I recently installed OpenIndiana because of an interest in ZFS. I like the feature-list of ZFS, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how to configure it. All of the documentation I have come across so far seems to presuppose an understanding of concepts like pools and file systems. Where can I find introductory-level information that defines these concepts in terms of ZFS?

3 Answers 3


Two things...

The most important document for you to read is the Oracle Solaris ZFS Administration Guide. It provides a comprehensive description of ZFS features and terminology. It also gives excellent examples.

Beyond that, you may want to look at NexentaStor as an option if you're primarily interested in the storage aspects of ZFS. It's a storage-oriented appliance solution centered around ZFS. Other than that, use the OpenIndiana mailing lists.


A customer just asked me for this, so I compiled a short list of links I have found useful over the years. Not necessarily in the best order, and by no means complete, but thought it might make a good addition for anyone hitting this question:

http://www.nex7.com/readme1st (work in progress, can PM me if you have questions)
















Hopefully that helps. The YouTube links especially require a little filtering on your own, but many from those hits are related to ZFS or speak to it, at least on the first page or so of returns.

  • The first link is interesting. You'd be surprised at how many get into a bind because they overlooked architecture issues. But at the same time, that info is hard to find...
    – ewwhite
    Feb 27, 2012 at 22:09
  • Appreciate the comment - that was indeed my purpose with it; not too narrowly focused on just that, but in large part it was written in response to seeing many, many setups where the ultimate problem was in certain misunderstandings or mis-configurations during initial build. I think a key take-away is that even if you have years of traditional storage experience, ZFS will throw you for a loop on a couple of things (like more disks not necessarily equaling more IOPS) if you don't read up on it. Plus it is making "enterprise" storage available to entire groups who just never had it before.
    – Nex7
    Feb 28, 2012 at 0:00
  • Thanks for the "Read Me 1st" writeup, @Nex7. Exactly what I was looking for!
    – Rob Dyson
    May 21, 2013 at 16:48

One more thing you have to be aware of is that ZFS exists in various versions. Due to Oracle's shiny new closed source policy, some features that exist in Solaris 11 did not make it into OpenIndiana. For example, ZFS in Solaris 11 has encryption, whereas OpenIndiana does not implement this (yet). See the zfs upgrade -v and zpool upgrade -v commands to see the ZFS version history and the version you're on. When playing with the zfs and zpool commands on whatever OS and version, it always makes sense to refer to the manpage or zfs help command of the system you're currently on (and not to some possibly outdated guide).

When it comes to the general concepts, though, both "forks" of ZFS are still very similar.

By the way: Here's a more recent version of the Oracle Solaris ZFS Administration Guide (targeting Solaris 11). The one posted by ewwhite seems to be a previous revision.

If deduplication is one of the features you're interested in (as most ZFS beginners are), I'd advise you to read this excellent blog post on ZFS dedup first, before making any premature plans. I've had to learn the hard way that dedup might be great in theory, but doesn't work out for me in practice. Once you've had dedup enabled for a large dataset for a while, it can become very hard to go back to non-dedup land.


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