Saturday, June 18, 2011

ZFS working group

While catching up in zfs-discuss I read an interesting announcement from the ZFS working group. They have created a new versioning method for ZFS allowing different efforts to create new versions of the on-disk format without incompatibility in versioning. This is a thing I myself have been a bit worried about, how differences between different ZFS implementations be handled.

It it good to see efforts to implementing new features for the free ZFS implementation outside of Oracle. Even better is that people like Matthew Ahrens are involved, he was in the ZFS core team at Sun but now works for Delphix. Matthew even worked with implementing BP rewrite which is probably the most requested feature in ZFS.

The ZFS working group are currently working on the future of open ZFS behind closed doors, as described by Garret D'Amore earlier this year:

"There is ZFS development happening outside of Oracle. Many of the
active ZFS developers at a *variety* of organizations are collaborating
within the illumos community using a private e-mail list much like an
standards body Working Group (we even call ourselves the ZFS Working
Group). And not all of the participants here are coming from Solaris
backgrounds -- we have Linux, FreeBSD, and MacOS represented.
(Privacy is important to keep the discussions focused and technical.
And some participants would prefer to keep their participation

I hope we will see more from this group in a near future, it seems likely the open implementation of ZFS will get new features such as a hybrid block allocator and new compression algorithms. With great minds from Nexenta, Delphix and Joyent among others working with illumos I'm sure great things will come.

In the meantime you can use Solaris 11 Express to try out the latest ZFS feature available or OpenIndiana oi_151 which is the open distribution that has the most recent ZFS implementation from illumos.

[zfs-discuss] ZFS working group and feature flags proposal


gtirloni said...

"Privacy is important to keep the discussions focused and technical.
And some participants would prefer to keep their participation

If you want privacy, DON'T join an open source project.

But then, Illumos is far from the usual open source projects we know. More like extending the lifetime of Sun's mistake on that arena.

Henkis said...

If they chose to do things privately I'm fine with that and if they do deliver fixes and new functionality to ZFS that integrates into illumos it will be great. They have an open invitation for people who want and can contribute with other things than opinions, people who have the knowledge to bring ZFS forward.

Garret D'Amore:
"In the meantime, if you're engaged in active ZFS development, or want to be, please contact me off-list and I'll see about getting you added to the private email list."

The closed development that Sun was doing did deliver perhaps the best filesystem/volume manager available, for free. I can't say I can have an opinion on how they worked to achieve that. It would certainly be interesting to follow where this is going but that is up to the pope writing the code, you are otherwise free to improve the ZFS implementation with your own team while keeping it open to the public.

I have nothing but respect for the people involved in this process, I think many will be helped if this improves the free ZFS implementation in time.

There where problems with the OpenSolaris development model, it was hard to get new participants from outside Sun for example. But what it did have was design, components that was delivered to work together, architecture documents and a strong lead that where coordinating the efforts even, or because it was done inside the company.

gtirloni said...

I totally agree. And it doesn't require an open source project to deliver all that. That's my point, nothing has changed much.