Few things in the Linux world get as much of a heated debate as the choice and usage of file systems. This debate has been raging long and hard between supporters of the major enterprise distributions for some years, with the two positions staked out being XFS and Ext4.
This conflict is about to change and thus bring some unity of thought to the major enterprise players.
Red Hat recently announced that RHEL 7 will likely have XFS as the default file system because “it’s a better match for our enterprise customers”stated Denise Dumas, Director of Software Engineering for Red Hat during an interview with TechTarget. This reflects a change from Ext4, the default file system used in RHEL 6 and an apparent departure from Red Hat charging for XFS support in their enterprise server product.
Interestingly enough, this brings Red Hat into alignment with the position that SUSE has been presenting for some time. For about the last 11 years, SUSE has been a fervent supporter of the use of XFS in the enterprise and has shied away from ext4, and we have been the recipient of a lot of criticism because of it.
SUSE has included XFS file system support at no cost since the release of SLES 8. This can be attributed to many reasons including scalability, performance and general robustness of the code. While this may have seemed a little edgy 11 years ago, SUSE based its decision on sound engineering and the belief that XFS offered a major value proposition to enterprise customers.
SUSE has avoided Ext4 due to concerns about scalability as the tools package only recently supported file systems in excess of 16TB. Ext4 also suffers from issues that require applications to be updated and make use of fsync calls to guarantee data is committed to disk. Applications that do not make proper use of these calls run the risk of data loss should a sudden power loss be experienced. While partially fixed with patches to the 2.6.30 kernel, concerns still persist with software that has not been updated to issue fsync calls when overwriting existing file data.
While it’s nice for SUSE to be vindicated for its choice of enterprise file systems, it’s even better that the community has found yet another thing on which it can agree: XFS as today’s enterprise file system of choice.
To find out more about XFS go to xfs.org.