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What purpose is each suitable for?

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Two things: - It's JFS. - Do you just want a comparison of arbitrary filesystems? Or is your choice limited to these three? I'm asking because if you're thinking about ext3, you should really think about ext4. Most people also throw XFS in the mix when they consider JFS. AFAIK, ResierFS has an uncertain future. –  kbyrd Aug 10 '10 at 22:23
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Assuming Linux, you might also want to look at btrfs which is gaining traction lately, and is now an (unsupported) option on openSUSE. –  tsvallender Aug 12 '10 at 9:15
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and ZFS please. Since everybody's crazy about it. –  zvolkov Aug 12 '10 at 13:02
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There is no reason to take ZFS into account when talking about ext4 in the same thing, since that implies Linux and Linux will not have ZFS as a first-class filesystem any time soon. Thank you, Sun. Thank, you Oracle. –  wzzrd Aug 18 '10 at 16:09
    
Also take a look at new Btrfs, it's considered as future replacement for ext4 by many developers. –  Poma May 29 '13 at 11:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I'll just name a few pro and con points for each. This is by no means an exhausting list, just an indication. If there are some big omissions that need to be in this list, leave a comment and I'll add them, so we get a nice, big list in one place.

ext4

Pro:

  • supported by all distro's, commercial and not, and based on ext3, so it's widely tested, stable and proven
  • all kinds for nice features (like extents, subsecond timestamps) which ext3 does not have.

Con:

XFS

Pro:

  • support for massive filesystems (up to 8 exabytes (yes, 'exa') on 64-bit systems)
  • online defrag
  • supported on upcoming RHEL6 as the 'large filesystem' option
  • proven track record: xfs has been around for ages

Con:

  • wikipedia mentions slow metadata operations, but I wouldn't know about that
  • potential dataloss on power cut, UPS is recommended, not really suitable for home systems

JFS

Pro:

  • said to be fast (I have little experience with JFS)
  • originated in AIX: proven technology

Con:

  • used and supported by virtually no-one, except IBM (correct me if I'm wrong; I have never seen or heard about JFS used in production, though it obviously must be, somewhere)

ReiserFS

Pro:

  • fast with small files
  • very space efficient
  • stable and mature

Con:

  • not very active project anymore, next generation reiser 4 has succeeded it
  • no online defragmenter

Reiser 4

Pro:

  • very fast with small files
  • atomic transactions
  • very space efficient
  • metadata namespaces
  • plugin architecture, (crypto, compression, dedup and meta data plugins possible)

Con:

  • Reiser4 has a very uncertain future and has not been merged yet
  • main supporting distro (SuSE) dropped it years ago
  • Hans Reiser's 'legal issues' are not really helping

I recommend this page for further reading.

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I've never used XFS but I've heard many reports of dataloss due to power failures and that a UPS is extremely recommended if you are going to use XFS. –  Arrowmaster Mar 19 '11 at 18:38
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@Arrowmaster I can confirm this from personal experience –  OneOfOne May 8 '11 at 1:23
    
I have been using XFS as my primary data partition form on both a desktop and laptop for the past year without issue. No UPS, and I have had enough kernel panics to have not shut it down safely quite a few times. Note: I do use ext4 for the root file system though. –  Ali Lown Jun 8 '11 at 16:53
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XFS is also the only fs where, without a massive hardware failure, I've had data loss. I have no idea how they broke it so badly, since in IRIX it always works perfectly. –  XTL Mar 7 '12 at 8:31
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ReiserFS is long dead now (got abandoned halfway through for Reiser 4; still had sereve bugs without solution when finally deprecated), Reiser 4 newer saw the light of day (was supposed to handle features that were pointed out time and again are impossible to implement sanely, like multiple links to directories). –  vonbrand Mar 15 '13 at 16:35

Nice words about advantages and disadvantages.

My first and last experience with EXT4 on debian linux squeeze (older version 6.0.0 x64) was with 2x500GB harddrives without RAID.

Until now I don't absolutely know what happened, but after few days I realised, that I am out of space. 0 bytes free. A lot of free nodes. du -sh for whole partition wrotes me only 250GB of space is taken. Where has gone remaining 250GB? I don't remember, how did I solve this problem, but since that situation I decided to go back to EXT3. With EXT3 i never had same problem. I think there was problem in version of squeeze, i was working with. Newer versions should be already OK. If you want it for ordinary PC, just use EXT4. In my case for server I'm happy with EXT3. If you are security manager of your IT company - use ReiserFS or Reiser4.

ReiserFS I can recommend to everybody, who wants really massive security and data encryption. But if some happens, and you forget password, you will probably have more than huge problems. ReiserFS is only one opensource file system, which does US army use, because of security and encryption.

So in my case, i USE EXT3 and I don't care if EXT4 is about few % faster or not. I need stable file system without problems and hope you will understand my bad experiences with EXT4.

However I wish you happy and easy work with using any of these FS.

edit: Guys, based on this test - EXT4 is faster than ext3 in most cases: http://www.abclinuxu.cz/blog/rb/2010/9/maly-domaci-test-filesystemu-ext3-ext4-xfs-jfs-reiser4-btrfs

Performance graph is down there too. It could be useful information for you.

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Never seen anything like that. –  vonbrand Mar 15 '13 at 16:37

ReiserFS and Reiser4 are dead. Look at BtrFS and ZFS for new functionality.

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