[Tux3] a few thoughts about REALLY outstanding features

myLC at gmx.net myLC at gmx.net
Thu Dec 18 05:09:47 PST 2008

'lo there, =)

I hope I'm not bumping in here being a disturbance with my
ideas, since I'm not much of a "FS affectionate".

First of all, I know about ZFS, btrfs, XFS and the like.
While there are surely big differences they ALL lack
functionality that I would like to see as a programmer and

To me current filesystems are still based on the old C64
Datasette (call it a streamer). Basically you are able to
append/overwrite data to/from files and that's it.

Let's take a real world example: Video editing.
Suppose you have a 20 GB file (almost normal if the stream
is in HD) and you want to cut it (i.e.: take out bits from
the beginning, the middle and the end).
Currently the way this is being done is by copying the file,
leaving out the unwanted parts and then deleting the
original. This brings up two problems:
1. If you're low on HD space you're screwed.
2. It is DEAD SLOW (especially on a DVB-receiver with 32 MB
   of RAM, a 250 MHz CPU and a slow IDE interface (about 40
   MB/s tops and in this case - with the drive's heads
   jumping forth and back constantly - a lot less).

Is it only me thinking that this is a silly way of handling
such things on a block oriented filesystem (preferably
supporting sparse blocks)? Shouldn't you be able to:
- insert/prepend a chunk of data into a file
- remove a chunk from a file
- move a chunk from one file into another

As there is no such standard yet this would have to be
implemented using (ugly) IOCTL calls (or such) currently, of

All of the above would be very useful when dealing with
large data, such as DVB-recordings (i.e.: video) or virtual
disk files (virtualization). This is also interesting for
large databases. Currently they are implementing "their own"
filesystems on top of other filesystems - which would then
be superfluous.

Not having this kind of functionality seems even sillier
with truly random access "flash drives" slowly invading the
territory. While an operation as mentioned above could take
an hour on a USB stick the very same task could be done in a
few milliseconds with a "more intelligent" approach.

While the variances in performance between different
filesystem (say ZFS, XFS and ext3) usually are around one
digit in factor AT MOST (i.e. factor 2 or 3), being able to
insert/remove from within a file could easily give you a
performance plus of FACTOR 1000 and more (even on a fast
harddrive). This would make a BIG difference and would thus
be a truly outstanding feature easy to advertise (magazines
would talk about it, manufacturers of embedded - video -
devices would think about using it).

Another thing that bugs me is that filesystems do not
distinguish between fast and slow zones on harddrives.
The difference between reading/writing on/to the inner rim
and the outer rim of a harddrive is about factor two. There
should be a way to indicate a preference (priority) on where
the file should land on the harddrive/partition.

I expressed both of these ideas on several discussion forums
about filessystems before (for instance on the btrfs mailing
list) - unfortunately without any luck.

So is your filesystem going to be "just another filesystem"
as well? Would the above be so hard to implement?
Either of these features would make your filesystem truly

Best regards,
                      LC (myLC at gmx.net)

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