Journaling file systems for Linux

Tells why and how to go about switching to a journaling file system for large installations with significant storage.

Journaling file systems for Linux
Rick Cook

One thing Linux administrators don't have a lot of is time, and that's why it's important for them to use a journaling file system. This tip describes some of the advantages of such a system. You probably know about similar tips, and we'd like to know about them too. Follow this link to submit a tip and enter our tips contest.


One of the most significant improvements in the 2.4.1 and later kernels of the Linux operating system is the addition of a journaling file system (JFS) to make recovery from file-system problems easier. Most Linux installations with a significant amount of storage should probably plan on switching to a kernel with a JFS immediately because of the advantages.

A journaling file system keeps a snapshot of the files and their location so it can quickly restore files in case of a problem. This has been a standard feature of commercial versions of Unix, such as Solaris, for some time and on a system with a lot of storage it can cut hours off the time it takes to bring a system back up. Linux officially added a journaling file system, ReiserFS, in its 2.4.1 release earlier this year and most of the major Linux distributors now include a JFS with their products.

Of course Linux being Linux, there are several journaling file systems either available or on the horizon. They include Ext2, and systems developed by IBM and Silicon Graphics, which have been put under open source by the companies. The modular structure of Linux makes it fairly straightforward for administrators to replace one JFS with another if they desire.

More information on the ReiserFS and JFSs in general is available at the Namesys web site (www.namesys.com) as well as from Red Hat's web site (www.redhat.com).


Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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Related Book

Linux Book, The, 1/e
Author : David Elboth
Publisher : Prentice Hall
Published : Mar 2001
Summary :
If you're new to Linux, it can be a real challenge to find the right Linux book: they either cover the wrong distribution, or are too technical, or conversely, too superficial. The Linux Book offers the perfect balance: all the information you need to install, configure, maintain, and network a Linux system without having your intelligence insulted or wading through thousands of pages of unnecessary technical gibberish.


This was first published in July 2001

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