I'm running OpenSolaris with ZFS for my main fileserver. I originally went with ZFS because I heard so many awesome things about it:

  • Automatic disk spanning (zpools)
  • Software RAID (RAID-Z)
  • Automatic pool resizing by replacing RAIDZ'd disks
  • Block-level checksumming
  • No practical single-volume limits
  • "Coming Soon" deduplication

After poking at OpenSolaris for a while, it really bugs me. I know Fedora/CentOS and Debian/Ubuntu far better, and I'm used to the Linux way of doing stuff vs the Solaris/BSD version. I want to switch to Linux, but I don't know what to use for my FS.

I'm not willing to use FUSE or a pre-beta kernel to get ZFS. Btrfs has potential feature parity, but it's still not stable even now (months after I first looked into it). What do you recommend as an equivalent of ZFS (desired features noted above) for a Linux box?

  • 7
    This isn't really an answer, but given the capabilities you get with ZFS I would just suck it up and learn Solaris. If you're using it as a fileserver, most of your interaction is going to be with the "zfs" and "zpool" commands and not much else. Also, note that dedupe is already available. And the easy snapshotting/cloning is wonderful. There's absolutely nothing available for Linux right now that approaches the stability AND feature set of ZFS. Give btrfs a few years to mature.
    – larsks
    Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 15:36
  • Are you actually using all of those awesome things? Or will you accept a Linux alternative with fewer features that you aren't using? Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 16:06
  • Actually btrfs is not what I'd consider
    – al.
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 16:24
  • 1
    @kaerastat AFAIK I'm using all the features of ZFS except dedup / encryption. I want a fault-tolerant (read: idiot-resistant) N-terabyte single volume software RAID that I can expand by replacing disks. For a system that size, block-level checksumming / parity / ECC becomes a requirement. If you can recommend an alternative I'll certainly take a look, but ZFS is the first disk / FS combo I've found that addresses all of the above. Not only that, but it goes beyond with COW, L2ARC, dedup and encryption.
    – Maelstrom
    Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 17:16
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    al: Please let us know of a better alternative before saying the alternative we are talking about is not what you would consider. Commented Dec 29, 2010 at 20:18

7 Answers 7


Have you considered NexentaStor or Nexenta core? It's actively developed now that the OpenSolaris project's fate is unknown. Nexenta is also more GNU-like. The Nexenta Community edition is a good appliance-like implementation which leverages ZFS features and provides an excellent GUI. The Nexenta core is a stripped-down variant that's essentially a more usable OpenSolaris.

See: http://nexenta.org/projects/site/wiki/WhyNexenta


There's a native kernel implementation of ZFS available for linux now, being developed by LLNL.

There are packages for ubuntu available in a PPA, which are easily compiled on debian (just add the deb-src repo to apt's sources.list, download, update the debian/changelog, and dh-build-package. then install the zfs-dkms and other packages).

I've been using XFS for over 10 years on linux, and btrfs for about a year. I've been using ZFS for a few days now and am completely sold on it. it's what i've always wanted in a filesystem without even really knowing it...answers pretty much every annoyance i've ever had with disk and filesystem management.

I'll be migrating my current btrfs disks (currently used for bulk storage of files, rsync backups, etc) over to ZFS in the near future. And I'm already planning a future migration of /home and other directories to a zpool.




  • Although watch out if you do a kernel upgrade through apt-get. You'll have to rebuild and install the zfs modules again.
    – hookenz
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 23:08
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    That's handled by DKMS, as long as you have either thee matching linux-headers or linux-source package installed for your linux-image package. Upgrade the kernel, and dkms will compile all installed dkms modules for that kernel. Similarly, if you upgrade or install a dkms module, it will compile that module for all installed kernels.
    – cas
    Commented Sep 12, 2011 at 2:21

You might consider next release of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD http://www.debian.org/ports/kfreebsd-gnu/ when it's out. It is a Debian distribution with the Linux kernel replaced by a FreeBSD one. http://robertmh.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/about-zfs-in-squeeze-2/


As far as I know, btrfs is the only project that will provide ZFS equivalent features. I've been keeping a close eye on it, but I'm not expecting it to be production stable for a couple years considering the time it took for ZFS to get there. I suspect the open source projects based on Open Solaris will be stable sooner. Maybe Oracle will GPL ZFS since that was their reason for starting the btrfs project.

I consider the comment on the "Linux way of doing stuff" interesting because I consider all the Unix-style platforms essentially equivalent. They run the same software and only differ on some minor sysadmin things like where configuration files are stored.

  • Considering Oracle is slow but surely strangling off all open source acquired from Sun; I expect OpenSolaris and new ZFS improvements to be closed source.
    – Chris S
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 0:07
  • I'm not aware of how you can strangle off open source. OpenSolaris doesn't really exist anymore but this has taken over: openindiana.org
    – JOTN
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 18:16
  • The minor differences are what I notice. Even setting up ZFS was harder because I didn't know how Solaris addressed disks, I'm used to /dev/sdaX. It's the same thing I find when I use OSX, all the tools are there, but they're just different enough that they cause problems.
    – Maelstrom
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 21:00
  • Several examples from today (OSX vs Linux - I don't know if these apply to OpenSolaris as well): seq doesn't exist, mktemp doesn't use the same parameter format, date doesn't accept the same modifier strings and find doesn't use a few params. mktemp requires a template on OSX, uses a default on Linux ("mktemp -d" just works). Date doesn't accept --date='1 year ago' format, instead it uses '-v-1y'. Find behavior defaults to -daystart (and complains about using the param) on OSX, requires the parameter on Linux.
    – Maelstrom
    Commented Jan 3, 2011 at 21:16
  • To this date, btrfs has not offered anything even close to an equivalent btw. It is so broken by its very core design, that it is now being deprecated at RedHat and generally dying. Its inherent problems can’t be fixed, without basically creating a new file system anyway.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 17:23

An alternative is to look at the possibility of using FreeBSD over Linux as FreeBSD has supported ZFS since 2007 so is likely to be more mature than the Linux port.

FreeBSD supports most of the usual open source software like Apache, PHP, MySQL etc.

It's hardware support may not be as wide although I've not had issues on that front before.

Take a look: http://wiki.freebsd.org/ZFS

One negative to using the zfsonlinux port is that an ubuntu kernel update (which could happen) would mean recompiling and linking it back into the kernel again.


Nexenta, also related to NexentaStor is fully fledged distro that has been around for a while. It is based on Debian (similar to Ubuntu) but uses an OpenSolaris kernel. This way you get the best of both worlds; kernel level ZFS speed, bundled with all the niceties of linux/GNU.

NexentaStor, which ewhite mentioned before is an appliance version of Nexenta that has a full web GUI configuration and management system behind it. The community edition gives a maximum of 18TB of usable space (regardless of disk capacity). I don't like to be limited :)

  • 1
    I'm probably being anal, but Nexenta is based on Debian, not Ubuntu. It says so in the first sentence on nexenta.org. Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 15:35

I think you should forget the openSolaris. It is stoped for now. And also I think that Solaris development team will be history for future. I suggest to migrate to other platform. ZFS is the best think that SUN (Oracle) release, but I think that for next 5 years we will have no Solaris 11 and development will be brojken.

  • Oracle confirmed a long time ago that Solaris 11 is due out in calendar year 2011. Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 15:34
  • and it was delivered on 11/2011. Solaris development is definitely still active.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 6:49

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