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#1 2005-09-13 23:37:07

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Which filesystem should I use?

Given the inefficiency of my current partition arrangement - a little under 10 gigs of root directory, something like 3 times as much for /home, several hundred megs of swap, and an empty 40-gig HDD - I'll soon be rearranging my stuff in a more suitable fashion. And lately, a lot of people seem to be complaining about ReiserFS, so I figured I might want to try something different.

Reiser4, as neat as it looks, seems to still be undergoing some development, and is not supported by the stock kernel; so my options are thus:

JFS. According to these benchmarks, it is as fast as ReiserFS or faster for most things, though it suffers performance hits in some areas.

XFS. I've heard some good things about it, but it seems to be best for dealing with very large files, which I usually don't. Also, I'd like to know more about the fragmentation issues.

ext3. According to the benchmarks mentioned above, it's quite slow, but directory indexing and non-default journally options were apparently not used in the tests... So I don't really know how good it is.

ReiserFS. I might end up not wanting to change file systems... But ReiserFS 3.6 does have a few problems, so I'm definitely open to alternatives,


Also, I'd like to know - given that I have 384 megs of RAM, and rarely use more than half, should I put in a swap partition?

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#2 2005-09-13 23:50:52

Dusty
Schwag Merchant
From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Registered: 2004-01-18
Posts: 5,986
Website

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

I always just flip a coin for partition. You probably won't notice the speed difference even if you use ext3. Try something you haven't tried just for the hell of it.

384 mb doesn't seem like very much RAM to me, but... it depends. I guess I'd suggest make a swap partition in case you need it later. Its not like they take up much room, really. Of course, you could always buy ram or use a swap file (instead of partition) if you find yourself thrashing someday...

Dusty

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#3 2005-09-14 01:20:16

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

I wouldn't want to use a swap file - much slower than a swap partition. What the heck, I'll put in 2 gigs of swap on my master drive.

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#4 2005-09-14 05:36:13

Moo-Crumpus
Member
From: Hessen / Germany
Registered: 2003-12-01
Posts: 1,441

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Give jfs a try. I use it since years, and if you take care that you have jfsutils installed (and up to date) it should be best choice today.


Frumpus addict
[mu'.krum.pus], [frum.pus]

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#5 2005-09-15 20:30:49

nightfrost
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2005-04-16
Posts: 647

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

if you install the archck-kernel from [community], you'll have support for reiser4 as well. The only filesystem I've never tried is jfs - I'd like to try it at some point.

reiser4 is pretty nice, but like you say it's still controversial and hasn't had much testing. That said, I use it on most of my partitions (/usr, /var, /opt) and have had no problems yet.

XFS is really sweet; especially for large partitions. I've noticed that partitions larger than, say, 60G take a noticeable amount of time to get mounted if they're formatted with reiser3/4. With xfs, they mount instantly. The big problem with XFS is its getting fragmented. Luckily there is a defragmentation utility for xfs filesystems as part of the xfsdump package. Unfortunately, xfsdump is not included either under [current], [extra], or [community]. I've filed a feature request though, so let's see what happens.

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#6 2005-09-15 20:43:31

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Reiser4 is out. If I have a big crash, and can't boot from the hard drive, I want to be able to mount my drives when I boot from a CD or floppy.

XFS is kind of interesting... It's supposed to have excellent measures (better than ReiserFS's) to prevent fragmentation, yet complaints of massive fragmentation of the sort you experienced seem quite common. I've no idea what's up with that.

BTW... Do you know anything about JFS? I've heard both good and terrible things about it...

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#7 2005-09-15 21:10:50

jondkent
Member
From: London
Registered: 2005-09-13
Posts: 123

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Hi,

I've had bad probs with ext3, managed to self imploded itself which wasn't pretty, totally unrecoverable  sad

I've used XFS for a number of years now we no problems at all, and that is what I've used for Arch (except for the boot partition which is ext2).  As another poster mentioned, at the end of the day if you using a desktop you will not notice a speeds ups no matter which partition you use.

Reiser4 is out IMHO.  The kernel guys have major issues with it, so it'll have to undergo some serious changed before it makes it into the stock kernel.  For filesystem I feel it is safer to use one that is in the stock kernel to future proof yourself somewhat.

Swap, hmm well always go to have some set aside.  For a system <1GB 1 to 1.5x is a good finger in the air size.  >1gb I tend to go for 0.5x to 0.75x, although it has to be said on my box (2GB memory) I have yet to use swap.  It depends deeply upon the apps you run and may run in the future.

Hope that helps

Jon

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#8 2005-09-15 21:17:43

dtw
Forum Fellow
From: London, UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,428
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Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Gullible Jones wrote:

Reiser4 is out. If I have a big crash, and can't boot from the hard drive, I want to be able to mount my drives when I boot from a CD or floppy.

Why not use a reiser4 enabled rescue disk?

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#9 2005-09-15 21:43:20

nightfrost
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2005-04-16
Posts: 647

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

XFS is kind of interesting... It's supposed to have excellent measures (better than ReiserFS's) to prevent fragmentation, yet complaints of massive fragmentation of the sort you experienced seem quite common. I've no idea what's up with that.

Hmm... interesting. I've never seen indications of that. I've always managed to have it extremely fragmented rather fast :-?  I really hope xfsdump will be included soon (I'm having issues compiling it myself)

BTW... Do you know anything about JFS? I've heard both good and terrible things about it...

Absolutely nothing. For me, JFS is a big mystery. That's why I'm interested in trying it out at some point. Only thing preventing me from trying it out is the fact that reiser4 seems so darn good, that it makes little sense to run something else...

Reiser4 is out IMHO. The kernel guys have major issues with it, so it'll have to undergo some serious changed before it makes it into the stock kernel. For filesystem I feel it is safer to use one that is in the stock kernel to future proof yourself somewhat.

AFAIK, Hans has been taking care of all the issues, but I guess reiser4 won't be merged until 2.6.15, since there's a feature freeze for 2.6.14

This is a quote from a recent  interview with Hans.

Jeremy Andrews: What needs to be done to get Reiser4 merged into the 2.6 kernel?

Hans Reiser: Everything that was last requested to be done has been done and will be sent off around Friday, if more things get invented who knows?

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#10 2005-09-15 22:12:24

dtw
Forum Fellow
From: London, UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,428
Website

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Last I heard the kernel devs were wetting their pants about the plugin system and how bad it was...

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#11 2005-09-15 23:04:11

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Bad as in good or bad as in garbage?

As for the XFS fragmentation issue: yes, XFS uses delayed allocation - the same thing that Reiser4 uses to prevent fragmentation. The XFS defrag tool is supposed to be unnecessary under most circumstances. Maybe there's something wrong with the mount options you're using in fstab?

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#12 2005-09-15 23:12:17

dtw
Forum Fellow
From: London, UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,428
Website

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Gullible Jones wrote:

Bad as in good or bad as in garbage?

damn Michael Jackson - bad as in not good smile I was trying to be specific too!

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#13 2005-09-15 23:21:35

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Sorry, it's just that I've heard of people wetting their pants about how good are supposed to be too. lol

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#14 2005-09-16 02:26:34

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Well, after a bit more research... ReiserFS 3.6 it is. I'm copying all the necessary stuff to my slave drive now.

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#15 2005-09-16 04:13:25

Moo-Crumpus
Member
From: Hessen / Germany
Registered: 2003-12-01
Posts: 1,441

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

BTW... Do you know anything about JFS? I've heard both good and terrible things about it...

Absolutely nothing. For me, JFS is a big mystery. That's why I'm interested in trying it out at some point. Only thing preventing me from trying it out is the fact that reiser4 seems so darn good, that it makes little sense to run something else...

Read http://jfs.sourceforge.net/.


Frumpus addict
[mu'.krum.pus], [frum.pus]

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#16 2005-09-16 08:18:52

nightfrost
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2005-04-16
Posts: 647

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Gullible Jones wrote:

As for the XFS fragmentation issue: yes, XFS uses delayed allocation - the same thing that Reiser4 uses to prevent fragmentation. The XFS defrag tool is supposed to be unnecessary under most circumstances. Maybe there's something wrong with the mount options you're using in fstab?

That seems to me to be a bad (=not good smile) method of preventing fragmentation, as I've heard people having problems with reiser4 fragmentation as well. There is some talk about releasing a repacker for reiser4, so the xfs- and reiser4- devs seem well aware of the fragmentation problems that their filesystems suffer. The question is: do the other filesystems get fragmented?. My mount options are noatime+defaults; so nothing strange there as far as I know...

Check this out

[root@nightfrost ~]# df | grep shared
/dev/hda4              44G   24G   21G  54% /home/shared
[root@nightfrost ~]# xfs_db -r /dev/hda4
xfs_db> frag
actual 678279, ideal 4674, fragmentation factor 99.31%
xfs_db> quit
[root@nightfrost ~]# 

That's just sick!

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#17 2005-09-16 14:49:53

jondkent
Member
From: London
Registered: 2005-09-13
Posts: 123

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Blimey that is some serious fragmentation, what are you running?  FYI my XFS partition (a couple of years old now) reports:

xfs_db> frag
actual 299672, ideal 298658, fragmentation factor 0.34%
xfs_db>

Which is off my workstation at work, which is left on 24hours a day btw.

Jon

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#18 2005-09-16 16:15:35

nightfrost
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2005-04-16
Posts: 647

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

woah! your figures look really good... I can add that the partition had been in use for less than a few months!

However, I have my suspicions that it is azureus doing that. The partition is mainly used for stuff I download; distros, media, anything. And it'd been working pretty hard for a few days when checked the fragmentation level... but I don't know. I just figured the bittorrent works, it's bound to fragment any filesystem.

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#19 2005-09-16 17:47:26

jondkent
Member
From: London
Registered: 2005-09-13
Posts: 123

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Hi,

FYI (trying not to boast here), this is from my Gentoo box root partition, which obviously gets regular updates to the portage cache in /usr/portage and package updates.

I would post my stats from my Arch box, its too new at the moment (1 week old and 0% frag which you'd expect)

Laterz

Jon

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#20 2005-09-16 18:08:22

nightfrost
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2005-04-16
Posts: 647

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

well, I'd love to know why I'm having the problems I do. The only thing that I can think of is bittorrent...

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#21 2005-09-16 23:00:38

sh__
Member
Registered: 2005-07-19
Posts: 271

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Well, a simple way to reduce file fragmentation caused by many p2p applications is the cp command:

$ cp downloaded.file temp.file
$ mv temp.file downloaded.file

For ext3 (or ext2) filesystems, one can check how fragmented a file is with the filefrag command (as root). An example:

$ filefrag downloaded.file
downloaded.file: 28146 extents found, perfection would be 2 extents
$ cp downloaded.file temp.file
$ mv temp.file downloaded.file
$ filefrag downloaded.file
downloaded.file: 158 extents found, perfection would be 2 extents

I expect that this would work for XFS also.

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#22 2005-09-16 23:52:14

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Well, while doing the reinstall schmeel, I was struck by a momentary change of mind and tried XFS.

And all I can say is wow... That filesystem is worse than I thought. :shock: Perceptibly slower than ReiserFS (without notail), and started giving me slow pacman problems very quickly.

Also, GRUB had some trouble installing, and a bunch of apps (including links and the XFS tools) kept on segfaulting, but that may have been unrelated.

I can say definitively, though, that my system felt quite slow and unresponsive.

I ended up reinstalling with ReiserFS 3.6, and as of right now everything seems to be fine.

BTW, for those who wish to use Reiser4: I don't know much about its performance, but I can tell you that it takes a rather long time to mount. :?

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#23 2005-09-17 00:04:38

iBertus
Member
From: Greenville, NC
Registered: 2004-11-04
Posts: 2,228

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

The slow pacman performance with XFS is due to the fact that XFS is designed to manage a small number of really big files. It's a filesystem for multimedia production machines and isn't made for typical use. ReiserFS on the other hand is made for keeping track of lots of small files with little performance hit from adding more files. Anything that involves large numbers of file accesses runs much faster on reiser than almost anything else - pacman is no exception.

In regards to Reiser4, I have noticed the excessive mount times you mention. I feel these are made up for by the performance of the filesystem. I used Reiser4 a few weeks ago and never had any complaint about the speed. I did have a few complaints about sudden changes in the internal structure of the filesystem that seemed to fubar stuff between revisions.

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#24 2005-09-17 01:21:47

MrCoul
Member
From: Alabama
Registered: 2005-09-09
Posts: 10

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

Everybody has a favourite, sometimes just because of use/familiarty, sometimes with a real reason.

Sometimes a FS will crash ( and it may not be recoverable, esp. if it was something else in the kernel that went AWOL ).

I use ext3. My reasons for this are simple and you may want to consider.

1. It's never crapped out on me.
2. Most distros/live cds, and tiny linux bootables support it, so I can find something to get at my files if I knacker the bootloader or kernel.
3. I can read it from windows ( see case 2 ) - I dual boot, so I know that I'll have windows around unless I've killed grub!

It doesn't impact boot-time. Reiser can, and reboot time is important to me.


I think, that unless you deal with a network server, or you have lots or large ( several Gb ) files, ext3 will work fine for anybody.

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#25 2005-09-17 01:46:43

T-Dawg
Forum Fellow
From: Wilmington, NC
Registered: 2005-01-29
Posts: 2,734

Re: Which filesystem should I use?

hey gullible, I think it would be great to turn this into a poll. Although I think only a mod can do that once the user has already posted. I'll set it up for you if you like, just give me the word. Its up to you.

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