Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MacOSX: ZFS Update

MacOSX: ZFS Update


The Apple Macintosh Operating System was built around the Hierarchal File System (HFS.) The file system was upgraded from 16 bits to 32 bits and renamed HFS+ while several other operating feature were also added. The market has been clamoring for a real storage solution, Apple briefly released a ZFS beta, and finally a new commercial company is doing the heavy lifting of providing MacOSX a reasonably current ZFS implementation.

The Zettabyte File System (ZFS) was built by Sun in 2004 on top of a 128 bit base, differentiating it from competing (16 and 32 bit) platforms. Sun open-sourced ZFS in 2005.

In 2006, a skunkworks operation at Apple started to port ZFS to MacOSX by Chris Emura, (Apple Filesystem Development Manager) and Don Brady(Apple filesystem and OS engineer.) Apple started down the road of adopting of ZFS for MacOSX Server "Leopard" 10.5 in 2007. Mac OSX Server "Snow Leopard" 10.6 was supposed to have full ZFS support, but ZFS was later canceled.

After working on the HFS+ and former Apple ZFS port, 20 year kernel and file system veteran Don Brady announced the formation of corporation "Ten's Complement" to finally bring ZFS to MaxOSX. The intention is to use the Illumos source code base to provide the much needed (and much desired) functionality to MacOSX.

The MacZFS group offered a package download for MacZFS-74.1.0 on March 5, 2011.

Helpful Links:

Ziff-Davis industry reporter Robin Harris cearly outlines the benefits for ZFS under MacOSX. For more information on MacOSX, ZFS, and it's Illumos source base, see the following.
Network Management Connection:
Network management is all about tying a lot of (remote) data together into a large database for easy investigation. ZFS is the only modern reliable file and volume management system in the open sourced and commercial world at this point. MacOSX may be one of the most simple, secure, and robust user facing UNIX based systems in the world at this point.

The marriage of the two (ZFS and MacOSX) offer tremendous possibilities to tie together robust user end experience (through appliances such as iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad families) with robust back-end processing (virtually virus-proof MacOSX and ZFS.)

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