Linked by John Finigan on Mon 21st Apr 2008 19:00 UTC
Oracle and SUN When it comes to dealing with storage, Solaris 10 provides admins with more choices than any other operating system. Right out of the box, it offers two filesystems, two volume managers, an iscsi target and initiator, and, naturally, an NFS server. Add a couple of Sun packages and you have volume replication, a cluster filesystem, and a hierarchical storage manager. Trust your data to the still-in-development features found in OpenSolaris, and you can have a fibre channel target and an in-kernel CIFS server, among other things. True, some of these features can be found in any enterprise-ready UNIX OS. But Solaris 10 integrates all of them into one well-tested package. Editor's note: This is the first of our published submissions for the 2008 Article Contest.
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RE[4]: Comment by agrouf
by jwwf on Wed 23rd Apr 2008 02:21 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by agrouf"
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"I too am impatient with the state of Linux storage management.

I don't see many people sharing your impatience in all honesty. The software RAID subsystem within Linux is pretty good, and has been tested exceptionally well over and over again over a number of years. You need to have spent a reasonable amount of money on a pretty decent hardware RAID set up if you really want something better. That extends to ZFS as well, as software RAID by itself can only take you so far.

The only perceived problem is that you don't get volume management, RAID and other storage management features for free in one codebase. If distributions started partitioning by using LVM by default, created userspace tools that had a consistent command line interface, as well as GUI tools that made LVM and software RAID much more visible and usable, then you'd see them more widely used on a wider variety of systems.

...but I find LVM and MD to be clumsy and fragile.

You're going to have to qualify that one, because LVM and MD software RAID were stable and being used before ZFS was even a glint in Bonwick's eye. Indeed, ZFS has yet to be proven in the same way.

Clumsy: See your comments about consistent userland tools. Actually I think LVM is ok, but I am not a fan of MD's userland tools, and I am not convinced that the separation of the two subsystems is optimal. I believe this is for historical reasons, anyway. Regardless, this is a matter of taste.

Fragile: I can crash Ubuntu 6.06 pretty easily like this:

1. LVM snap a volume
2. Mount the snap read only
3. Read the snap, write to the parent, let a couple of hours pass.
4. Unmount the snap.
5. Sleep a little while.
6. Destroy the snap.
7. Panic.

The solution? Sync between each step, 4 to 6. This is not the only weirdness I have seen, but it stands out. Humorously, I was trying to use LVM snapshots in this case to reduce backup-related downtime.

The problem with hardware RAID is that most of them aren't very good, and the ones that are are really expensive. To approximate ZFS features like clones and checksumming, not to mention well integrated snapshots, you really need a NetApp or, less elegantly, block storage from EMC. The price per gig of these is about 10 times that of the dumb storage you would use with a software solution. I find it really ironic to hear that one establishment Linux perspective is "just use expensive, closed, proprietary hardware".

And before anyone says that if you have the needs, you'll have the budget, remember that overpriced storage is a problem with any budget, since it causes more apps to be crammed onto a smaller number of spindles with correspondingly worse performance. Plus, what is good about the little guy being stuck with a mediocre solution?

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