Apple can do better than Sun’s ZFS

Apple StoreApple has posted a notice on their “Apple has decided not to use ZFS on Mac OS X,” Louis Gerbarg writes for /dev/why!?!

“Sun calls ZFS ‘The Last Word in Filesystems.’ but that is hyperbole. ZFS is one of the first widely deployed copy on write FSes. That certainly makes it a tremendous improvement over existing FSes, but pioneers are the ones with arrows in their back. By looking at ZFS’s development it is certainly possible to identify mistakes that they made, and ways to do things better if one were to start from scratch,” Gerbarg writes.

“Apple has a lot of talented filesystem engineers,” Gerbarg writes. “They are certainly capable of doing something comparable to ZFS, at least for their target market. The problem with developing a new modern filesystem is that it generally takes longer than a single OS release cycle. Most companies are really bad at having large teams focused on projects that will not ship in the next version of the project they are working on.”

Gerbarg writes, “This is a particularly acute problem at Apple, which traditionally has done things with very few engineers… I think people don’t appreciate how productive Apple is on a per-engineer basis. The downside of that is that sometimes it is hard to find the resources to do something large and time consuming, particularly when it is not something that most users will notice in a direct sense.”

Gerbarg writes, “The only major downside [with Apple developing a new modern filesystem in-house] is that if Apple is just starting on a next generation FS now it could be a long time before we get our hands on it.”

Full article – recommended – here.

[Attribution: Daring Fireball. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MacRadDoc” for the heads up.]


  1. ZFS wasn’t some bolt-on product Apple would deploy on a future release of OS X. They would have been integrating code to allow for seamless operation.

    The work would have started at least ten years ago, so it wouldn’t surprise me if all Apple had to do is begin replacing Sun’s work with their own.

    In other words, Apple could be much farther along than we think.

  2. I never understood how a normal person like myself would benefit from ZFS outside of parity reasons.

    Pools sounded like a pain for me on my laptop. I use a lot of external storage, but disconnect and reconnect quite often. Maybe I’m not seeing it, but it always sounded like with ZFS there wasn’t a real way to know what was on one volume vs another. Just a big pool of data that got larger and smaller. So, when disconnected and was on the go I wouldn’t know if I had some of my files on my laptop that I needed. If I ran server farms and has huge numbers of static drive, it sounds fabulous. For me as an individual with portable needs it didn’t sound so hot.

  3. @MacFinder
    “Maybe Apple is developing an update to HFS.”

    They did that years ago matey.
    It’s called HFS plus ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  4. The feature that appealed to me is self-healing data, obviating the need for backups and Time Machine.

    Um, if the physical hard drive dies, G4Dualie, you’re defintely still going to want backups on a separate drive!

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