[Feature Request] Btrfs/XFS/ZFS/... support

Currently Linode only supports ext3/4 out of the box. While ext is a time-proven rock solid filesystem, some new ones such as Btrfs and XFS provide quite a few features that can be extremely useful in terms of server management.

However right now for a Linode user to take advantage of those features, one can only either use a loop device with the obvious downside of overheads, or choose RAW disks which then are not compatible with Linode Manager or Backups.

And actually it appears to me that a guest filesystem that supports atomic snapshots is the missing piece of the puzzle of a low-to-zero downtime backup and restore solution in the Linode ecosystem. I would be more than happy if I can create snapshots for a running service, send old (incremental) backups to Object Storage, and only in case I somehow manage to screw up the entire system I'd turn it down and restore the whole disk from Linode Backups. This is such a pleasant backup life cycle particularly for applications such as Dovecot that I reckon lots of users will find useful. Not to mention other features such as transparent compression can obviously further complement this mechanism.

Hence I believe supporting these filesystems can add some quite noticeable values to the hosting service and I'd appreciate it if we can have it in Linode's road map.

7 Replies

Thanks for bringing this up. I can certainly see the value in supporting different filesystem types out of the box. With that in mind, I've recorded your request in our internal feature tracker for future considerations.

In the meantime, you can still have a Linode that's running a different filesystem. The following Community post provides the steps you can take to do this:

Using different filesystem types on a Linode

As this points out, if you were to set up a different filesystem, there are some important caveats to consider:

  1. They cannot be resized down, only up.
  2. You will not be able to use our Backup service.
  3. The Manager will not display your real type, it will only ever show the disk type as raw.

This seems especially apropos since Fedora has gone to btrfs by default.

As these more modern file systems become more & more popular, Linode will be forced by the marketplace to support them.

@watrick writes:

As this points out, if you were to set up a different filesystem, there are some important caveats to consider:

  • They cannot be resized down, only up.

This is something Linode will have to address. Note that ZFS can easily do this…but you have to do it before you shrink the volume. To extend a ZFS pool, you need to expand the volume and then tell ZFS to use it (ZFS can auto-expand pools so this can be automatic).

  • You will not be able to use our Backup service.

Both restic & borg can easily do backups to primary/object/block storage. Primary and block storage volumes can easily be part of a RAIDZ storage pool (ZFS again).

  • The Manager will not display your real type, it will only ever show the disk type as raw.

This is another thing that Linode will have to address…but IMHO this is far less important than the first thing. This info is easy to come by so it's just a matter of formatting it for display.

The big upside to supporting these other file systems is that you, the customer, will be able to run other OSs besides Linux (e.g., *BSD). FreeBSD 13 migrates to OpenZFS (which includes support for Linux). Ditto for NetBSD 9.1-current.

Despite Linus Torvald's opposition to ZFS on Linux (ZoL), the market will demand it and he'll be overridden by the corporate supporters of the Linux Foundation which employs him. Linus can whine all he wants about this (BWAAHH! It's NIH! BWAAAAH! I don't get it! BWAAAH! … ditto for Stallman…BWAAAAH! It's not GPL! BWAAAH! It's supported by Google! BWAAAH!) but it's inevitable…

IMHO, it would behoove Linode to support these file systems as it opens up a new markets for them -- out-of-a-box cloud storage servers (on a potentially large scale). Can you imagine replacing that FreeNAS appliance you may have with a cloud version? I can…very easily… Who knows? It may already be in the works…

-- sw

Thanks for the detailed thoughts on this, @stevewi. I've added your thoughts on this to our internal tracker as well as @Omnifarious's.

@watrick --

If you have some double-secret beta program going on about this, I'd be happy to help. You know where I live ;-)

-- sw

+1 for supporting btrfs, as it's now the default for Fedora as of Fedora 34.

@uckelman - We've made a note of your interest!

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