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According to this Red Hat bug report (which I am trying to reproduce) it looks like the Netapp filer is able to store data directly in the inode, in case of very small files.

Considering I had a FS with large inodes, would it be possible to store data in such a way on a Unix / Linux file system?

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ext4 since kernel 3.8 supports this: it can store (very) small files within the inode, as described in the filesystem layout documentation.

Other filesystems support this on Linux too, or variants of the idea; for example Btrfs stores small files in the parent extent.

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