Ubuntu 19.10 will now support experimental ZFS root file-system install option

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Last week, Ubuntu announced that the upcoming Ubuntu version 19.10 will support ZFS as a root file system, and should be used as an ‘experimental’ installer. The ZFS support will enable an easy to use interface, provide automated operations and offer high flexibility to Ubuntu users. Initially, Ubuntu 19.10 will be supported on desktop only, however, the layout has been kept extensible for servers, later on. Ubuntu has also warned users not to use ZFS on production systems yet; users can use it for experimental purposes and provide feedback.

Ubuntu develops a new user space daemon – ‘zsys’

In order to make the basic and advanced concepts of ZFS easily accessible and transparent to users, Ubuntu is developing a new user space daemon, called zsys, which is a ZFS system tool. It will allow multiple ZFS systems to run in parallel on the same machine, and have other advantages like automated snapshots, separating user data from system and persistent data to manage complex zfs dataset layouts.

Ubuntu is designing the system in such a way that people with little knowledge of ZFS will also be able to use it flexibly. Zsys’s cooperation with GRUB and ZFS on Linux initramfs will yield advanced features which will be made official by Ubuntu, later on.

Users can check out the current progress and what’s next with zsys on the Ubuntu projects Github page.

Progress update of Ubuntu 19.10

  • ZFS has already been shipped on Linux version 0.8.1. It supports features like native encryption, trimming support, checkpoints, raw encrypted zfs transmissions, project accounting and quota and many performance enhancements.
  • Some post-release upstream fixes has been backported, to provide a better user experience and increase reliability.
  • A new support has been added in the GNU GRUB menu.

All existing ZFS on root user can enjoy these benefits, as soon as version Ubuntu 19.10 is updated.

The post states that “We still have a lot to tackle and 19.10 will be only the beginning of the journey. However, the path forward is exciting and we hope to be able to bring something fresh and unique to ZFS users.”

Users are very happy with Ubuntu 19.10 supporting ZFS.

A user on Hacker News comments, “Having been a ZFS fan since the twilight of OpenSolaris, I’m very glad to see ZoL taking off. Rolling it into Ubuntu and making it officially supported was a great move – after some frustration with trying to run ZFS on a CentOS box and having it occasionally break after a kernel update, having it easily available on Ubuntu was like a breath of fresh air. Having it readily available as a root filesystem, and having TRIM support at long last, is great news.”

While few users are not happy with Ubuntu 19.10 supporting ZFS due to its high maintenance.

A Redditor says, “I’m a big fan of Ubuntu, use it on one of my own machines and recommend it to people. But almost every time they have decided to go it alone and make something a unique selling point it has backfired (Upstart, Mir, Unity, bzr, CouchDB, Ubuntu one).

No other mainstream distro is going to adopt ZFS. Probably ubuntu will drop it in a few years when they realize they can’t carry the maintenance burden. If you use ZFS for your file system then you won’t be able to use standard recovery tools or access it from a dual boot. You won’t be able to revert back to and older ubuntu version. You won’t be able to install upstream kernels.”

For more details, head over to the Ubuntu blog.

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