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

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 ZFS co-founder Matt Ahrens– the group of ZFS lovers, which includes developers from the illumos, FreeBSD, Linux, and OS X platforms, as well as an assortment of other parties who are building products on top of OpenZFS, have set out a clear set of objectives.

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 ‘unpimped’ 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 OpenSolaris, 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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