back to article Snow Leopard kisses ZFS bye-bye

Apple's Snow Leopard padded across the Mac World for the first time in public this week, accompanied by its silent twin, Snow Leopard Server - leaving little trace of ZFS. ZFS is Sun's 128-bit Zettabyte File System with advanced data protection and storage virtualisation features. Sun had said Apple would adopt it. The …


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  1. Steve Todd

    Just to point out the obvious

    OS X uses a pluggable file system model (you can add full NTFS support to Leopard for example using this). There's no reason why Apple or a third party can't release it as an add-on for Snow Leopard, no need for another full version before it becomes available.

  2. Marco van de Voort
    Gates Horns

    Size reduction is fat binary?

    Snow Leopard doesn't support PPC anymore, maybe the clipping of "fat" binaries was the major factor in size reduction?

  3. Ian

    ZFS has value outside arrays

    My laptop runs Open Solaris, and ZFS provides some real value. It makes upgrades incredibly safe: you take a clone, upgrade the clone (which only requires the space of the changed files), boot off it, run with it for a while and finally promote the new version to replace the old. By making filesystems cheap, you can put each lump of the system into a separate filesystem to include it in, or exclude it from, the upgrade process (I can boot my laptop on 2008.11 or 2009.06 and see the same home directory: yes, I know this is possible on other filesystems, but requires hard partitioning).

    Plus checksums to guard against failing drives, compression selectable on a per-filesystem basis, snapshots for backup...

  4. Kay Tie

    Time Machine

    "Mac desktops and notebooks don't need it at all"

    If you saw Time Machine's attempt at taking a snapshot of the disk then you wouldn't say that.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I was musing about ZFS only yesterday, as I need to put a 30+TB filesystem box together, and the toolset for LVM is a little tiring.. I was thus musing about Solaris and oddly an XServe as an alternative (as a very long shot).

    Solaris isn't so stunning reliable these days, and Sun is looking dicey anyway, too. I guess it's back to LVMing two or more big raid cabs together for me :(

  6. Steve Foster


    I *hope* that's striped mirrors, not mirrored stripes!

  7. Len
    Thumb Down

    Nonsens, ZFS is very useful for just about anyone

    Considering one of the major benefits of ZFS is the use of checksums to guarantee data integrity I would say ZFS is more useful to the average Joe than, let's say, a battery in a notebook.

    Let's take a very cautious assumption that 95% of ordinary users do not like to lose their data. That would mean that 95% of ordinary users benefits directly from ZFS, whether they have a single 60GB hard drive or a 500TB storage solution is irrelevant.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    ZFS... in the meantime...

    ...if you want to run ZFS on your Mac, then there is this:

    Or if you want to use an external NAS, then you can setup a ZFS NAS using OpenSolaris -- something like this:

  9. Lawrence Farr
    Thumb Up

    Re: Gah

    ZFS Support in FreeBSD is pretty damn good these days (It has been a minefield up until recently, and still is on non-64 bit). I have about 40Tb or so across 3 sites.

  10. Thomas 3

    @marco van de Voort

    I don't think it's just that. I think they've spent however many years adding features, and are now taking a moment to consolidate. Microsoft are doing the exact same thing. The rumoured complete rewrite of fuggly Quicktime should also help; my interpretation of it now being "fully hardware accelerated" is that it'll be one of the first things to use OpenCL and offload large chunks of processing onto the GPU. Probably raw OpenCL code is larger than raw Intel or PowerPC code, but bits like having the multi-resource scheduling (ie, a task scheduler that can manage multiple cores and GPUs) at the OS level probably dramatically cut the amount of self management that goes into other frameworks?

    Apple had been obsessed for years with separating out multimedia stuff so that it can be processed by whatever black art the OS wants so as to be able to utilise Altivec and make up for the otherwise podgy progression of PowerPC processors, I guess now there's a more unified system, a bunch of things will naturally shrink.

    Oh, and then the other 5.5gb is probably saved by not installing all the printer drivers or something.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ZFS stability ?

    I don't know much about ZFS, so all that quote ZFSs stability, perhaps you could explain what happend when the BBC had a reality check (or two) recently....

    (something about the "Uberblock" and superblock getting corrupted accoriding to the presentation).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Free up 6GB of disc space? That's a massive amount - what's the total footprint of the current OsX version?

  13. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    ZFS fail? Nah, just a bit of reality.

    Whilst it would be fun to wind up the Sunshiners by trumpeting this as an epic fail, the truth is it is just practicality. Apple have realised what most users in the Linux community have said for ages - the average desktop just does not need ZFS. Many edge servers do not. I'm not surprised that if Apple were looking to lighten the load then ZFS would have been pretty high up the troublesome-luxuries-to-be-jettisoned list. As for the Apple serves, I'm guessing they're waiting for a less buggy ZFA implementation before they roll it out. That is unless NetApp have been shaking their lawyers at Apple and Steve has backed off ZFS until the Sun courtcase clears.

    In the meantime, respect to Mr Tom Bird for effective use of kitty pics in his presentation! Worth the download for them alone.

  14. Ted van de Weteringe
    Jobs Horns

    The next major release of Mac OS X

    Would be Mac OS Y, obviously.

  15. Darren Bell
    Thumb Up


    I wonder if Oracle will now release ZFS under a Linux friendly license? If not we'll just have to wait for Btrfs.

  16. David Kelly 2

    ZFS doesn't belong in Snow Leopard, yet.

    Apple has repeatedly stated Snow Leopard is an exercise in cleaning house and performance tweaks. Time to do something about bit rot and prepare a foundation for the future. With that as one's goal it would be completely inappropriate to add features such as ZFS.

    Apple is not one to limit products to the needs of the "average" user. I do not doubt MacOS will eventually ship with ZFS from Apple but today its not an urgent requirement. And not a simple requirement if one is to do a proper Apple-quality job of it fully integrating into Time Machine and everything else.

  17. Curtis Crowson

    The obvious thing

    They are behind on the project and are jettisoning anything that will save them significant time that they can do without. Since they already support several file systems, ZFS, although great and I am disappointed that they aren't using it, can be put off until a later date. I think Larry "Oracle" Ellison and Steve "Apple" Jobs are still friends, so they aren't dropping it because of an old feud, now that Oracle has bought Sun.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    so this 6gb of 'saved' disc space...

    Am I right to suspect that all Apple have done here is binned the absurd number of printer drivers that are installed during a "Standard Installation" of OS X?

    that'd save about 4gb straight away...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Apple server ?

    Never mind ZFS...they used Apple and server in the same sentence... I still can not stop laughing..

  20. Herby

    Apple Server!!

    Look, Apple server is better than Windows Server.

    Of course, Linux server (as in LAMP) is much better!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: 6GB disc space

    Another factor that could contribute to the reduced disc space for an installation of Snow Leopard: I suspect that if the user specifies only certain languages during install, support for other languages will be removed from the applications. Currently this is not the case - if you only use MacOS X in English, your applications still contain language support for Dutch, Chinese etc. Note that I'm not talking about language support in the OS or for web pages, but in the actual application bundles themselves.

    You can uninstall unused languages yourself now using a tool like Monolingual, or simply by getting info on an application and removing all the languages you don't need. Applications can decrease in size by 50% or more this way. I suspect that's worth at least 0.5GB on a standard install.

  22. Randalf
    Jobs Horns

    "Mac desktops and notebooks don't need it at all"

    Typical Mactard mentality -- If it isn't in OSX, then we don't need it at all.

  23. joe 14

    Matt Bryant is right on one thing only Vasili

    Netapp has probably scared Apple off.

    As for any ZFS nay Sayers out there, us it, understand it and learn it before you open your mouth! ZFS is the best file system since sliced bread. Period. No its not the fastest so please drop that argument its just the most flexible and easiest file system to manage. Yes you don't have a "Real GUI" so what! The syntax is easy and working with pools has been a dream! Snapshots, exports and moving datasets between servers are soooo easy, it would make you wonder if you did it right.

    Hopefully, ZFS make it in sometime into OS X, us Solaris admins who use it love it and power Mac users will too.

    As for the "Gah" dolt who thinks Solaris isn't reliable these days; We do better than 5 9's with it but what does Linux fanboi like you know about UNIX?

    Nuff said, got to go find some HPUX news to leave trashy comments on. Oh-ya what's ever new with that dinosaur? Sorry Matt couldn't resist..... :)

  24. Paul Johnston
    Thumb Up

    @joe 14

    Right about the "no real gui" but I wonder how long before there is a clone of the Fishworks analytics available, after all its just a pretty front end to system and dtrace stuff.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Btrfs vs ZFS...

    Isn't Btrfs developed by Oracle? Maybe Apple know something that we don't...

  26. mrweekender

    Re: Apple and Server in the same...

    ...dude? Seriously, where the fuck have you been for the last 4 years!

  27. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Re: Apple and Server in the same... & joe 14

    "....Seriously, where the fuck have you been for the last 4 years!" Probably working in a real corporate environment with a real business OS like Windows or Linux. Or hp-ux if he works in a large corporate and has a business critical application. Yup, that "dinosaur" is still king of the high-end. Outside of the Crayon Department (AKA Marketing), Apple has no share in the majority of today's corporates, and no chance in the datacenter.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Matt Bryant

    Poor Matt must have a real inferiority complex - he's always trying to put down Sun and now he's started on Apple.

    Clearly he has absolutely no idea about ZFS and it's features - I suppose he can be forgiven as he's stuck with PHUX. Unfortunately for him, those who have a clue in HP have seen the light and are shipping Solaris on their pieces of lowest-component-bidder kit.

    Will we see a change in his posts? I doubt it. He's too stuck on PHUX.

    Well - have fun being the tiny minority who still actually uses that dinosaur.

  29. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: @Matt Bryant

    "Poor Matt must have a real inferiority complex - he's always trying to put down Sun and now he's started on Apple....." Surely, seeing as I align with the winner (hp) and you align with the loser (Sun), that should be a superiority complex, not an inferiority one? Admittedly, Apple are definately a winner in the consumer market, but in the corporate they are even rarer than Sun storage devices!

    ".....Clearly he has absolutely no idea about ZFS and it's features...." Before you depart on the usual Sunshiner "anyone that disses my Sunshine doesn't understand the beauty of <insert harebrained Sun commercial failure product name here>", you might want to check back and see that I didn't claim ZFS had been dropped out of Snow Leopard due to a tech issue but more likley due to politics or a lack of user interest. Hold on a sec - poor idea, asking a Sunshiner to actually read and comprehend. Like that will ever happen!

    ".....those who have a clue in HP have seen the light and are shipping Solaris on their pieces of lowest-component-bidder kit....." Oh dear, hate to break the news to you (well, actually I'm enjoying reminding you), but hp sales of ProLiants with OpenSlowaris are so low they don't even feature on the latest sales pie-chart! The hp support for Slowaris is just so hp can go plundering in all those SPARC-Slowaris accounts that have been left dangling by the Sunset. In fact, more worrying for you Sunshiners is the continued preference for Sun's own customers to order the Galaxy kit with Linux rather than Slowaris (I'm told the old 5:1 ratio is climbing as even more Sun customers look to ditch anything Slowaris).

    "....Will we see a change in his posts? I doubt it. He's too stuck on PHUX....." As are a lot of customers. See, hp-ux works, as does the kit it runs on, all at a reasonable price, and the company providing it and the support has not crashed and burned like Sun has. The real question is how long you Sunshiners can continue with your prattle now that the whole World can see just what a disaster Sun has become.

    "....Well - have fun being the tiny minority who still actually uses that dinosaur." More bad news for you - Integrity and hp-ux sales are rising, whereas all forms of SPARC are in terminal decline. Best you do switch your aleigance to Apple, at least you can pretend to be a fanboi, brag about iBone sales, and try and forget about the whole Sunset thing.

    Of course, another reason for Leopard not carrying ZFS could be that Apple are looking to replace it with BTRFS.....

    /Enjoying the P&L.

  30. Daniel 2 Silver badge


    "its extended file system, features 32-bit allocation blocks..."

    I read this as '32-bit allocation bollocks' and thought it just about hit the nail on the head.

    I know, I'll leave quietly. White one with fruity coloured lining, ta

  31. Ramazan


    We use HP-UX, lovely HP-UX, wonderful HP-UX!

    Mine with the PA-RISC in't

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @@Matt Bryant

    Really ? Sales up?

    So which is true? Your version of sales up or the company filings and reports of sales falling?

    EDS is the only thing that keeps HP services out the toilet.

    Yes it's true that Sun sales are down - exactly the same thing happened to DEC, Compaq and Tandem when they were bought over. This is a natural reluctance and nervousness in the market. What's HPs excuse for the sales in the toilet?

    And look who developed btrfs - that would be Sun's potential new parent. BTRFS + ZFS from the one company is going to be very worrying for HP in it's decline.

    Slowaris ! Wow - that's hilarious and just shows that you are completely devoid of any clue.

    Time to stop drinking that Turdite Kool-Aid (see ? I can turn names into "jokes" too)

    You should go enjoy the L.

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