Linux: Btrfs file system to become the default in Fedora 33

The Fedora team has announced that it will make Btrfs the default desktop filesystem in version 33 of the Linux distribution Fedora. It will appear in October.

 Linux: Btrfs file system to be default in Fedora 33

The Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) voted in the middle of last month to make Btrfs the default file system for desktops in the forthcoming Fedora version 33. Now the developers have reaffirmed their decision in the English-language Fedora Magazine: Btrfs will replace Ext4 as the default file system in Fedora 33.

For observers, the developers’ decision was very clear – namely with 8 to 1 votes for Btrfs – quite surprising. Because Fedora is not only a popular desktop distribution, but also the basis for Red Hat’s enterprise distribution Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The Red Hat team, on the other hand, which is also Fedora’s main sponsor, has shown little enthusiasm for Btrfs in the past. After the file system in RHEL 6 as “Technology Preview” was delivered, that was already the end of it in version 8: Btrfs was removed from the distribution. Current RHEL versions no longer provide any support for Btrfs.

A decision that is in clear contradiction to the other major distributors: Ubuntu brings Btrfs support with and on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and openSUSE it even the default file system. SUSE’s rollback functions are based on Btrfs.

In 2007 IBM employee Ohad Rodeh presented the concept for Btrfs, which should replace the outdated Ext4 file system under Linux, at the USENIX conference. The developers copied many Btrfs functions from other file systems. The integrated volume manager, including the ability to create sub-volumes, looks familiar to passionate ZFS users, for example. The same applies to Btrfs’ built-in snapshot function, which is also known from other filesystems.

While Btrfs compares to Ext4, XFS & Co. can certainly score with performance advantages, but in the past there was regularly a lack of reliability: bugs in the code, functions that were not fully implemented and a lack of tools for file system analysis and repair prevented many admins and users from enjoying Btrfs. It was not uncommon for early adopters of Btrfs to back up because the file system had processed their data into a mess.

The “Withdrawal of love” attributable to Red Hat. However, Fedora is now aggressively countering old prejudices with the decision to make Btrfs the standard file system on desktops. The recent Fedora Magazine feature entitled “Btrfs Coming to Fedora 33” emphasizes the advantages of a mature, stable and well-functioning file system.

For Fedora users, there should be no problems with the migration: anyone who is still using a system without Btrfs can continue to do so. New systems use Btrfs out of the box unless the admin chooses a different file system during installation. It remains to be seen how the Red Hat team will deal with the Fedora decision in the future and how this will affect RHEL – but it is true that Btrfs will be completely ignored in the enterprise distribution in the long term, while it is the standard file system in its technical basis unlikely.

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