SUSE Linux Enterprise 10: File System Support FAQ

Why has Novell decided to make ext3 the default file system in SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 instead of remaining with ReiserFS or choosing OCFS2?

This change is a response to recent customer demand. Novell is seeing increasing numbers of customers who prefer ext3 to ReiserFS, and our choice of default for SUSE® Linux Enterprise 11 reflects this. Today, ext3 and ReiserFS v3 are mostly on par: ext3 has very recently gained some scalability enhancements (h-trees) and online expansion support (in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10). Furthermore, ext3 now features more than three years of journaling hardening, which makes it competitive with ReiserFS v3. OCFS2 is a parallel cluster file system designed for specific workloads, but it is unlikely that it will have root/boot support by SUSE Linux Enterprise 11.

Is Novell abandoning ReiserFS?

Not at all. Novell continues to support and improve ReiserFS v3. It is also included in mainline kernel distributions and will continue to receive enterprise support in future SUSE Linux Enterprise distributions, including SUSE Linux Enterprise 11. Customers who deploy SUSE Linux Enterprise 9 or SUSE Linux Enterprise 10—and determine that ReiserFS is best for their companies' applications or service use cases—should use ReiserFS. This will continue to be the case in SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, as users will still be able to create new file systems with it. ReiserFS v3 will be supported and maintained for the full lifetime of the SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 platform. Novell has always recommended using the best file system for each application or service, and ReiserFS v3 is one of several supported file systems in SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 and 11. In addition, users updating from SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 to SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 will not experience any problems. SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 will automatically detect and use the existing file system. No conversion is needed.

Why did SUSE Linux Enterprise use ReiserFS in the first place?

About seven years ago, SUSE needed an enterprise scalable journaled file system, and ReiserFS was the only one available. After arranging for support with NameSys (the Reiser development team) and building internal expertise, ReiserFS was the obvious choice. At that time, ext3 did not yet exist; it did not appear until about four years later. In addition, ext3 has only recently gained key enterprise-level features such as online expansion and scalability, which ReiserFS v3 has had for years.

After ReiserFS v4 is accepted in the mainline kernel, will Novell switch back to supporting it in future versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise?

While it is possible that Novell will support ReiserFS v4 in future enterprise deployments (when it is stable, enterprise worthy and included in the mainline kernel), it is unlikely that it will become the default installation choice.

Is this change in the default file system going to appear in the future service packs of SUSE Linux Enterprise 10?

No. Novell doesn't make default configuration changes in service packs. Doing so would cause too much disruption to existing customer deployments of SUSE Linux Enterprise 10.

There are other file systems included in SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 in addition to ReiserFS, ext3, XFS and OCFS2. Are those other file systems supported?

The other file systems are included for convenience and are not directly supported by Novell. Other vendors may offer support for these systems (for example, IBM for the JFS file system). In addition, there are third-party addon file systems (such as PolyServe or Symantec-Veritas), which are supported by their respective vendors on SUSE Linux Enterprise.

SUSE® Linux Enterprise: File System Support

File Systems in SUSE Linux Enterprise 10

The SUSE Linux Enterprise platform—including its related products, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop—is the only Linux distribution that offers broad out-of-the-box support for a number of file systems. In SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, Novell® provides enterprise support for the ReiserFS v3, ext3, XFS, and OCFS2 file systems. Each of these file systems has its strengths for specific types of applications and workloads. This gives customers more flexibility, enabling them to deploy the file system that best meets the needs of their existing environment. For a more detailed overview of file systems, including those delivered with SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, please refer to the Novell File System Primer.

In SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 and prior versions, the best file system for scalability and all-around performance has been ReiserFS v3. For more specific uses, other file systems have been recommended. For example, OCFS2 is the recommended file system for organizations with Oracle RAC workloads running on both SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 SP2 and the latest SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 release. Similarly, ext3 has been recommended for small file systems, typically those used in edge services in prior distributions. XFS has been recommended for large file systems that also contain large files (such as video rendering). Novell will continue to support all of these file systems well into the future.

File System Future Directions

Today's open source developers expect organizations to communicate software changes as early as possible. Novell realizes this and is committed to keeping the community up to date. For the upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, Novell will be changing the default file system in new installations from ReiserFS v3 to ext3. (As noted above, ReiserFS v3 will still be supported in SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 for the full lifetime of that platform.) The openSUSE™ versions first reflected this change, starting with openSUSE 10.2. The openSUSE community builds provide the foundation for the subsequent enterprise distribution releases, which in this case will be SUSE Linux Enterprise 11.

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