ReiserFS may Lose Support in Linux Kernel

The Linux kernel has existed for more than 30 years. Over time, several technologies considered innovative, become obsolete giving way to something more modern.

Although it is possible to maintain certain living technologies for a few years in favor of retro-compatibility. This “survival” can disrupt innovation and creation of tools more suitable for the reality in which we live; and the Linux kernel team knows this well.

Recently, a dialog circulated in the official mailing list, where the Linux kernel maintainers want to remove the ReiserFS file system support. The reason is that, beside it being obsolete, the file system does not attribute for much interest from the community, against existing options such as Btrfs and XFS.

About ReiserFS

Created by Hans Reiser and initially held by the company, NameSys; ReiserFS was released in 2001 as the first file system with journaling support. It was included in the Linux kernel at the time of version 2.4.

For this season, it was quite innovative and used a balanced file structure. Also it made the search process in the most efficient file system than the existing options at the time.

It was still able to recover the consistency of the file system even after an incorrect shutdown of the system; reducing the chances of loss of folders or partitions.

The fall of ReiserFS

Well, as said above; the ReiserFS file system had several features to be the preferred file system of several companies and personal computers. But why did it fall from use?

At the height of its development, several projects such as SUSE used this file system. However, due to the condemnation of Hans Reiser after the murder of his wife in 2006; further development of the file system froze.

Several companies that used this file system have already mitigated to other systems. Over time, more modern file systems such as Ext4 and Btrfs have reached the community.

Removing the file system gradually

Mattew Willcox, one of the long-time Linux kernel developers, started a discussion on removing ReiserFS from the next versions of the kernel. He is working on making some changes in the kernel structure; but ReiserFS is the only blockade on his way.

He also noted that the project hasn’t been updated in a while; other than some corrections in Syzbot and modifications in the file structure code; with its last bug fix being dated in 2019.

If other developers accept the ReiserFS removal, its support will be available in the Linux kernel until 2025. Even more, who knows, this Dave Chimmer suggestion could incentivise devs to remove other file systems that have fallen into disuse.

André Silva
André Silva is the HyperbolaBSD Software Designer and Co-Founder Leader of Hyperbola Project, a distribution endorsed by the Free Software Foundation. More of 10 years of experience in system administration, shell scripting, software packaging and tech-writer with personal projects based on libre software.