[GTALUG] From BTRFS to what?

Anthony de Boer adb at adb.ca
Tue Sep 5 18:33:53 EDT 2017

Alvin Starr via talk wrote:
> On 09/05/2017 09:42 AM, Christopher Browne via talk wrote:
> >  ...
> > They were fairly keen not to respond to *anything* because we had JFS
> > (that they chose to include, but not support).  That seemed really
> > weaselly to me at the time.  It would be one thing had we had a custom
> > compiled kernel with our own wacky stuff, but everything *was* stock;
> > the JFS builds were *provided by Red Hat*.
> >
> > Ever since, I have not been highly enthralled by the merits of "Red
> > Hat support."
> That is kind of weaselly but in line with just about every other 
> enterprise support organization out there.
> First update to the latest software(images of the tape player in the IT 
> Croud).
> Oh your using something we don't support .... Sorry...

Linux supports more different filesystems than any other OS in history,
but for the most part a filesystem's a filesystem; you toss in your
files and have high expectations of finding them again later.

And in the general Linux world you get to pick one, and see how well it
works and whether its developers are on top of any bugs.

However, when you get to Red Hat's paid support model, having to train
support staff on the different tools to make and fix N different
filesystems and the bits of wisdom that pertain to each will drive its
costs up, and they can save a fair bit by pushing RH systems into a very
limited subset of filesystems with solid track records and only having to
support those.

It's also possible they see ZFS-on-Linux as more powerful, or saw some
unexploded Oracle intellectual-property issues under Btrfs and wanted to
quietly back away.

> But I moved from Debian to RH years ago because I was spending all my 
> time patching kernels and rebuilding systems.
> Redhat had quick security fixes and they were easy to install.
> This is something like 15 years ago and the landscape has changed 
> dramatically since then.
> The thing about RH is that its an easy sell corporately.
> You can point to a company that "supports" the OS and check off that box 
> in the "due diligence" form.

And if you're in the "Enterprise" model of wanting to buy an off-the-shelf
system and support and not maintain any in-house clue then RH will
happily take your money and dance that dance with you.

> Debian and Ubuntu don't seem to have the same support offerings but I 
> could be wrong on that point.

Debian at least is a volunteer organization and you can't wave the
corporate Amex at them.  They're generally quite reasonable at issuing
fixes to CVE issues and their stuff Just Works but if you want to be
spoon-fed you have to pick up the spoon in your own hand, as it were.

> > - It enacts "facts" like those that were the point of the original
> > question...  Is BTRFS any good?  Should you use it?  Or is it needful
> > to migrate to something else?   The answers that seem to arrive have
> > the shape "Well, RHAT doesn't want to support it, so everyone should
> > consider it obsolete and unsupportable."

I hope nobody is looking at redoing their root filesystems in any sort of
stampede to a different filesystem.  The choice of filesystem usually
runs for the lifetime of an install, and when Btrfs became ready for
prime-time I used it in a few non-core systems I was setting up, and it's
been happily working.  Certainly I'd not now try to swim upstream by
using it on an RH/CentOS installation, but Debian and Gentoo are still
happy with it.  But the vast majority of Linux systems I've built have
had ext2/3/4.

(Mind you, a few Reiserfs systems a late co-worker set up _did_ get
repaved proactively after one or two shat themselves.  But that's the
only FS that I've seen being actively bad.)

I should add that the most solid thing I've used was ZFS, but that was
on another OS; I haven't had occasion to look hard at ZoL yet.

Anthony de Boer

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