Which File System

I am rebuilding my Linux PC because I am annoyed with having to update xubuntu to a newer version. I plan to give Manjaro a try since it has rolling updates.

My current system has one 500GB sdc using ext4 (root) and four 1T mech drives running in a software RAID 10 (home). I want to dump the RAID 10 so I am thinking.

one 500GB SDC using ext4 (root)
four 1T mech drives using zfs (home)

Does this sound like a good plan? I am a complete noobie when it comes to zfs. Would this be as fast and secure as RAID 10?

Also, I think I have another 500GB sdc is there an easy way to make root redundant, something like RAID 1 but not RAID?

Although your install will be more complex (you will need to worry about a boot partition and manage swap - I don’t have swap, but there are guides around), how about ZFS all the way? I personally think it is much easier to manage (after the more complex install). “zpool” manages sets of disks and “zfs” manages datasets. I even use ZFS on single disks (for consistency of management). You can create a pool to replicate your RAID10. You can also use raidz-2 across the 4 disks that will keep your data if any 2 disks are lost (may be better or not depending on your needs). Use the extra 500Gb drive as a mirror of your boot.

As a noobie, why not use the spare 500Gb to play and see if you like it. You won’t be able to create complex pools, but it will let you try out the commands and the philosophy.

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I did leave out boot and swap to streamline the post.

Just to recap, I would setup root (2 500gb SDC) as zfs (zpool) and home (4 1T drives) as zfs (zpool).

Can zpool be partitioned for boot, root and swap? Or partition the drive with boot, root and swap and then zpool root with the other 500GB drive?

Is there a good zfs guide that would help me to understand what I am doing?

If you’re looking around for a different distro and want a new file system you could give Fedora a try: it has the added benefit that it’s constantly updating release (too many updates for my liking!).

Fedora is btrfs by default, although you can use whatever Linux supported filesystem you desire.

I’m sort of settling on Fedora even though my preference is for Debian, but it’s a bit too far behind the curve on releasing toolchains for my liking, sad to say.

I did try Manjaro too and although it was a very slick distro, I didn’t want to stray too far from the package managers I was familiar with (apt and dnf, e.g.) Another issue has arisen since which is that Manjaro has had well-publicized internal management issues, with its CFO (IIRC) who left the company, and also they keep dropping the ball on renewing certificates leaving users open to potentially being comprised.

Fedora seems to have a lot of development weight behind it and I think it’s a good alternative.

Good luck with your decision.

oh yeah, Fedora/BTRFS doesn’t support swap files because it apparently moves files around under the covers. I recently fell afoul of this when I tried to increase the amount of swap space from the 8GB the installation gave me by default. I tried doing what I’d previously done on Debian to no avail. But there was a relatively easy way around it - I just had to increase a setting in a configuration file and now I have as much swap space as I have RAM which TBH is more than I was trying for. (It’s probably easy to tune it but it’s working and I’m not hurting for disk space right now.)

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There are other distros listed as well (all fairly similar from what I have seen).

As for ZFS itself, I can’t remember what made it “click” for me, but look upo the commands zpool and zfs then hunt for some examples (or just try it out…)

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Fedora is not a rolling release which I would find annoying like xUbuntu.

Thank you, this is a useful link.

I am checking if the Manjaro installer supports loading to a ZFS partition.

The installers don’t tend to (ubuntu excepted), but going command line would help you understand what is going on. I have created shell scripts to automate fedora and NixOS - there are several on the web…some of which work better than others.

I started out using the script to log what I had done, so creating a recipe for the approach that worked.

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… Sorry, I just gotta chime in here. What’s even the point when you can get a 4TB SSD for $200 these days?

And SSDs are usually good at telling whenever you have a drive failure, so spending $500 on a mirrored SSD setup sounds like a much better investment than a 4TB ZFS pool.

Even if you don’t want SSDs, mirror two 8TB mechs for $240 and be done with it already. No use clinging to those old clunkers. A single 4 TB SSD will have less chance of dying than a 4 drive raid, in any case. Just make sure you have a sane backup strategy!

Pretty sure you have a good reason for why you run four 1TB drives, but they are too small today for anything other than lab rigs.


Btrfs for root. Snapshots and backups are snappy and simple. If you aren’t using softraid volumes, the advantages of ZFS start to vanish. Better snapshots, more flexible mounting and subvolumes, better integration, and more secondary software support for btrfs, and zfs’ only real advantages at that point are just how old and understood it is, and that it doesn’t have the same softraid problems btrfs has.
I have no idea why anyone uses EXT4 on anything bigger than 128gb anymore.

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I have the drives with low hours on them however that isn’t a bad idea.

Yeah, sorry if my last message came off harsh, it’s just like… Sticking to antiquated tech just for the sake of not wasting anything is like sticking to that old T-shirt that has five holes and a large unwashable spagetthi bolognesa stain on it, I get that you loved that T-shirt but come on, spend $5 on a new one already! :stuck_out_tongue: There comes a point when old tech just needs to be retired.

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No problems!

Spending $200 on computer parts when I could spend them on motorcycle parts or touring on the motorcycle is not a hard choice for me. I could run the whole rig on one 500GB SDC, no need for the drives other than photo storage. Backups are on a 4T USB drive. I suppose I should push it all up into the cloud.