ZFS – neat system, still can’t boot into it?

About 3 weeks ago, I was going to setup a Solaris box we acquired for a particular task in the office. I chose this box and Solaris since I had read great things about ZFS. In the past I would play the role of ‘early adopter’ and try things out when they became available. Unless I absolutely need a particular technology, I now take the ‘late adopter’ role when we’re talking about Operating Systems. Too many companies release tech that isn’t stable.

At any rate, I remember the original ZFS release into Solaris. It was announced, and then it was held back because it wasn’t ready. No problem, I can wait. I thought that by now, after all the hype, things would be perfect. We would finally have a decent raid and filesystem from Sun without worrying about the capabilities of DiskSuite or shelling out $$ for Veritas. It took Sun a big kick in the head to figure out that, now, 10 years later, they needed to innovate.

So I go through the hassle of downloading Solaris (more on that later). I start the install. Things are going smoothly. I get to the partitioning step, I’m ready to see the magic. I have two hot-swappable 18 gig drives in this machine. I want to setup a mirroring system.

Fzzz. Show stopper. No ZFS. Where is the ZFS? I downloaded the latest Solaris… what is up?

Ah – after hitting Wikipedia’s Article on ZFS, I notice in the limitations:

ZFS is currently not available as a root filesystem on Solaris 10, since there is no ZFS boot support.

No boot support!

I stopped the project right there. The whole reason I wanted to use Solaris was to be able to have a reliable, high-uptime system… and that means RAID. No boot into UFS and then mount ZFS.. I want a real RAID

Oh well, I’ll try again next year.

I sure hope Apple users will be able to boot ZFS when they get it in Leopard.

Update Some people have asked? Why not download OpenSolaris which just added this? Ah, yeah – see ‘late adopter’ above. Then read this “Where do I download OpenSolaris”?

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6 Responses to ZFS – neat system, still can’t boot into it?

  1. brad walker says:

    zfs boot support is available in recent nevada builds of opensolaris: http://milek.blogspot.com/2007/03/latest-zfs-add-ons.html

  2. Jake McArthur says:

    ZFS is going to be available in the next version of Mac OS X, and rumor has it that it will be the default filesystem, implying that it is going to be bootable.

  3. dru says:

    Until Leopard ships, we don’t really know that. I suspect that the BIOS would have to be adjusted to accomodate that.

  4. Nick says:

    It’s highly unlikely that ZFS will be bootable in Mac OS X 10.5, let alone the default system. It would require changes to both OpenFirmware (on PowerPC Macs) and EFI (on Intel Macs) and 10.5 is late as it is. I guess we’ll find out in a couple of days.

  5. Sic says:

    We’re booting off of UFS with ZFS root, but our UFS is mirrored. Here’s some output of some system commands, with irrelevant parts removed:

    $ zfs list NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT axmstr 154M 433G 154M /mnt/axmstr intdisk 991M 110G 1.50K legacy intdisk/root 991M 110G 991M legacy

    $ mount / on intdisk/root /ufsroot on /dev/md/dsk/d30

    It sucks that we can’t setup the system this way entirely via jumpstart, but I have a simple “setupzfs” mass script that I use before installing packages. So, /ufsroot is extremely minimal, with no installed packages etc, and the setup is entirely automated.

    $ df -h Filesystem size used avail capacity Mounted on intdisk/root 111G 991M 110G 1% / /dev/md/dsk/d30 567M 298M 213M 59% /ufsroot

  6. dru says:

    hey sic,

    that is exactly what I’m trying to avoid in my old age.

    the main point of the article was this: when you release a great technology like ZFS… please take care of the details.

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