OpenSUSE Drops ReiserFS; Sign of Things to Come?

While Novell might not be the most popular company in the Linux world today, it’s still a very good way to gauge what’s going on in the Linux community. Their latest OpenSUSE release, OpenSUSE 10.2, has a number of new features – X.Org 7.2rc2, redesigned KDE and GNOME desktops, Firefox 2.0, etc. – as well as one massive change: the deprecation of ReiserFS in favor of ext3 as the default file system.

This change is important for a number of reasons. While Reiser4 has yet to really make inroads into too many distributions, ReiserFS (also known as ReiserFS 3.x) is commonly found in almost every major distribution currently available to the masses. However, a number of issues have arisen that are making several distributions choose other filesystem paths; ReiserFS has been declared a maintenance branch, meaning that there will be no new features added to the 3.x line. With other filesystems are constantly making changes to their code, the code for ReiserFS is, for lack of a better term, stagnating.

So what will this mean for ReiserFS in general? I don’t forsee Novell as being the only company to view ReiserFS as being an outdated idea. Reiser4 hasn’t managed to convince enough people as to its stability and usefulness, so don’t expect to see distributions include it for the next couple of years or so. Ext2/ext3/ext4 seems to be the way to go now; more and more distributions are returning to this tried-and-true filesystem in order to allow for the most stable releases possible. So, unless Resier4 starts to prove itself as a stable, friendly, powerful alternative, I would expect to see ReiserFS/Reiser4 disappear sooner rather than later.

  • Grant Johnson

    I use ReiserFS instead of EXT3 for two reasons.

    Most importantly, in an LVM setup, I can grow a filesystem hot. I can add space and make the file system bigger on the fly without unmounting.

    Secondly, with PostgreSQL, ReiserFS is measurably faster than EXT3.

    I can live without the speed (buy faster hardware), but until other file systems can resize hot, I will probably stick with ReiserFS.

  • mangoo

    “ext3 as the default operating system”? I guess the author wanted to write “default filesystem”.

  • Ewdison Then

    Thanks mangoo :p was mistyped :)

  • Serpentine

    Why would Novell drop ReiserFS? Has anyone not yet heard about Hans’ legal problems?
    Novell drops ReiserFS right after Hans’ arrest. Hmm…
    Novell drops the Hula project right after their deal with Microsoft. Hmm…..

  • Chris Tyler

    Grant: You can grow ext2/ext3 while mounted — use ‘resize2fs’ (in older versions of the utilities, use ‘ext2online’). I wish filesystems could be hot-shrunk; I heard a rumour that reiser4 could do that but haven’t confirmed it.

    Ext3 is actually a series of filesystems — the current ext3 is quite a bit different from the original ext3, for example: it uses some advanced indexing, but it is still forward- and backward-compatible with ext2/ext3, so you can mount a current ext3 filesystem as ext2 using a decade-old kernel and access all the data (though the journal and index structures won’t be updated until you once again mount with a modern version of ext3).

    Because of this, it might be worth re-evaluating ext3 performance for your use case (I had the impression that reiserfs was faster for lots of small files, and ext3 was faster for really large files, but I haven’t benchmarked lately).

  • Pascal Bleser

    openSUSE is *not* deprecating reiserfs3.

    It’s just that the *default* proposal in the installer is ext3 instead of reiser3 (as it was before 10.2).
    reiser3 is still available and fully supported.

    ext3 isn’t on par with reiser3, and there hasn’t been all that much work done on ext4 yet.

    Chris: reiser3 can be “hot shrunk”
    Serpentine: Novell is not dropping reiserfs, the OP got it wrong

    OP: please do your homework first ;)

  • Reiser is better.

    Reiser3 is a more capable, more reliable, faster filesystem that ext3.

    Reiser4 is a much more capable, much more reliable, much faster filesystem that ext4.

    Above are the reasons Novelle will NOT use Reiser3 or Reiser4 as the default filesystem.

  • Reiser is better.

    “the code for ReiserFS is, for lack of a better term, stagnating.”

    So what? It will remain one of the best filesystems available.

    You show incredible bias by using the term “stagnating.” You could just have easily said that it will remain the great filesystem that it presently is.

    Reiser4 will however continue to get better.

  • gatuus

    I dunno if your comment comes can be appreciated as an actual, recent, updated comment.


    You didn’t mention that the creator, mantainer, etc. of ReiserFS is in jail right now. Hans Reiser.

    You didn’t get the facts neither.
    You just can’t say that ext3 is better than ReiserFS because your point of view.

    Do you have comparitions on both filesystems?
    Real numbers, real facts?
    No you don’t.

    So I think that you comment is OUTDATED an is sleeping in the past 2 years.


  • antiriad

    hans reiser is not the current mantainer.

  • Reiser is better.


    Well gatuus, do you have comparisons on both filesystems?
    Well gatuus, do you have real numbers, real facts?
    Well gatuus, you don’t.

    Why don’t you do as you preach and supply some.

  • Reiser is better.

    gatuus said “So I think that you comment is OUTDATED an is sleeping in the past 2 years.”

    Are you trying to tell me that ext3 has finally caught up to Reiser3,… well, it still hasn’t.

    I know ext4 is a desperate attempt to include features from Reiser4, just like ext2 added journaling because it was embarrassed by Reiser3.

    And, I have run some bonnie++ comparisons myself.

    To see how much better Reiser3 was, than ext2, when Reiser3 was introduced, see this article:

    “In general, ReiserFS outperforms ext2 in nearly every area, but really shines when it comes to handling small files,… ReiserFS truly is an excellent filesystem.” Daniel Robbins.

  • Chris Tyler

    Pascal: you say the reiserfs (reiser3) can be “hot shrunk” (reduced in size while mounted). This would be a great capability, but the tools won’t do this: resize_reiserfs as shipped in SuSE 10.1 and FC 6 cannot do this, and I am not aware of any utility that will. The problem is that a block which is in used by a currently-open file may be moved during a shrink, and chasing that through the kernel is a horrendous job.

    To quote from the man page:
    “The resize_reiserfs program allows to grow a reiserfs on-line if there is a free space on block device.”

  • JJMacey


    I’m just posting here because I think that I’ve seen this argument before.


  • Poops McGhee

    So far, my SuSE 10.2 install is more stable on reiserfs than on ext3. I’m using an AMD Turion 64×2.

  • truth machine

    “So far, my SuSE 10.2 install is more stable on reiserfs than on ext3. I’m using an AMD Turion 64×2.”

    You have no idea what’ you’re talking about; using reiserfs vs. ext3 has nothing to do with system stability.

  • knifemonkey

    benchmark, test, and abuse.
    this is the only way that you will find out which filesystem is better. I and many users dont trust the creators or supporting companies to carry out these tests either, they have to be done independantly. So, test every common and concievable read/write process on all filesystems on the same system, test every concievable filesystem task with big files, small files, big partitions, small partitions, split partitions, cross partitions, patched filesystems etc, and then while it is in the middle of something really important, pull the plug out and boot back in, then while it’s booting pull it out again and reboot, do this a set number of times. then when it boots in, run a filesystem check with that filesystems best filesystem checker cleaner program and then when all of that is done, reboot and see how much damage is done. document everything, send 10000w power spikes to the computer, leave nothing to speculation. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY!
    we dont care what novell is doing or whether hans spent time in jail (although naturally we hope that is behind him) the only thing we care about is ultimately, which filesystem is best for given situation, settle it now so that this debate doesnt troll about any longer giving the flamers and side-takers anything more worth bitching about.