|Introduced||November 2005 with OpenSolaris|
|Directory contents||Extensible hash table|
|Max. volume size||256 zebibytes (278 bytes)|
|Max. file size||16 exbibytes (264 bytes)|
|Max. number of files||
|Max. filename length||255 ASCII characters (fewer for multibyte character encodings such as Unicode)|
|Forks||Yes (called "extended attributes", but they are full-fledged streams)|
|File system permissions||POSIX, NFSv4 ACLs|
|Supported operating systems||Solaris, OpenSolaris, illumos distributions, OpenIndiana, FreeBSD, Mac OS X Server 10.5 (only read-only support), NetBSD, Linux via third-party kernel module or ZFS-FUSE, OSv|
ZFS is a combined file system and logical volume manager designed by Sun Microsystems. The features of ZFS include protection against data corruption, support for high storage capacities, efficient data compression, integration of the concepts of filesystem and volume management, snapshots and copy-on-write clones, continuous integrity checking and automatic repair, RAID-Z and native NFSv4 ACLs.
The ZFS name is registered as a trademark of Oracle Corporation. The ZFS name originally stood for "Zettabyte File System". Originally, ZFS was proprietary, closed-source software developed internally by Sun as part of Solaris, with a team led by the CTO of Sun's storage business unit and Sun Fellow, Jeff Bonwick. In 2005, the bulk of Solaris, including ZFS, was licensed as open-source software under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), as the OpenSolaris project. ZFS became a standard feature of Solaris 10 in June 2006.
In 2010, Oracle stopped the releasing of source code for new OpenSolaris and ZFS development, effectively forking their closed-source development from the open-source branch. In response, OpenZFS was created as a new open-source development umbrella project, aiming at bringing together individuals and companies that use the ZFS filesystem in an open-source manner.
- 1 Features
- 1.1 Data integrity
- 1.2 RAID
- 1.3 Capacity
- 1.4 Encryption
- 1.5 Other features
- 1.5.1 Storage pools
- 1.5.2 ZFS cache: ARC (L1), L2ARC, ZIL
- 1.5.3 Copy-on-write transactional model
- 1.5.4 Snapshots and clones
- 1.5.5 Sending and receiving snapshots
- 1.5.6 Dynamic striping
- 1.5.7 Variable block sizes
- 1.5.8 Lightweight filesystem creation
- 1.5.9 Cache management
- 1.5.10 Adaptive endianness
- 1.5.11 Deduplication
- 1.5.12 Additional capabilities
- 2 Limitations
- 3 Platforms
- 3.1 Solaris
- 3.2 BSD
- 3.3 Linux
- 3.4 List of operating systems supporting ZFS
- 4 History
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
One major feature that distinguishes ZFS from other file systems is that it is designed with a focus on data integrity by protecting the user's data on disk against silent data corruption caused by data degradation, current spikes, bugs in disk firmware, phantom writes (the previous write did not make it to disk), misdirected reads/writes (the disk accesses the wrong block), DMA parity errors between the array and server memory or from the driver (since the checksum validates data inside the array), driver errors (data winds up in the wrong buffer inside the kernel), accidental overwrites (such as swapping to a live file system), etc.
A 2012 research showed that neither any of the then-major and widespread filesystems (such as UFS, Ext, XFS, JFS, or NTFS) nor hardware RAID (which has some issues with data integrity) provided sufficient protection against data corruption problems. Initial research indicates that ZFS protects data better than earlier efforts. It is also faster than UFS and can be seen as its replacement.
ZFS data integrity
For ZFS, data integrity is achieved by using a Fletcher-based checksum or a SHA-256 hash throughout the file system tree. Each block of data is checksummed and the checksum value is then saved in the pointer to that block—rather than at the actual block itself. Next, the block pointer is checksummed, with the value being saved at its pointer. This checksumming continues all the way up the file system's data hierarchy to the root node, which is also checksummed, thus creating a Merkle tree. In-flight data corruption or phantom reads/writes (the data written/read checksums correctly but is actually wrong) are undetectable by most filesystems as they store the checksum with the data. ZFS stores the checksum of each block in its parent block pointer so the entire pool self-validates.
When a block is accessed, regardless of whether it is data or meta-data, its checksum is calculated and compared with the stored checksum value of what it "should" be. If the checksums match, the data are passed up the programming stack to the process that asked for it; if the values do not match, then ZFS can heal the data if the storage pool provides data redundancy (such as with internal mirroring), assuming that the copy of data is undamaged and with matching checksums. If the storage pool consists of a single disk, it is possible to provide such redundancy by specifying copies=2 (or copies=3), which means that data will be stored twice (or three times) on the disk, effectively halving (or, for copies=3, reducing to one third) the storage capacity of the disk. If redundancy exists, ZFS will fetch a copy of the data (or recreate it via a RAID recovery mechanism), and recalculate the checksum—ideally resulting in the reproduction of the originally expected value. If the data passes this integrity check, the system can then update the faulty copy with known-good data so that redundancy can be restored.
ZFS and hardware RAID
If the disks are connected to a RAID controller, it is most efficient to configure it as a HBA in JBOD mode (i.e. turn off RAID function). If a hardware RAID card is used, ZFS always detects all data corruption but cannot always repair data corruption because the hardware RAID card will interfere. Therefore, the recommendation is to not use a hardware RAID card, or to flash a hardware RAID card into JBOD/IT mode. For ZFS to be able to guarantee data integrity, it needs to either have access to a RAID set (so all data is copied to at least two disks), or if one single disk is used, ZFS needs to enable redundancy (copies) which duplicates the data on the same logical drive. Using ZFS copies is a good feature to use on notebooks and desktop computers, since the disks are large and it at least provides some limited redundancy with just a single drive.
There are several reasons as to why it is better to rely solely on ZFS by using several independent disks and RAID-Z or mirroring.
When using hardware RAID, the controller usually adds controller-dependent data to the drives which prevents software RAID from accessing the user data. While it is possible to read the data with a compatible hardware RAID controller, this inconveniences consumers as a compatible controller usually isn't readily available. Using the JBOD/RAID-Z combination, any disk controller can be used to resume operation after a controller failure.
Note that hardware RAID configured as JBOD may still detach drives that do not respond in time (as has been seen with many energy-efficient consumer-grade hard drives), and as such, may require TLER/CCTL/ERC-enabled drives to prevent drive dropouts.
Software RAID using ZFS
ZFS offers software RAID through its RAID-Z and mirroring organization schemes.
RAID-Z is a data/parity distribution scheme like RAID-5, but uses dynamic stripe width: every block is its own RAID stripe, regardless of blocksize, resulting in every RAID-Z write being a full-stripe write. This, when combined with the copy-on-write transactional semantics of ZFS, eliminates the write hole error. RAID-Z is also faster than traditional RAID 5 because it does not need to perform the usual read-modify-write sequence.
As all stripes are of different sizes, RAID-Z reconstruction has to traverse the filesystem metadata to determine the actual RAID-Z geometry. This would be impossible if the filesystem and the RAID array were separate products, whereas it becomes feasible when there is an integrated view of the logical and physical structure of the data. Going through the metadata means that ZFS can validate every block against its 256-bit checksum as it goes, whereas traditional RAID products usually cannot do this.
In addition to handling whole-disk failures, RAID-Z can also detect and correct silent data corruption, offering "self-healing data": when reading a RAID-Z block, ZFS compares it against its checksum, and if the data disks did not return the right answer, ZFS reads the parity and then figures out which disk returned bad data. Then, it repairs the damaged data and returns good data to the requestor.
RAID-Z does not require any special hardware: it does not need NVRAM for reliability, and it does not need write buffering for good performance. With RAID-Z, ZFS provides fast, reliable storage using cheap, commodity disks.
There are three different RAID-Z modes: RAID-Z1 (similar to RAID 5, allows one disk to fail), RAID-Z2 (similar to RAID 6, allows two disks to fail), and RAID-Z3 (allows three disks to fail). The need for RAID-Z3 arose recently because RAID configurations with future disks (say, 6–10 TB) may take a long time to repair, the worst case being weeks. During those weeks, the rest of the disks in the RAID are stressed more because of the additional intensive repair process and might subsequently fail, too. By using RAID-Z3, the risk involved with disk replacement is reduced.
Mirroring, the other ZFS RAID option, is essentially the same as RAID 1, allowing any number of disks to be mirrored.
Resilvering and scrub
ZFS has no fsck repair tool equivalent, common on Unix filesystems, which does file system validation and file system repair. Instead, ZFS has a repair tool called "scrub" which examines and repairs silent corruption and other problems. Some differences are:
- fsck must be run on an offline filesystem, which means the filesystem must be unmounted and is not usable while being repaired.
- scrub does not need the ZFS filesystem to be taken offline; scrub is designed to be used on a mounted, live filesystem.
- fsck usually only checks metadata (such as the journal log) but never checks the data itself. This means, after an fsck, the data might still be corrupt.
- scrub checks everything, including metadata and the data. The effect can be observed by comparing fsck to scrub times – sometimes a fsck on a large RAID completes in a few minutes, which means only the metadata was checked. Traversing all metadata and data on a large RAID takes many hours, which is exactly what scrub does.
ZFS is a 128-bit file system, so it can address 1.84 × 1019 times more data than 64-bit systems such as Btrfs. The limitations of ZFS are designed to be so large that they should never be encountered in practice. For instance, fully populating a single zpool with 2128 bits of data would require 1024 3 TB hard disk drives.
Some theoretical limits in ZFS are:
- 248: number of entries in any individual directory
- 16 exbibytes (264 bytes): maximum size of a single file
- 16 exbibytes: maximum size of any attribute
- 256 zebibytes (278 bytes): maximum size of any zpool
- 256: number of attributes of a file (actually constrained to 248 for the number of files in a directory)
- 264: number of devices in any zpool
- 264: number of zpools in a system
- 264: number of file systems in a zpool
With Oracle Solaris, the encryption capability in ZFS is embedded into the I/O pipeline. During writes, a block may be compressed, encrypted, checksummed and then deduplicated, in that order. The policy for encryption is set at the dataset level when datasets (file systems or ZVOLs) are created. The wrapping keys provided by the user/administrator can be changed at any time without taking the file system offline. The default behaviour is for the wrapping key to be inherited by any child data sets. The data encryption keys are randomly generated at dataset creation time. Only descendant datasets (snapshots and clones) share data encryption keys. A command to switch to a new data encryption key for the clone or at any time is provided—this does not re-encrypt already existing data, instead utilising an encrypted master-key mechanism.
Unlike traditional filesystems which reside on single devices and thus require a volume manager to use more than one device, ZFS filesystems are built on top of virtual storage pools called zpools. A zpool is constructed of virtual devices (vdevs), themselves constructed of block devices: files, hard drive partitions, or entire drives, with the latter being the recommended usage. Block devices within a vdev may be configured in different ways, depending on needs and space available: non-redundantly (similar to RAID 0), as a mirror (RAID 1) of two or more devices, as a RAID-Z group of three or more devices, or as a RAID-Z2 (similar to RAID-6) group of four or more devices. In July 2009, triple-parity RAID-Z3 was added to OpenSolaris. RAID-Z is a data-protection technology featured by ZFS in order to reduce the block overhead in mirroring.
Thus, a zpool (ZFS storage pool) is vaguely similar to a computer's RAM. The total RAM pool capacity depends on the number of RAM memory sticks and the size of each stick. Likewise, a zpool consists of one or more vdevs. Each vdev can be viewed as a group of hard disks (or partitions, or files, etc.). Each vdev should have redundancy, otherwise if a vdev is lost, then the whole zpool is lost. Thus, each vdev should be configured as RAID-Z1, RAID-Z2, mirror, etc. It is not possible to change the number of drives in an existing vdev (Block Pointer Rewrite will allow this, and also allow defragmentation), but it is always possible to increase storage capacity by adding a new vdev to a zpool. It is possible to swap a drive to a larger drive and resilver (repair) the zpool. If this procedure is repeated for every disk in a vdev, then the zpool will grow in capacity when the last drive is resilvered. A vdev will have the same base capacity as the smallest drive in the group. For instance, a vdev consisting of three 500 GB and one 700 GB drive, will have a capacity of 4×500 GB.
In addition, pools can have hot spares to compensate for failing disks. When mirroring, block devices can be grouped according to physical chassis, so that the filesystem can continue in the case of the failure of an entire chassis.
Storage pool composition is not limited to similar devices, but can consist of ad-hoc, heterogeneous collections of devices, which ZFS seamlessly pools together, subsequently doling out space to diverse filesystems as needed. Arbitrary storage device types can be added to existing pools to expand their size.
The storage capacity of all vdevs is available to all of the file system instances in the zpool. A quota can be set to limit the amount of space a file system instance can occupy, and a reservation can be set to guarantee that space will be available to a file system instance.
ZFS cache: ARC (L1), L2ARC, ZIL
ZFS uses different layers of disk cache to speed up read and write operations. Ideally, all data should be stored in RAM, but that is too expensive. Therefore, data is automatically cached in a hierarchy to optimize performance vs cost. Frequently accessed data is stored in RAM, and less frequently accessed data can be stored on slower media, such as SSDs. Data that is not often accessed is not cached and left on the slow hard drives. If old data is suddenly read a lot, ZFS will automatically move it to SSDs or to RAM.
The first level of disk cache is RAM, which uses a variant of the ARC algorithm. It is similar to a level 1 CPU cache. RAM will always be used for caching, thus this level is always present. There are claims that ZFS servers must have huge amounts of RAM, but that is not true. It is a misinterpretation of the desire to have large ARC disk caches. The ARC is very clever and efficient, which means disks will often not be touched at all, provided the ARC size is sufficiently large. In the worst case, if the RAM size is very small (say, 1 GB), there will hardly be any ARC at all; in this case, ZFS always needs to reach for the disks. This means read performance degrades to disk speed.
The second level of disk cache are SSDs. This level is optional, and is easy to add or remove during live usage, as there is no need to shut down the zpool. There are two different caches; one cache for reads, and one for writes.
- The read SSD cache is called L2ARC and is similar to a level 2 CPU cache. The L2ARC will also considerably speed up Deduplication if the entire Dedup table can be cached in L2ARC. It can take several hours to fully populate the L2ARC (before it has decided which data are "hot" and should be cached). If the L2ARC device is lost, all reads will go out to the disks which slows down performance, but nothing else will happen (no data will be lost).
- The write SSD cache is called the Log Device, and it is used by the ZIL (ZFS intent log). ZIL basically turns synchronous writes into asynchronous writes, which helps e.g. NFS or databases. All data is written to the ZIL like a journal log, but only read after a crash. Thus, the ZIL data is normally never read. In case there is no separate log device added to the zpool, a part of the zpool will automatically be used as ZIL, thus there is always a ZIL on every zpool. It is important that the log device use a disk with low latency. For improved performance, a disk consisting of battery-backed RAM should be used. Because the log device is written to often, an SSD will eventually be worn out, but a RAM disk will not. If the log device is lost, it is possible to lose the latest writes, therefore the log device should be mirrored. In earlier versions of ZFS, loss of the log device could result in loss of the entire zpool, therefore one should upgrade ZFS if planning to use a separate log device.
Copy-on-write transactional model
ZFS uses a copy-on-write transactional object model. All block pointers within the filesystem contain a 256-bit checksum or 256-bit hash (currently a choice between Fletcher-2, Fletcher-4, or SHA-256) of the target block, which is verified when the block is read. Blocks containing active data are never overwritten in place; instead, a new block is allocated, modified data is written to it, then any metadata blocks referencing it are similarly read, reallocated, and written. To reduce the overhead of this process, multiple updates are grouped into transaction groups, and ZIL (intent log) write cache is used when synchronous write semantics are required. The blocks are arranged in a tree, as are their checksums (see Merkle signature scheme).
Snapshots and clones
An advantage of copy-on-write is that, when ZFS writes new data, the blocks containing the old data can be retained, allowing a snapshot version of the file system to be maintained. ZFS snapshots are created very quickly, since all the data composing the snapshot is already stored. They are also space efficient, since any unchanged data is shared among the file system and its snapshots.
Writeable snapshots ("clones") can also be created, resulting in two independent file systems that share a set of blocks. As changes are made to any of the clone file systems, new data blocks are created to reflect those changes, but any unchanged blocks continue to be shared, no matter how many clones exist. This is an implementation of the Copy-on-write principle.
Sending and receiving snapshots
ZFS file systems can be moved to other pools, also on remote hosts over the network, as the send command creates a stream representation of the file system's state. This stream can either describe complete contents of the file system at a given snapshot, or it can be a delta between snapshots. Computing the delta stream is very efficient, and its size depends on the number of blocks changed between the snapshots. This provides an efficient strategy, e.g. for synchronizing offsite backups or high availability mirrors of a pool.
Dynamic striping across all devices to maximize throughput means that as additional devices are added to the zpool, the stripe width automatically expands to include them; thus, all disks in a pool are used, which balances the write load across them.
Variable block sizes
ZFS uses variable-sized blocks, with 128 KB as the default size. Available features allow the administrator to tune the maximum block size which is used, as certain workloads do not perform well with large blocks. If data compression is enabled, variable block sizes are used. If a block can be compressed to fit into a smaller block size, the smaller size is used on the disk to use less storage and improve IO throughput (though at the cost of increased CPU use for the compression and decompression operations).
Lightweight filesystem creation
In ZFS, filesystem manipulation within a storage pool is easier than volume manipulation within a traditional filesystem; the time and effort required to create or expand a ZFS filesystem is closer to that of making a new directory than it is to volume manipulation in some other systems.
ZFS also uses the Adaptive Replacement Cache (ARC), a new method for read cache management, instead of the traditional Solaris virtual memory page cache. For write caching, ZFS employs the ZFS Intent Log (ZIL). ZFS makes allowances for both of these methods to incorporate separate virtual devices to improve the total IOPS. For read operations it is the "cache" vdev and for write operations it is the "log" vdev.
Pools and their associated ZFS file systems can be moved between different platform architectures, including systems implementing different byte orders. The ZFS block pointer format stores filesystem metadata in an endian-adaptive way; individual metadata blocks are written with the native byte order of the system writing the block. When reading, if the stored endianness does not match the endianness of the system, the metadata is byte-swapped in memory.
This does not affect the stored data; as is usual in POSIX systems, files appear to applications as simple arrays of bytes, so applications creating and reading data remain responsible for doing so in a way independent of the underlying system's endianness.
Data deduplication capabilities were added to the ZFS source repository at the end of October 2009, and relevant OpenSolaris ZFS development packages have been available since December 3, 2009 (build 128).
Effective use of deduplication may require large RAM capacity; recommendations range between 1 and 5 GB of RAM for every TB of storage. Insufficient physical memory or lack of ZFS cache can result in virtual memory thrashing when using deduplication, which can either lower performance or result in complete memory starvation. Solid-state drives (SSDs) can be used to cache deduplication tables, thereby speeding up deduplication performance.
Other storage vendors use modified versions of ZFS to achieve very high data compression ratios. Two examples in 2012 were GreenBytes and Tegile. In May 2014, Oracle bought GreenBytes for its ZFS deduplication and replication technology.
- Explicit I/O priority with deadline scheduling.
- Claimed globally optimal I/O sorting and aggregation.
- Multiple independent prefetch streams with automatic length and stride detection.
- Parallel, constant-time directory operations.
- End-to-end checksumming, using a kind of "Data Integrity Field", allowing data corruption detection (and recovery if you have redundancy in the pool).
- Transparent filesystem compression. Supports LZJB, gzip and LZ4.
- Intelligent scrubbing and resilvering (resyncing).
- Load and space usage sharing among disks in the pool.
- Ditto blocks: Configurable data replication per filesystem, with zero, one or two extra copies requested per write for user data, and with that same base number of copies plus one or two for metadata (according to metadata importance). If the pool has several devices, ZFS tries to replicate over different devices. Ditto blocks are primarily an additional protection against corrupted sectors, not against total disk failure.
- ZFS design (copy-on-write + superblocks) is safe when using disks with write cache enabled, if they honor the write barriers. This feature provides safety and a performance boost compared with some other filesystems.
- On Solaris, when entire disks are added to a ZFS pool, ZFS automatically enables their write cache. This is not done when ZFS only manages discrete slices of the disk, since it does not know if other slices are managed by non-write-cache safe filesystems, like UFS. The FreeBSD implementation can handle disk flushes for partitions thanks to its GEOM framework, and therefore does not suffer from this limitation.
- Per-user and per-group quotas support.
- Filesystem encryption since Solaris 11 Express.
- Pools can be imported in read-only mode.
- It is possible to recover data by rolling back entire transactions at the time of importing the zpool.
- ZFS is not a clustered filesystem; however, clustered ZFS is available from third parties.
Limitations in preventing data corruption
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A 2010 paper examining the ability of file systems to detect and prevent data corruption, observed that ZFS itself is effective in detecting and correcting data errors on storage devices, but that it assumes data in RAM is "safe", and not prone to error. Thus when ZFS caches pages, or stores copies of metadata, in RAM, or holds data in its "dirty" cache for writing to disk, no test is made whether the checksums still match the data at the point of use. Much of this risk can be mitigated by use of ECC RAM but the authors considered that error detection related to the page cache and heap would allow ZFS to handle certain classes of error more robustly.
Limitations specific to ZFS
- Capacity expansion is normally achieved by adding groups of disks as a top-level vdev: simple device, RAID-Z, RAID Z2, RAID 3, or mirrored. Newly written data will dynamically start to use all available vdevs. It is also possible to expand the array by iteratively swapping each drive in the array with a bigger drive and waiting for ZFS to self-heal; the heal time will depend on the amount of stored information, not the disk size.
- As of Solaris 10 Update 11 and Solaris 11.2, it is neither possible to reduce the number of top-level vdevs in a pool, nor to otherwise reduce pool capacity. This functionality was said to be in development already in 2007.
- It is not possible to add a disk as a column to a RAID Z, RAID Z2 or RAID Z3 vdev. However, a new RAID Z vdev can be created instead and added to the zpool.
- Some traditional nested RAID configurations, such as RAID 51 (a mirror of RAID 5 groups), are not configurable in ZFS. Vdevs can only be composed of raw disks or files, not other vdevs. However, a ZFS pool effectively creates a stripe (RAID 0) across its vdevs, so the equivalent of a RAID 50 or RAID 60 is common.
- Reconfiguring the number of devices in a top-level vdev requires copying data offline, destroying the pool, and recreating the pool with the new top-level vdev configuration, except for adding extra redundancy to an existing mirror, which can be done at any time or if all top level vdevs are mirrors with sufficient redundancy the zpool split command can be used to remove a vdev from each top level vdev in the pool, creating a 2nd pool with identical data.
- Resilver (repair) of a crashed disk in a ZFS RAID takes a long time. This applies to all types of RAID, in one way or another. This means that future large disks, say 5 TB or 6 TB, can take several days to repair. This means that RAID Z1 (similar to RAID 5) should be avoided, because repairing a raid puts additional stress on the other disks which might cause them to crash, losing all data in the storage pool if configured as RAID Z1. Therefore, with large disks, one should use RAID Z2 (allow two disks to crash) or RAID Z3 (allow three disks to crash). It should be noted however, that ZFS RAID differs from conventional RAID by only reconstructing live data and metadata when replacing a disk, not the entirety of the disk including blank and garbage blocks, which means that replacing a member disk on a ZFS pool that is only partially full will take proportionately less time compared to conventional RAID.
- IOPS performance of a ZFS storage pool can suffer if the ZFS raid is not appropriately configured. This applies to all types of RAID, in one way or another. If the zpool consists of only one group of disks configured as, say, eight disks in RAID Z2, then the IOPS performance will be that of a single disk. However, there are ways to mitigate this IOPS performance problem, for instance add SSDs as L2ARC cache — which can boost IOPS into 100.000s. In short, a zpool should consist of several groups of vdevs, each vdev consisting of 8–12 disks, if using RAID Z. It is not recommended to create a zpool with a single large vdev, say 20 disks, because IOPS performance will be that of a single disk, which also means that resilver time will be very long (possibly weeks with future large drives).
Solaris 10 update 2 and later
After Oracle's Solaris 11 Express release, the OS/Net consolidation (the main OS code) was made proprietary and closed-source, and further ZFS upgrades and implementations inside Solaris (such as encryption) are not compatible with other non-proprietary implementations which use previous versions of ZFS.
When creating a new ZFS pool, to retain the ability to use access the pool from other non-proprietary Solaris-based distributions, it is recommended to upgrade to Solaris 11 Express from OpenSolaris (snv_134b), and thereby stay at ZFS version 28.
OpenSolaris 2008.05, 2008.11 and 2009.06 use ZFS as their default filesystem. There are over a dozen 3rd-party distributions, of which nearly a dozen are mentioned here. (OpenIndiana and illumos are two new distributions not included on the OpenSolaris distribution reference page.)
By upgrading from OpenSolaris snv_134 to both OpenIndiana and Solaris 11 Express, one also has the ability to upgrade and separately boot Solaris 11 Express on the same ZFS pool, but one should not install Solaris 11 Express first because of ZFS incompatibilities introduced by Oracle past ZFS version 28.
OpenZFS on OSX (abbreviated to O3X) is an implementation of ZFS for OS X. O3X is under active development, with close relation to ZFS on Linux and illumos' ZFS implementation, while maintaining feature flag compatibility with ZFS on Linux. O3X implements zpool version 5000, and includes the Solaris Porting Layer (SPL) originally authored for MacZFS, which has been further enhanced to include a memory management layer based on the illumos kmem and vmem allocators. O3X is fully featured, supporting LZ4 compression, deduplication, ARC, L2ARC, and SLOG.
MacZFS is free software providing support for ZFS on OS X. The stable legacy branch provides up to ZFS pool version 8 and ZFS filesystem version 2. The development branch, based on ZFS on Linux and OpenZFS, provides updated ZFS functionality, such as up to ZFS zpool version 5000 and feature flags.
A proprietary implementation of ZFS (Zevo) was available at no cost from GreenBytes, Inc., implementing up to ZFS file system version 5 and ZFS pool version 28. Zevo offered a limited ZFS feature set, pending further commercial development; it was sold to Oracle in 2014, with unknown future plans.
FreeBSD's ZFS implementation is fully functional; the only missing features are kernel CIFS server and iSCSI, but the latter can be added using externally available packages. Samba can be used to provide a userspace CIFS server.
FreeBSD 7-STABLE (where updates to the series of versions 7.x are committed to) uses zpool version 6.
FreeBSD 8 includes a much-updated implementation of ZFS, and zpool version 13 is supported. zpool version 14 support was added to the 8-STABLE branch on January 11, 2010, and is included in FreeBSD release 8.1. zpool version 15 is supported in release 8.2. The 8-STABLE branch gained support for zpool version v28 and zfs version 5 in early June 2011. These changes were released mid-April 2012 with FreeBSD 8.3.
FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE is the first FreeBSD version to use the new "feature flags" based implementation thus Pool version 5000.
MidnightBSD, a desktop operating system derived from FreeBSD, supports ZFS storage pool version 6 as of 0.3-RELEASE. This was derived from code included in FreeBSD 7.0-RELEASE. An update to storage pool 28 is in progress in 0.4-CURRENT and based on 9-STABLE sources around FreeBSD 9.1-RELEASE code.
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PC-BSD is a desktop version of FreeBSD, which inherits FreeBSD's ZFS support, similarly to FreeNAS. It also allows installation with disk encryption using geli. Its graphical installer can handle even / (root) on ZFS and RAID-Z pool and Gnome installs right from the start in an easy convenient way (GUI). The current PC-BSD 10.0+ "Joule Edition" has ZFS filesystem version 5 and ZFS storage pool version 5000.
NAS4Free, an embedded open source network-attached storage (NAS) distribution based on FreeBSD, has the same ZFS support as FreeBSD, ZFS storage pool version 5000. This project is a continuation of FreeNAS 7 series project.
Being based on the FreeBSD kernel, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD has ZFS support from the kernel. However, additional userland tools are required, while it is possible to have ZFS as root or /boot file system in which case required GRUB configuration is performed by the Debian installer since the Wheezy release.
As of 31 January 2013, the ZPool version available is 14 for the Squeeze release, and 28 for the Wheezy-9 release.
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For Linux, in 2005 Sun's code of the ZFS file system wasn't used as a basis for the development of a Linux kernel module, wasn't merged into the Linux kernel mainline, and Linux distributions did not include it as a precompiled kernel module as the FSF claims a CDDL and GPL legal incompatibility prevents this. As the kernel as also ZFS are under different copyleft licenses, it is controversial debated if a combination of both is a derivative work of the kernel which couldn't be then legally distributed together. In this situation a solution to include ZFS in the Linux kernel, ZFS would have to be cleanly reimplemented, but patents may hamper this.
In 2006 another workaround to the issue with licenses incompatibility was to port ZFS to Linux's FUSE system. The filesystem runs then entirely in userspace instead of being part of the Linux kernel, in which case it is not considered a derived work of the kernel. However, such an approach contains its own issues, one of which is performance penalty. A project to do this was sponsored by Google's Summer of Code in 2006.
Native ZFS on Linux
This problem is being worked around by providing the kernel facilities through a separate kernel module, a technical solution for a legal problem that is also being employed by vendors and distributors of proprietary hardware drivers.
- 2008: prototype to determine viability
- 2009: initial ZVOL and Lustre support
- 2010: development moved to Github
- 2011: POSIX layer added
- 2011: community of early adopters
- 2012: production usage of ZFS
- 2013: stable GA release
Another native port for Linux was developed by KQ InfoTech in 2010. This port used the zvol implementation from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a starting point. A release supporting zpool v28 was announced in January 2011. In April 2011, KQ Infotech was acquired by sTec, Inc., and their work on ZFS ceased. Source code of this port can be found on GitHub.
The work of KQ InfoTech was pulled back into the native port of ZFS for Linux, produced by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Source code distribution
While the license incompatibility arises in a binary distribution, it is widely agreed that a source code distribution would be not affected by this, some distributions make use of this. In Gentoo, configuring a ZFS root filesystem is well documented and the required packages can be installed from its package repository. Slackware also provides documentation on supporting ZFS, both as a kernel module and when built into the kernel.
Ubuntu integrates ZFS as binary module
In 2015 the license compatibility question reemerged when the Linux distribution Ubuntu announced to include OpenZFS by default. In 2016 Ubuntu announced that a legal review resulted in the conclusion that it is legal safe to use ZFS as binary kernel module in Linux. Others followed Ubuntu's conclusion, while the FSF and SFC reiterated their opposing view.
List of operating systems supporting ZFS
List of Operating Systems, Distros and add-ons that support ZFS, the zpool version it supports, and the Solaris build they are based on (if any):
|OS||Zpool version||Sun/Oracle Build #||Comments|
|Oracle Solaris 11.3||37||0.5.11-0.175.3.1.0.5.0|
|Oracle Solaris 11.2||35||0.5.11-0.175.2.0.0.42.0|
|Oracle Solaris 11 2011.11||34||b175|
|Oracle Solaris Express 11 2010.11||31||b151a||licensed for testing only|
|OpenSolaris (last dev)||22||b134|
|OpenIndiana||5000||b147||OpenIndiana creates a name clash with naming their code b151a|
|Nexenta Core 3.0.1||26||b134+||GNU userland|
|NexentaStor Community 3.0.1||26||b134+||up to 18 TB, web admin|
|NexentaStor Community 3.1.0||28||b134+||GNU userland|
|NexentaStor Community 4.0||5000||b134+||up to 18 TB, web admin|
|NexentaStor Enterprise||28||b134 +||not free, web admin|
|GNU/kFreeBSD "Squeeze" (as of 1/31/2013)||14||Requires package "zfsutils"|
|GNU/kFreeBSD "Wheezy-9" (as of 2/21/2013)||28||Requires package "zfsutils"|
|zfs-fuse 0.7.2||23||low performance|
|LLNL's ZFS on Linux 0.6.1||5000||0.6.0 release candidate has POSIX layer|
|KQ Infotech's ZFS on Linux||28||Now dead and has been rolled into LLNL.|
|StormOS "hail"||based on Nexenta|
|MilaX 0.5||20||b128a||small size[clarification needed]|
|FreeNAS 8.0.2 / 8.2||15|
|FreeNAS 8.3.0||28||based on FreeBSD 8.3|
|FreeNAS 9.1.0||5000||based on FreeBSD 9.1|
|NAS4Free 10.2.0.2/10.3.0.3||5000||based on FreeBSD 10.2/10.3|
|EON NAS (v0.6)||22||b130||embedded NAS|
|EON NAS (v1.0beta)||28||b151a||embedded NAS|
|napp-it||28/5000||Illumos/ Solaris||Storage appliance with Web-UI build on Nexenta Illumian, OpenIndiana, OmniOS or Solaris 11.2|
|OmniOS||28/5000||illumos-omnios branch||minimal storage server distribution based on Illumos|
|SmartOS||28/5000||Illumos b151+||minimal live distribution based on Illumos (boots from USB/CD) suited for cloud and hypervisor use (KVM)|
|OS X 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9||5000||MacZFS|
|OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8||28||ZEVO|
|Ubuntu 16.04 LTS||5000||support it natively, out of the box.|
|DogeOS||A Chinese distribution based on SmartOS and the FIFO Project|
ZFS was designed and implemented by a team at Sun led by Jeff Bonwick, Bill Moore and Matthew Ahrens. It was announced on September 14, 2004, but development started in 2001. Source code for ZFS was integrated into the main trunk of Solaris development on October 31, 2005 and released as part of build 27 of OpenSolaris on November 16, 2005. Sun announced that ZFS was included in the 6/06 update to Solaris 10 in June 2006, one year after the opening of the OpenSolaris community.
In September 2007, NetApp sued Sun claiming that ZFS infringed some of NetApp's patents on Write Anywhere File Layout. Sun counter-sued in October the same year claiming the opposite. The lawsuits were ended in 2010 with an undisclosed settlement.
Open source implementations
- 2005: Source code was released as part of OpenSolaris.
- 2006: Development of a FUSE port for Linux started.
- 2007: Apple started porting ZFS to Mac OS X.
- 2008: A port to FreeBSD was released as part of FreeBSD 7.0.
- 2008: Development of a native Linux port started.
- 2009: Apple's ZFS project closed. The MacZFS project continued to develop the code.
- 2010: OpenSolaris was discontinued. Further development of ZFS on Solaris was no longer open source.
- 2010: illumos was founded as an open source successor, and continued to develop ZFS in the open. Ports of ZFS to other platforms continued porting upstream changes from illumos.
- 2013: The OpenZFS project begins, aiming at coordinated open-source development of ZFS.
Use in commercial products
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2013)|
- 2008: Sun shipped a line of ZFS-based 7000-series storage appliances.
- 2013: Oracle shipped ZS3 series of ZFS-based filers and seized first place in the SPC-2 benchmark with one of them.
- 2013: iXsystems ships ZFS-based NAS devices called FreeNAS for SOHO and TrueNAS for the enterprise.
- 2014: Netgear ships a line of ZFS-based NAS devices called ReadyDATA, designed to be used in the enterprise.
Detailed release history
With ZFS in Oracle Solaris: as new features are introduced, the version numbers of the pool and file system are incremented to designate the format and features available. Features that are available in specific file system versions require a specific pool version.
Distributed development of OpenZFS involves feature flags and pool version 5000, an unchanging number that is expected to never conflict with version numbers given by Oracle. Legacy version numbers still exist for pool versions 1–28, implied by the version 5000. Illumos uses pool version 5000 for this purpose. Future on-disk format changes are enabled / disabled independently via feature flags.
|Latest FOSS stable release|
|Latest Proprietary stable release|
|Latest Proprietary beta release|
|ZFS Filesystem Version Number||Release date||Significant changes|
|1||OpenSolaris Nevada build 36||First release|
|2||OpenSolaris Nevada b69||Enhanced directory entries. In particular, directory entries now store the object type. For example, file, directory, named pipe, and so on, in addition to the object number.|
|3||OpenSolaris Nevada b77||Support for sharing ZFS file systems over SMB. Case insensitivity support. System attribute support. Integrated anti-virus support.|
|4||OpenSolaris Nevada b114||Properties: userquota, groupquota, userused and groupused|
|5||OpenSolaris Nevada b137||System attributes; symlinks now their own object type|
|6||Solaris 11.1||Multilevel file system support|
|ZFS Pool Version Number||Release date||Significant changes|
|1||OpenSolaris Nevada b36||First release|
|2||OpenSolaris Nevada b38||Ditto Blocks|
|3||OpenSolaris Nevada b42||Hot spares, double-parity RAID-Z (raidz2), improved RAID-Z accounting|
|4||OpenSolaris Nevada b62||zpool history|
|5||OpenSolaris Nevada b62||gzip compression for ZFS datasets|
|6||OpenSolaris Nevada b62||"bootfs" pool property|
|7||OpenSolaris Nevada b68||ZIL: adds the capability to specify a separate Intent Log device or devices|
|8||OpenSolaris Nevada b69||ability to delegate zfs(1M) administrative tasks to ordinary users|
|9||OpenSolaris Nevada b77||CIFS server support, dataset quotas|
|10||OpenSolaris Nevada b77||Devices can be added to a storage pool as "cache devices"|
|11||OpenSolaris Nevada b94||Improved zpool scrub / resilver performance|
|12||OpenSolaris Nevada b96||Snapshot properties|
|13||OpenSolaris Nevada b98||Properties: usedbysnapshots, usedbychildren, usedbyrefreservation, and usedbydataset|
|14||OpenSolaris Nevada b103||passthrough-x aclinherit property support|
|15||OpenSolaris Nevada b114||Properties: userquota, groupquota, usuerused and groupused; also required FS v4|
|16||OpenSolaris Nevada b116||STMF property support|
|17||OpenSolaris Nevada b120||triple-parity RAID-Z|
|18||OpenSolaris Nevada b121||ZFS snapshot holds|
|19||OpenSolaris Nevada b125||ZFS log device removal|
|20||OpenSolaris Nevada b128||zle compression algorithm that is needed to support the ZFS deduplication properties in ZFS pool version 21, which were released concurrently|
|21||OpenSolaris Nevada b128||Deduplication|
|22||OpenSolaris Nevada b128||zfs receive properties|
|23||OpenSolaris Nevada b135||slim ZIL|
|24||OpenSolaris Nevada b137||System attributes. Symlinks now their own object type. Also requires FS v5.|
|25||OpenSolaris Nevada b140||Improved pool scrubbing and resilvering statistics|
|26||OpenSolaris Nevada b141||Improved snapshot deletion performance|
|27||OpenSolaris Nevada b145||Improved snapshot creation performance (particularly recursive snapshots)|
|28||OpenSolaris Nevada b147||Multiple virtual device replacements|
|29||Solaris Nevada b148||RAID-Z/mirror hybrid allocator|
|30||Solaris Nevada b149||ZFS encryption|
|31||Solaris Nevada b150||Improved 'zfs list' performance|
|32||Solaris Nevada b151||One MB block support|
|33||Solaris Nevada b163||Improved share support|
|34||Solaris 11.1 (0.5.11-0.175.1.0.0.24.2)||Sharing with inheritance|
|35||Solaris 11.2 (0.5.11-0.175.2.0.0.42.0)||Sequential resilver|
|36||Solaris 11.3||Efficient log block allocation|
|37||Solaris 11.3||LZ4 compression|
|5000||OpenZFS||Unchanging pool version to signify that the pool indicates new features after pool version 28 using ZFS feature flags rather than by incrementing the pool version|
Note: The Solaris version under development by Sun since the release of Solaris 10 in 2005 was codenamed 'Nevada', and was derived from what was the OpenSolaris codebase. 'Solaris Nevada' is the codename for the next-generation Solaris OS to eventually succeed Solaris 10 and this new code was then pulled successively into new OpenSolaris 'Nevada' snapshot builds. OpenSolaris is now discontinued and OpenIndiana forked from it. A final build (b134) of OpenSolaris was published by Oracle (2010-Nov-12) as an upgrade path to Solaris 11 Express.
||This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (December 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
The first indication of Apple Inc.'s interest in ZFS was an April 2006 post on the opensolaris.org zfs-discuss mailing list where an Apple employee mentioned being interested in porting ZFS to their OS X operating system. In the release version of Mac OS X 10.5, ZFS was available in read-only mode from the command line, which lacks the possibility to create zpools or write to them. Before the 10.5 release, Apple released the "ZFS Beta Seed v1.1", which allowed read-write access and the creation of zpools,; however, the installer for the "ZFS Beta Seed v1.1" has been reported to only work on version 10.5.0, and has not been updated for version 10.5.1 and above. In August 2007, Apple opened a ZFS project on their Mac OS Forge web site. On that site, Apple provided the source code and binaries of their port of ZFS which includes read-write access, but there was no installer available until a third-party developer created one. In October 2009, Apple announced a shutdown of the ZFS project on Mac OS Forge. That is to say that their own hosting and involvement in ZFS was summarily discontinued. No explanation was given, just the following statement: "The ZFS project has been discontinued. The mailing list and repository will also be removed shortly." Apple would eventually release the legally required, CDDL-derived, portion of the source code of their final public beta of ZFS, code named "10a286". Complete ZFS support was once advertised as a feature of Snow Leopard Server (Mac OS X Server 10.6). However, by the time the operating system was released, all references to this feature had been silently removed from its features page. Apple has not commented regarding the omission.
Apple's "10a286" source code release, and versions of the previously released source and binaries, have been preserved and new development has been adopted by a group of enthusiasts. The MacZFS (now github) project acted quickly to mirror the public archives of Apple's project before the materials would have disappeared from the internet, and then to resume its development elsewhere. The MacZFS community has curated and matured the project, supporting ZFS for all Mac OS releases since 10.5. The project has an active mailing list. As of July 2012, MacZFS implements zpool version 8 and ZFS version 2, from the October 2008 release of Solaris. Additional historical information and commentary can be found on the MacZFS web site and (broken) Frequently Asked Questions page.
The 17th September 2013 launch of OpenZFS included ZFS-OSX, which will become a new version of MacZFS, as the distribution for Darwin.
- APFS – for Apple operating systems
- Btrfs – for Linux
- Comparison of file systems
- HAMMER – a file system with a similar feature set for DragonFly BSD
- LFS – BSD Log Structured Filesystem
- List of file systems
- LVM – Logical Volume Manager (Linux), supports snapshots
- LZJB – data compression algorithm used in ZFS
- NILFS – a Linux file system with checksumming (but not scrubbing), also supporting snapshots
- ReFS – a Microsoft file system with built-in resiliency features
- Sun Open Storage
- Veritas File System and Veritas Volume Manager – similar to ZFS
- Versioning file systems – List of versioning file systems
- Write Anywhere File Layout – a similar file system by NetApp
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The largest SI prefix we liked was 'zetta' ('yotta' was out of the question)
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- GPL Violations Related to Combining ZFS and Linux on sfconservancy.org by Bradley M. Kuhn and Karen M. Sandler "Conservancy (as a Linux copyright holder ourselves), along with the members of our coalition in the GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, all agree that Canonical and others infringe Linux copyrights when they distribute zfs.ko."
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- The OpenZFS Project
- Comparison of SVM mirroring and ZFS mirroring
- EON ZFS Storage (NAS) distribution
- ZFS on Linux Homepage
- End-to-end Data Integrity for File Systems: A ZFS Case Study
- ZFS – The Zettabyte File System, archived from the original on February 28, 2013
- ZFS and RAID-Z: The Über-FS?
- ZFS: The Last Word In File Systems, by Jeff Bonwick and Bill Moore
- Visualizing the ZFS intent log (ZIL), April 2013, by Aaron Toponce