Butter bei die Fische!
If Brazil, one of the world biggest producers of beef, would announce to stop producing fish: would you wonder, whether Peru, one of the world biggest producers of fish, would stop producing fish?
You probably wouldn’t.
If one of the rather small contributors to the btrfs filesystem announced to not support btrfs for production systems: should you wonder, whether SUSE, strongest contributor to btrfs today, would stop investing into btrfs?
You probably shouldn’t.
SUSE is committed to btrfs as the default filesystem for SUSE Linux Enterprise, and beyond.
“Butter bei die Fische” is a German idiom, meaning: Put the facts on the table! Let’s have a straight talk!
Let’s have a straight talk about btrfs.
#1 Upstream contributor
Executing on our strategy, established since my blog about Choice in 2009, SUSE has invested into btrfs, and grew from a rather small to the number one contributor of btrfs today.
It’s important to realize though that btrfs is not SUSE alone: Facebook, Fujitsu, Oracle, and others are actively involved in contributing to btrfs, making btrfs a true community effort.
Introducing a new filesystem requires some careful consideration, development, and testing — and you need to start small and build up your features and use cases. The table in our release notes shows quite nicely, how we started with Copy-on-write and Snapshots six years back, added Out-of-band Deduplication in 2012, simple RAID functionality back in 2014, Compression in 2015, and ended up supporting the eagerly anticipated Send-Receive-functionality just last year (2016).
And against the demand of some partners, we are still refusing to support “Automatic Defragmentation”, “In-band Deduplication” and higher RAID levels, because the quality of these options is not where it ought to be. Let’s see, what we can do for you in SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 next year, 2018, …
Expanding Use Cases
Originally, we introduced btrfs for mission critical systems, to support snapshot-rollback of package installations.
With SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 (2014) we added snapshot-rollback of the whole root filesystem, thus even supporting rollback of kernel installations and updates. As of today, this still is the only mature implementation of this functionality in the Linux world, supporting SUSE’s customers in building zero downtime infrastructures.
However, innovation does not stop here. The unique feature set of btrfs allows us to do things that need complex stacks of other components on other file systems, quite often with performance or usability drawbacks.
Let me name several examples:
In 2016, we used btrfs, and specifically its built-in compression, to create efficient images for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for the Rapsberry Pi.
This year, we introduced the SUSE Container as a Service Platform and SUSE MicroOS with “Transactional Updates”. As the host filesystem for container deployments on this platform we are supporting btrfs, using a native btrfs driver in the container engine, that is without the need for an overlay filesystem inbetween container and host, and thus improving the space efficiency when storing containers — flat and layered.
And there is more to come:
We just start to see the opportunities from subvolume quotas when managing Quality of Service (QoS) on the storage level.
Compression (already there) combined with Encryption (future) makes btrfs an interesting choice for embedded systems and IoT, as may the full use of send-receive for managing system patches and updates to (Linux based) “firmware”.
You see, SUSE is leveraging its expertise and investing on what matters for enterprise readiness, a field where btrfs has proven in real life to be a great technology over the years, and we go, where open source technology drives innovation.
Stay tuned, and don’t hesitate, to ask!
P.S.: “Butter bei die Fische”, the idiom comes from the practice, to put “butter onto the fish”, to make it more juicy and tasty. You may wonder, how “butter” is related to our topic here? Well, according to Chris Mason, initiator of btrfs, btrfs shall be pronounced “butter-f-s”, as it comes from the CoW.