblkid, uuid mount)
- udisks, palimpsest
- Filesystem label (nilfs-tune)
- Fast write and recovery times
- Minimal damage to file data and system consistency on hardware failure
- Internal data is processed in 64-bit wide word size
- Can create and store huge files (8 EiB)
|Debian||NILFS is available in Debian 5.0 and later.|
|Ubuntu||NILFS is available in Ubuntu 9.10 and later.|
|CentOS||x86 and x86_64 for CentOS 6 and x86_64 for Centos 7 are available on .|
|Fedora||Building and installing nilfs-utils-2.1 is required in order to use NILFS in Fedora 14~16. For Fedora 15 and later, user also needs to build NILFS2 kernel module with explained steps.|
|openSUSE||i586 and x86_64 for openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise are available on openSUSE Build Service.|
|Gentoo||NILFS is available in Gentoo Linux. A boot-cd with NILFS is available on PrRescue|
|Arch Linux||NILFS is available in Arch Linux.|
|Linux Mint||NILFS is available in Linux Mint.|
|NixOS||NILFS is available in NixOS.|
- NILFS was merged into the Linux kernel 2.6.30.
- On distributions where NILFS is available out-of-the-box, the user needs to download the nilfs-utils (or nilfs-tools) package, following the instructions from .
If you've got a workload that's latency sensitive, you might want to use NILFS. If you've got one that's throughput sensitive, you might want to use F2FS.— Peter Chubb
NILFS2 works much better for the lots of small files case than F2FS or EXT4.— Peter Chubb
The NILFS2 filesystem utilities are made available under the GNU Public License version 2, with the exception of the lib/nilfs libraries and their header files, which are made available under the GNU Lesser General Public License Version 2.1.
The Japanese primary authors and major contributors to the
nilfs-utils who worked or are working at labs of NTT Corporation are:
- Ryusuke Konishi (Primary maintainer, 02/2008-Present)
- Koji Sato
- Naruhiko Kamimura
- Seiji Kihara
- Yoshiji Amagai
- Hisashi Hifumi and
- Satoshi Moriai.
Other major contributors are:
- Andreas Rohner 
- Dan McGee
- David Arendt
- David Smid
- dexen deVries
- Dmitry Smirnov
- Eric Sandeen
- Jiro SEKIBA
- Matteo Frigo
- Hitoshi Mitake
- Takashi Iwai
- Vyacheslav Dubeyko
- List of file systems
- Comparison of file systems
- Log-structured File System (BSD)
- Sprite operating system
- "NILFS Current Status".
- "An article about NILFS". Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- the NILFS version 1: overview
- does not verify: Re: Does nilfs2 checksum all data?; kernel 4.4.38-v7+ does not verify, too.
- Linux Kernel 2.6.30 Is Out, Includes the NILFS2 Filesystem
- NiLFS(2) source commit
- Peter Chubb. "SD cards and filesystems for embedded systems". Linux.conf.au.
- Official website
- "An Article Describing High-level Features". Archived from the original on 2013-01-03.
- "World's Largest TELCO Joins Open Source Development Labs". Archived from the original on 2013-01-27.
- NILFS: A File System to Make SSDs Scream
- Manjaro tutorial NILFS: A filesystem designed to minimize the likelyhood [sic] of data loss