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I'm putting together an file server which will have a very limited number of users (less than 5) and offer the following services:

  • GIT Hosting
  • Subversion Hosting
  • NFS

Data reliability is the most important issue; power comes next, and I could care less about speed.

For the data hardware I've chosen a 3WARE 9650SE-4LPML which will be hosting two (2) TLES enabled WD RE4-GP drives running RAID-1.

The decision I'm facing now is what file system should I use? My preference is for something Linux based, and a file system that attempts not only file system integrity but data inegrity as well.

Please comment on which file systems, OS distributions and for that matter hardware chosen that you think may best fit my requirements.

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So, you do care about the speed somewhat, then? – Evan Anderson Aug 4 '10 at 14:57
up vote 0 down vote accepted

If reliability really is your prime concern, I would seriously consider going with a commercial Linux (RedHat, SLES). They're engineered to provide consistent, stable performance over the course of years. You won't get the latest packages the moment they come out, you don't want to do that if reliability is your prime concern. But you will get backported patches into the versions you are running so critical bugs will still be fixed. And if things do break, you have a support contract to fall back on to make things right.

As for file-system, they all perform reliably. The difference is in how they behave when things go wrong. If you're using commercial Linux the latest filesystems (btrfs, ext4) don't exist on those platforms quite yet; SLES has btrfs in an experimental mode, which you don't use if you want reliability. Your choices are, pretty much, ext3, xfs, and reiserfs.

If you don't have 100% (or at least five-9's) confidence in your power environment, or for some reason are not opting for the battery on your RAID card, ext3 is probably your better choice. Due to how it works a sudden power-loss is less likely to cause data-loss than with XFS. But if you do put that battery on your RAID card, XFS journal transactions are less likely to be lost and that edges me towards XFS as your filesystem of choice.

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The server will be connected to an UPS, and I may even opt for the battery on the controller as well. Why the difference in ext3/XFS vis-et-vis battery backup? – Jamie Aug 6 '10 at 17:14
The way XFS journals data, if the server loses power at the wrong spot uncommitted transactions can be lost which can make for inconsistent data. EXT3 does it a bit differently where this isn't a problem. However, XFS is overall a bit more stable (in my opinion anyway). So if hard poweroffs aren't a concern, I like XFS. A battery on the controller can help 'patch' that vulnerability in XFS as well. Go for both! Defense in depth is good. – sysadmin1138 Aug 6 '10 at 17:30

I don't have any personal experience with it, but a lot of good things have been said about ZFS. You might want to consider it too.

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FreeNas seems to support it, but I'm not super comfortable (read experienced with) running git and subversion on BSD. – Jamie Aug 6 '10 at 17:12

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