ZFS On Mac: Now All-But-Official Pt. II

by Robin Harris on Wednesday, 6 June, 2007

All we need now is teh Steve to say it . . .
Thanks to alert reader Petieg, I’ve learned that according to Mac Rumors Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said today that

In fact, this week you’ll see that Apple is announcing at their Worldwide Developer Conference that ZFS has become the file system in Mac OS 10.

Jonathan is wrong, of course, but it was sweet of him to say it
Folks tell me that if ZFS is in Leopard it is pretty well hidden. I’ll stick to my prediction that Apple, as with HFS+, will put ZFS on OS X Server first before bringing it out later for the great unwashed.

For one thing it will fix a persistent problem Xserve RAID admins have: pulling out the wrong drive, or scrambling drives, and losing lots of bits. V cool.

Now I’m going to pat myself on the back
As I noted in Bring Me the Head of WinFS:

Can Apple Trump Vista With ZFS?
Apple now has a clear path to trump Vista’s aging data management with a port of ZFS. While not offering a relational database and the promise of a single cross-application data store, ZFS is a modern file/storage management system whose end-to-end data integrity and protection makes it a strong foundation for future innovation. NTFS and Apple’s HFS+ are no match for it. Let’s hope Apple says more at their World Wide Developer Conference in August.

Well, cough, cough, it looks like August 2006 is finally arriving next week.

The NEW news
I finally put two and two together and figured this out: ZFS will be great for flash disks. Unlike today’s Mac OS and Windows, ZFS bunches writes – kind of like NetApp’s WAFL – which is just what flash drives need since their random write performance is even worse than I’d realized.

In fact, it just occurs to me that it could be on the iPhone. Why? Because Bonwick, Moore, et. al. managed to write all this stuff in very little code.

More info coming on flash
I’ve been delving deep into flash disks. Can you say “weird”? My take now is that flash drives are to disk drives what quantum mechanics is to Newtonian physics. I’m planning to have something out next week.

The StorageMojo take
The real importance of ZFS on Mac is that it raises the bar for the entire industry. Journaled file systems are better than not, but as the consumer-driven IT market booms customers need better data protection and recovery tools. And flash drives need a compatible file system. ZFS goes a long way towards meeting both requirements.

Update II: No mention of ZFS in Steve’s keynote or on the Apple website. I doubt we’ll hear much about it until Apple includes it in a release of OS X Server. Maybe in October, maybe not.

Update: Want to know more about ZFS? I’ve been hot on it for over a year. See:

Comments welcome, of course.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gregg Keizer June 6, 2007 at 6:07 pm

I don’t have any more info than what’s out there — I’m efforting clarification from Sun, pinging Apple (yeah, right) — but ran across this from Marc Hamilton, Sun’s director of technology for global education and research, on his company blog.

“Jonathan noted that Apple will announce this week that the ZFS file system from OpenSolaris will become Apple’s new default file system.”

See: http://blogs.sun.com/marchamilton/entry/sun_s_new_modular_blade

Han Solo June 6, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Screenshots have been seen of developer releases of OSX 10.5 that show ZFS in there already….so its been known for a while now that it was going to be in OSX.

See:
http://img187.imageshack.us/my.php?image=picture3mo9.png
http://www.thinksecret.com/archives/leopard9a321/source/picture-1.html

The question everyone has been wondering is if it will be THE FS, and actually be bootable or not. and apparently the answer is yes, it will replace HFS+ as the primary filesystem in OSX.

That does make OSX one notch cooler on the UNIXbased operating system list.

Robin Harris June 6, 2007 at 7:19 pm

Gregg,

I suspect we won’t learn more until Steve’s keynote, if then.

Han,

I’m told by a usually reliable source that the ZFS is not a disk utility option in recent builds.

We’ll see.

Robin

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