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Btrfs is a new copy on write (CoW) filesystem for Linux aimed at implementing advanced features while focusing on fault tolerance, repair and easy administration. Jointly developed at Oracle, Red Hat, Fujitsu, Intel, SUSE, STRATO and many others, Btrfs is licensed under the GPL and open for contribution from anyone.

Contents

Stability status

The filesystem disk format is no longer unstable, and it's not expected to change unless there are strong reasons to do so. If there is a format change, file systems with a unchanged format will continue to be mountable and usable by newer kernels.

The Btrfs code base is under heavy development. Every effort is being made to keep it stable and fast. Due to the fast development speed, the state of development of the filesystem improves noticeably with every new Linux version, so it's recommended to run the most modern kernel possible.

For benchmarks, it's recommended to test the latest stable Linux version, and not any older. If possible, it's also recommendable to test the latest Linux development version. Also, it's recommended to test the different options, f.e. different compression options.

If you have any bug, problems, performance issues or questions while using Btrfs, please email the Btrfs mailing list (no subscription required). Please report bugs also on Bugzilla.

Features

Linux has a wealth of filesystems from which to choose, but we are facing a number of challenges with scaling to the large storage subsystems that are becoming common in today's data centers. Filesystems need to scale in their ability to address and manage large storage, and also in their ability to detect, repair and tolerate errors in the data stored on disk.

The main Btrfs features available at the moment include:

  • Extent based file storage
  • 2^64 byte == 16 EiB maximum file size
  • Space-efficient packing of small files
  • Space-efficient indexed directories
  • Dynamic inode allocation
  • Writable snapshots, read-only snapshots
  • Subvolumes (separate internal filesystem roots)
  • Checksums on data and metadata (crc32c)
  • Compression (zlib and LZO)
  • Integrated multiple device support
    • File Striping, File Mirroring, File Striping+Mirroring, Striping with Single and Dual Parity implementations
  • SSD (Flash storage) awareness (TRIM/Discard for reporting free blocks for reuse) and optimizations (e.g. avoiding unnecessary seek optimizations, sending writes in clusters, even if they are from unrelated files. This results in larger write operations and faster write throughput)
  • Efficient Incremental Backup
  • Background scrub process for finding and fixing errors on files with redundant copies
  • Online filesystem defragmentation
  • Offline filesystem check
  • Conversion of existing ext3/4 file systems
  • Seed devices. Create a (readonly) filesystem that acts as a template to seed other Btrfs filesystems. The original filesystem and devices are included as a readonly starting point for the new filesystem. Using copy on write, all modifications are stored on different devices; the original is unchanged.
  • Subvolume-aware quota support
  • Send/receive of subvolume changes
    • Efficient incremental filesystem mirroring
  • Batch, or out-of-band deduplication (happens after writes, not during)

Additional features in development, or planned, include:

  • Very fast offline filesystem check
  • Object-level mirroring and striping
  • Alternative checksum algorithms
  • Online filesystem check
  • Other compression methods (snappy, lz4)
  • Hot data tracking and moving to faster devices (currently being pushed as a generic feature available through VFS)
  • In-band deduplication (happens during writes)

News

Coming in 3.12 (highlights or user visible changes)

  • Major performance improvement for send/receive with large numbers of subvolumes
  • Support for batch deduplication (userspace tools required)
  • new mount option commit to set the commit interval
  • Lots of stability and bugfix patches

Read about past releases in the Changelog

Articles, presentations, podcasts

Documentation

Guides and usage information

Project information/Contact

Using the built-in tools

  • btrfs — main administration tool
  • mkfs.btrfs — creating the filesystem
  • btrfsck — repairing file systems
  • restore and find-root — utilities to find and restore data from an unmountable filesystem
  • btrfs-convert — tool to convert in-place from ext2/3/4 filesystems to btrfs

Developer documentation

  • Code documentation — trees, source files, sample code for manipulating trees
  • Data Structures — detailed on-disk data structures
  • Trees — detailed in-tree representation of files and directories

Source code download

Benchmarking

Personal tools