Mac ZFS is dead – Storage Mojo

PC file system progress took a giant step back this week with the news on MacOSforge that Apple’s ZFS project has been discontinued. Apple announced in June ‘08 that Snow Leopard server would support ZFS. But things came apart early this year.

  • ZFS Project Shutdown 2009-10-23
  • The ZFS project has been discontinued. The mailing list and repository will also be removed shortly.

What happened?

Jeff Bonwick, ZFS architect, posted Saturday on an earlier quoted comment:

> Apple can currently just take the ZFS CDDL code and incorporate it
> (like they did with DTrace), but it may be that they wanted a “private
> license” from Sun (with appropriate technical support and
> indemnification), and the two entities couldn’t come to mutually
> agreeable terms.

I cannot disclose details, but that is the essence of it.


Editor’s notes: The computer evolves and the operating system of your computer needs to evolve with it. One of the parts that hasn’t evolved is the file system. This would only matter if file sizes were getting larger and hard disk sizes were growing.

So two years ago when Apple announced that it was putting in engineering time on a system that Sun had worked on and made open source, there was great interest. That file system is ZFS…or was. This article explains some of the why for its departure.

For the entire article:

Mac ZFS is dead – by Robin Harris on Tuesday, 27 October, 2009


Sun is being sued by NetApp claiming that ZFS infringes on NetApp patents. If NetApp won, Apple would find itself in a tough position unless Sun shouldered the financial damage. That’s indemnification.

IMHO Sun has a good case that NetApp’s patents will be invalidated by prior art. But with all their other problems and the Oracle purchase it was a headache they, Oracle and Apple didn’t need.

Where does Apple go from here?
Apple has hired some smart file system engineers and wants to hire more to work on “state-of-the-art file system technologies for Mac OS X.”

I’m not convinced: it sounds like standard HR boilerplate and a snare for the unwary. But hey! it could happen.

But writing new file systems isn’t easy. It takes 5-7 years for a new file system to achieve the maturity needed to support large-scale deployment. Even replacing QuickTime is non-trivial.


The article continues to tell of different possible futures…

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