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August 26th, 2015

For Linux, It’s Another Day, Another File System

In case you weren’t paying attention, there’s a new Linux file system on the horizon, thanks to a former Google engineer.

That engineer in question, namely Kent Overstreet, posted a message on LKML.org last week promoting the progress of Bcache File System, or Bcachefs, the first Linux file system written specifically for solid state disks. The purpose of the new file system is to ramp up the speed in the way Linux stores data on servers.

File system“Yet another new filesystem? Why?” Overstreet asks in his post. And then he adeptly answers the age-old question.

“Well, years ago (going back to when I was still at Google), I and the other people working on bcache realized that what we were working on was, almost by accident, a good chunk of the functionality of a full blown filesystem — and there was a really clean and elegant design to be had there if we took it and ran with it,” Overstreet wrote. “And a fast one — the main goal of bcachefs to match ext4 and xfs on performance and reliability, but with the features of btrfs/zfs.”

Overstreet further explains that Bcachefs is a modern Copy-on-Write (COW) file system “with checksumming, compression, multiple devices, caching, and eventually snapshots and all kinds of other nifty features.”

Bcachefs is “more or less feature complete,” and the more adventurous of you can go ahead and try it out by following the instructions in Overstreet’s post, where he outlines how to obtain it under “current status.”

So where is Overstreet going with this?

“My main priority is getting the code sufficiently stable and tested for production use, probably the #2 priority is snapshots,” Overstreet said. “Bcachefs won’t be done in a month (or a year), but I do want to see it out there and getting used.”

Overstreet has been working on this full-time and he writes, “that’s only going to last as long as my interest and my savings account hold out. So — this would be a wonderful time both for other developers to jump in and get involved, and for potential users to pony up some funding. If you think this is interesting and worthwhile and you want to see it completed and upstream — especially if you’re at a company that might make use of it — talk to your $manager or whoever and nag them until they send me a check :)”

The mailing list for the project can be found at [email protected] and also makes an appearance on IRC at #bcache on OFTC.

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Larry Cafiero

Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

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2 comments to For Linux, It’s Another Day, Another File System

  • I would at least do a drive and pitch to the ssd manufacturers to see what they have to say.

    bcachefs?

    Deity forbid we should ever name a Linux/FOSS application something that has a correct vowel placement. Something that might make sense to, I dunno, someone who might us it?

    Just riffin’ but really…..

  • Erik

    @Ken:
    The name “bcachefs” makes perfect sense: it’s a fs (file system) based on the software “bcache” (“block cache”).

    By the way, “someone who might usE it”. So much for “correct vowel placement” 😉