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24 October 2009, 14:29

Apple closes its open source ZFS project

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Apple has closed down its project to develop ZFS for Mac OS X. An announcement on the project's site simply says "The ZFS project has been discontinued. The mailing list and repository will also be removed shortly". Sun's ZFS filesystem was believed by some to be a contender for Apple's next filesystem and the appearance of some support for the filesystem in Mac OS X 10.5 Server seemed to confirm that. The arrival of Snow Leopard, which lacked any ZFS support, contradicted that belief.

There are a number of possible reasons for Apple's ending of the project. One reason could be patent issues; ZFS is at the centre of a lawsuit brought by NetApp against Sun. Other reasons suggested include problems with Sun's licensing of ZFS or Sun's planned acquisition by Oracle which could affect Apple's work with ZFS as Oracle also has a major stake in btrfs. There were also questions regarding ZFS's appropriateness for Apple's typical consumers; ZFS is built to manage and pool large numbers of disks, but Apple's typical customer has a system with one hard disk or SSD drive which would not be able to make much use of ZFS's features.

Reports say that the reason was legal, rather than any engineering issue and note that Apple are actively hiring file system developers to work on the "design, implementation and support of future filesystem technologies".


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