In practically every example of ZFS usage that I've seen online (including several questions here), the zpool is named "tank". Why? Is there some sort of significance to the name or is it just that the original documentation used "tank" so that's what everyone else uses, too? If you have more than one zpool on a system, is it common to have one of them named "tank" or is "tank" only a convention for single-pool systems?


I was confused by this at the beginning as well.

Since the ZFS is referring to 'Storage pools', the author created the nickname 'Tank' as in a 'Tank of water' or a 'Fish tank'. It is a bit of a play on words since the English words 'Pool' and 'Tank' both refer to large containers of water. Some people find it confusing at first.

Here is an old example from the Sun Solaris 11 documentation from 2004:

Create a ZFS storage pool.

The following example illustrates how to create a simple mirrored storage pool named tank and a ZFS file system named tank in one command. Assume that the whole disks /dev/dsk/c1t0d0 and /dev/dsk/c2t0d0 are available for use.

# zpool create tank mirror c1t0d0 c2t0d0

The term is not referring to a 'Tank' like a Battle Tank, or the term 'Tank' in gaming.

If I find time, I can dig up the authoritative source of the person who created that term. I believe the term was coined by Jeff Bonwick, Team Lead for the ZFS team while at Sun.

  • I guess a followup question, and the one I realize I had in the back of my mind when I asked this one, would be, "If I only have one zpool on a system and I don't name it 'tank', will that be likely to confuse the next admin who works on the system?" – asciiphil Dec 19 '13 at 22:02
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    Call it whatever you need to and the next admin will learn. We call ours z. – Stefan Lasiewski Dec 19 '13 at 22:30
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    Just to chime in: We call our pools <subname>-tank. <subname> the part of the hostname that identifies what exactly the server is doing (it's a long story, but my company has this naming standard of <country><locality><subname>). The benefit, IMO, is that if someone gets confused as to which server he/she is operating on, entering a destructive operation will not whack the wrong pool. – pepoluan Dec 27 '13 at 20:11
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    How, then, do you explain zpools named dozer, trinity and morpheus? – Michael Hampton Oct 22 '16 at 5:41

Regarding tank - at the OpenZFS Developer Summit 2015 it was stated that they were fans of the Matrix, and it referred to the character "Tank". If you look through the documentation, right along side "Tank" are pools named "Dozer". Funny how the nerd shines through.

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    Just from a brief glance at the Oracle docs, I saw zpools named tank, dozer, trinity and morpheus, and servers named neo and zee. – Michael Hampton Oct 20 '15 at 20:16
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    Heh, funny....if you start searching for characters, they're all over. Just found Morpheus and Trinity. – Matt Breitbach Oct 20 '15 at 20:20

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