A Clear Perspective on Filesystems

Filesystems have really intrigued me; journaling filesystems in particular. Some time ago the industry criticized Linux because it lacked one, the community responded with an overkill of 4 filesystems: Ext3, ReiserFS, XFS and JFS. When searching the Internet for information about these filesystems, you will find websites explaining how wonderful each of these is. There are also many Bonnie++ benchmarks to be found. Yet these are all theoretical, and their aim is to judge overall performance. Concrete benchmarks are yet to be found…

Many computer enthusiasts will want to run Linux for an FTP server on an old abandoned Classic Pentium system. As did I. Therefore I installed Mandrake GNU/Linux 9.0 on a system with the following specifications:

  • Tulip VisionLine de5/200
  • Intel Pentium 200 (non-MMX)
  • 128MB EDO-RAM
  • Davicom 9102A based 100mbit NIC
  • 3.2GB Western Digital 5400rpm HD
  • 8.4GB Seagate 5400rpm HD

I chose to install Mandrake simply because it supports an extensive range of filesystems in its default kernel. This way I wouldn’t have to bother recompiling my kernel. I installed ProFTPD to function as server, as it should be pretty fast and easy to configure, while remaining reasonably secure. On the client side I took a Windows machine* with LeechFTP installed.

The Western Digital drive was used as root, while the Seagate drive was mounted on /var/ftp with a different filesystem each time. My test consisted of rebooting, uploading a file, rebooting once more and then downloading that very same file. To neutralize buffering I took a large file of about 300MB in size. The reason why, is because my server will only be transfering large files, i.e. game updates for LAN-parties.

Ext3
FTP Upload: average 2.5 MB/s (fluctuates between 2.1-3.1 MB/s)
FTP Download: 4.6 MB/s (practically no fluctuation)

ReiserFS
FTP Upload: average 2.7 MB/s (fluctuaties between 2.5-2.8 MB/s)
FTP Download: 4.7 MB/s (practically no fluctuation)

XFS
FTP Upload: average 3.0 MB/s (fluctuates between 2.5-3.5 MB/s)
FTP Download: 4.5 MB/s (practically no fluctuation)

As you might have noticed the differences for downloads are quite small. But ReiserFS would be best suited for my own ends, because my server only has anonymous access without an upload area. All uploads are done through a ftpadmin account which only I have access to, and I only use when I have enough time anyway…

* The Windows client machine could easily take a full 100mbit load if necessary, so the benchmarks were not dependent on the Windows machine.

Pascal de Bruijn lives in Sittard (The Netherlands) and has been toying around with Linux (various distros
Slack,MDK,RH,Debian,Gentoo), for about a half a year now, just as a hobby.

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