HP donates AdvFS code to Linux

June 24, 2008 | 09:44

Tags: #bazaar #code #file-system #unix

Companies: #hewlett-packard #hp #open-source

Yesterday marked the announcement of another gift for the open source world, this time a little more in keeping with its traditional roots: an advanced file system ported over from the world of UNIX.

Kindly donated to the world under the GNU General Public License 2 scheme by HP, the Advanced File System – AdvFS – has been used successfully in the True64 UNIX-based operating system for over sixteen years – so it's got a proven track record. Despite its age, AdvFS is still considered a reliable, scalable file system.

Originally developed by Digital Equipment Corporation, AdvFS has a number of features making it stand apart from current open source file systems used in Linux: on-line shrinking and expansion of file systems with no downtime or rebooting; snapshot capabilities allowing backups to grab open files successfully; easy recovery of deleted files; a simplified storage management system using 'pools' of multiple devices; support for background or on-demand defragmentation; and the ability to move files and free space around the storage pool without downtime in order to maximise performance. It's these advantages, among others, that have made the system so popular amongst creators of really big storage systems – and it should be coming to a Linux distribution near you soon.

Martin Fink, senior vice president of HP's Business Critical Systems section, believes that “Linux customers need full and immediate access to established technology” the company has developed, and pledges that HP will “continue to invest our engineering resources in the development of that technology, while working with the open source community to ensure accessibility and seamless integration.”

From the other side of the fence, Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin hopes that “[i]HP's contribution of the Advanced File System code, coupled with their overall resource commitment to Linux, will greatly accelerate the development and commercial availability of improved system functionality for Linux.

It's not a purely magnanimous gesture on HP's part, of course: by donating the code to the open source community the company will encourage development in improved, more scalable file systems for Linux – which, with a 36.4 percent market share of the Linux server market worldwide, HP is extremely keen to see happen.

If you're interested in trying to shoe-horn AdvFS onto your own Linux server, or you're just curious to see how it all hangs together, HP have put together a SourceForge page containing test suites, source code, and design documentation.

Is anyone hoping that the donation of AdvFS code will lead to an enterprise-grade replacement for the Ext3 file system – especially now that it's looking like ReiserFS isn't going to fit the bill? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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