Thursday, April 30, 2009

Playing with XFS

I've been suffering badly from a hard drive space shortage as of late. My file server has a 250GB SATA drive in it that came with it when I bought the desktop in 2005. I've tried running it with two PATA drives in a LVM pool with most of the SATA, but for some reason becomes unstable. So how I have it configured now is a 15GB partition for /, mainly for my local apt-cacher proxy, and the rest (215GB) as /home/. Unfortunately, I've been running into problems because I'm running it at about 95% full.

ext3 and ext4 do an admerable job keeping disks from getting fragmented, but when you're running file systems that full, there isn't much that can be done to keep it from getting pretty bad. Recently I heard mention that XFS, developed ages ago, actually comes with a defragging tool, so I decided to give it a shot. Backed up all my files onto every other hard drive I have sitting around, reformatted /home/, and loaded everything back on. Ran:
xfs_fsr -v -m /etc/mtab
and after it finished, tried playing a few videos off the hard drive, and you could barely tell that it was reading. Much better than the chatter fest that was ext3.

Granted, this isn't actually any kind of quantitative analysis of ext3 vs XFS, but it does seem to be quite a bit happier. I really need to just break down and buy a 1TB drive. All of my problems would go away...


  1. You just defragmented the drive when you recopied the contents back.

  2. Yes, but being able to run xfs_fsr improved it further. Several files were moved from 800-1000 extents to ~20