Avoid storage lock-in (goodbye NTFS hello ZFS)
By bnitz on Jun 20, 2007
I wanted to transfer a few gigabytes of photos to my father's external USB storage drive a few days ago . I copied the photos from my laptop's ZFS partition to a FAT32 partition so Ubuntu on the same laptop could read them. My father's External USB drive was preformatted NTFS which meant our Solaris, Ubuntu Linux and OSX machines could read it, but none of these could write to it! (Yes I did try the Ubuntu FUSE plug-in, no dice.) This got me to thinking, what is the best cross platform filesystem? Most digital camera and USB keychain drives use FAT or FAT32 as their least common denominator filesystem. The assumption is that everyone is either running a variant of Microsoft Windows or something which can read this ancient kludge of a filesystem (FAT32 somehow reminds me of VGER in Star Trek 1.) As drives grow larger, FAT scalability problems appear and NTFS can't be reliably read or written to by anything other than Microsoft Windows. Clearly we need a new common file system but what should it be? HFS and HFS+ are pretty good, but not popular and getting old. One of my filesystems classes used Amiga's weird FFS as an example of something which had clear advantages over FAT, but even though its scalability and usability were fantastic by 1980s standards, it doesn't quite cut it for 2007. Ditto for UFS. For a while it seemed that ReiserFS was gaining traction in the GNU/Linux community but license and other issues prevented it from growing outside of the GNU/linux community. ZFS has some clear advantages and it's becoming apparent that it will at least be an option on Apple's OSX 10.5 leopard operating system. And now ZFS is available on GNU/Linux. The fact ZFS will be available on 3 out of the 4 operating systems which run on my family's computers convinced me that ZFS can meet my personal storage requirements. Now we only need to convince one more company to consider adopting a 21st century filesystem. Unfortunately that company seems to have a long history of subverting standards in order to lock consumers into its monopoly. Let's hope consumers have learned something from history.