Come together, right now

ZFS disciples form one true open source database

Lucy Carey

A group of companies and ZFS users have come together to form OpenZFS, billed as a “truly open source” version of the file system.

The acronym ‘ZFS’ may no longer actually stand for anything, but
the “world’s most advanced file
sharing system
” is in no way redundant. Yesterday, it emerged
that corporate advocates of the Sun Microsystems file system and
logical volume manager have joined together to offer a new “truly
open source” incarnation of the file system, called, fittingly
enough, OpenZFS.

Along with the the launch of the website
– which is incidentally, a domain owned by
co-founder Matt Ahrens
- the group of ZFS lovers, which
includes developers from the illumos, FreeBSD, Linux, and OS
as well as an assortment of other parties who are building products
on top of OpenZFS, have set out a clear set of

Primarily, the participants want to boost
awareness of the “quality, utility, and availability of OpenZFS by
consolidating documentation for developers and sysadmins alike, and
by engaging with the larger tech community through conferences,
meetups, and online interactions”.

Secondly, through the creation of a
collaborative website and a mailing list to discuss OpenZFS code
changes, the group hopes to foster “open communication about
ongoing efforts to improve open source OpenZFS”.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, given the
considerable forks that litter the ZFS timeline, the collective
hopes that by making the inter-platform code sharing process
simpler through housekeeping exercises like the creation of
cross-platform tests, and promoting cross-platform evaluations,
they can guarantee, “consistent reliability, functionality, and
performance of all distributions of OpenZFS”.

ZFS (which originally stood for  ”Zettabyte
File System, before being subsequently ‘
to a meaningless acronym) was first developed by a pair of
engineers at Sun Microsystems back in 2001. Its source code was
later released as part of
and later ported to other platforms.

With over a decade of continuous development, and so many
offshoots along the way, it was about time someone made a
concentrated effort to even out ZFS inconsistencies and make life
simpler for users. It might also help dampen down mutterings that
the code is littered with patents that make it technically
difficult to truly open source.

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