File systems

ArsTechnica published an interesting article about the history of file systems which is a fun and interesting read.

Some interesting anecdotes I can add to this article:

A long time ago I worked in tech support for a company selling PC clones, I think we were delivering DOS 3.x at the time. I came across an interesting feature of FAT-32, which was that while you were limited to 512 files per directory the OS did not complain if you exceeded that limit. It would just extend the table into adjoining sectors and eventually either files would be corrupted if the table got too long, or files would be lost if the end of the table was overwritten by a new file.

More recently I tried JFS as an alternative to EXT3 at Feedster and was bitten by a bug of some sort which caused the file system to stop responding for 5 seconds at periodic intervals. This suspension was accompanied by a spike in CPU usage. Odd stuff, and I did not have time (or the inclination) to look for the cause so we just ditched it in favor of EXT3. We did look at XFS briefly but felt that there was too much risk involved since it would lose metadata is there was a crash or a power failure (we were using Gentoo at the time which did not help.)

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