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Top Forums UNIX for Beginners Questions & Answers Should I use a CoW filesystem on my PC if I only wanted snapshot capabilities ? Post 303044657 by stomp on Saturday 29th of February 2020 01:48:10 AM
Old 02-29-2020

some personal experiences and experiences from others:
  • zfs
    I'm very fond of the ease of use of zfs administration. Few simple commands which all did what I expected them to do. Compression is recommended. Data Checksumming is also a great feature. Deduplication is not as clearly recommended. It needs lots of resources(RAM). It's not that flexible as LVM or btrfs, but in a Desktop-Environment, this should not be a problem. No Problems in several years of usage. Some reading about zfs is recommended for basic configuration (ashift, blocksize values.) getting root fs to zfs is manual work. But for a data partition it's very easy to use. If I need more flexibility, I will use lvm.
  • btrfs
    The times when btrfs had grave bugs are long gone. If you use it, make sure you do not use features that are marked as experimental. (For example the btrfs internal raid5 implementation. Use linux software raid with btrfs, if you want raid). I read some entries in another forum from someone who uses it at scale at will never change it for any other filesystem(he had experieance with all major filesystems) . It also has checksums and snapshot capabilities. The flexibility far exceeds zfs and lvm.

    I checked it out and decided not to use it, for these reasons:
    1. Some things are more complicated. You have to work your way through the documentation quite carefully. For example. You can not trust the values of du and df. The complexity of the filesystems circumvents that this is always correct and consistent. btrfs introduces own tools in addition to the tools everybody is used to.
    2. Things do not work the way I like them to: If I have some raid and a disk is failing, I would expect the system to come up and maybe complain about that it is in degraded mode or just have some file, which would be my part to check. And if the disk is replaced, I expect an easy command or even automatic restoration of the failed disk. That seems not to be the case with btrfs. If you then use your file system in degraded mode, bad things can happen and your raid will do things like writing data only to one disk despite the fact that the device may be set up as a mirror. Those data may be kept non-replicated even if you replace and reintegrate a new disk afterwards. That of course may lead to data loss. That's not an error of the filesystem, but the ordinary procedure. One has to know correctly how btrfs is to be operated according to the documentation or you'll get into serious trouble.
    I'd say btrfs is an advanced filesystem, which get's you a lot in terms of flexibility, performance, robustness, features and data security. It comes with the cost of taking your time and really get to learn the details, which can become really important.

On the other hand filesystem snapshotting ist not what you get with windows system restore points. I think that is a lot of voodoo going on there with windows system restore points(meaning it is complex under the hood). I did not ever test if filesystem-snapshots really get you a working system if you roll them back. Maybe it just works. But if you have a database, there's no guarantee, that the data will be consistent with such a snapshot.

I worked on my personal workstation within a VM too. Snapshots were possible. But the user experience was a mess. Regular Problems with the virtualization environment(virtualbox) and speed too drove me away from that and back to bare metal. For testing things virtual machines are great. Snapshotting ist great there. But not for the main workstation(for me).

Personally OS state snapshotting it's a feature, that I liked to have on windows(system restore points), but I never missed on linux, even if it would be nice to have it. I broke linux at the beginning a lot.(Because I liked experimenting). But since I'm working on a linux machine, I know what better not to do and I never had the need to reinstall the system due to a broken os.

Recommendation for the lazy: If you want to experiment: Use a virtual machine. For your workstation: Use a proper backup strategy and get to know how to validate and restore it. Backup is important!

And in opposition to windows, if it would really be necessary, it's a piece of cake to take any computer install linux on it and get your backup onto it and have every setting restored. You just do not have to endlessly reboot and klick and update.

Last edited by stomp; 03-02-2020 at 11:33 AM..
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