Look Out Enterprise: Mac OS X to Get Journaling

Further buttressing its enterprise push, Apple is about to spring a new surprise for the Unix-based OS: A journaled file system.

Fresh on the heels of its "Jaguar" release of Mac OS X 10.2, Apple Computer Inc. is about to spring a new surprise for the Unix-based OS: A journaled file system designed to provide corporate Mac sites with a new, historical view of their data.

According to sources, the journaling technology, code-named "Elvis," will make its debut in the forthcoming Mac OS X 10.2.2, which Apple is reportedly on track to post as a free update within the next three weeks.

While Mac OS X 10.2.2 also quashes a variety of quotidian bugs, Elvis journaling capabilities are the result of a separate development effort that have been kept carefully under wraps at Apples Cupertino, Calif., campus for at least the past year.

The journaled file system, which will run atop the Macs traditional HFS file scheme, will be switched off by default; users will be able to switch it on via the command line, sources said. They reported that while Elvis runs in the background, enabling the journaled file system will slow current system performance by 10 percent to 15 percent.

The addition of a full-fledged journaled file system scheme signals Apples latest effort to provide enterprise customers with enhanced administration capabilities. In a journaled file system, the file system keeps a log of the hard disks main data activity. In case of a crash or other system failure, the file system can retrieve lost data by consulting the "journal" log, restoring the system to its previous state instead of having to go through the lengthy process of rebuilding it via Unixs file system consistency check (a BSD command that works with HFS file systems) or similar disk-check utilities.

The current version of NTFS, the file system within Windows 2000 and XP, does not handle full-fledged journaling, sources said; change-journal logs note alterations to files but dont provide enough information to reverse them.

Microsoft is expected to step up its journaling file system capabilities by the time it releases the next major version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn (which is expected in 2005). Longhorn will include file system technology that Microsoft is developing as part of its "Yukon" SQL Server database, Microsoft has said.

Sources said Elvis will represent a more extensive implementation of journaling than the current NTFS, on a par with the 64-bit file system in Be Inc.s BeOS. BeOS came in second place to NeXT Software Inc.s OpenStep when Apple, in 1996, was shopping for technology on which to base the OS that became Mac OS X; sources said its journaled file system was among BeOS selling points.

Indeed, Apple apparently enlisted the creator of the Be technology for its Elvis project: Bes BFS journaled file system was written by Dominic Giampaolo, who in March joined Apple as a file system engineer, The Register UK reported.

Mac OS X 10.2.2 will be the second interim upgrade to Apples Unix-based OS since Jaguar shipped for $129 on Aug. 24. Apple reportedly seeded a pre-release build to developers earlier this month, minus the Elvis enhancements. While the company didnt provide a list of changes and bug fixes, testers said the update modified system files dealing with Address Book, Mail, Sherlock, NetInfo Manager, and Terminal utilities. Changes were also made to disc recording, power management, and drivers for ATI and Nvidia graphics processors.

In September, Apple released the 10.2.1 update online, which added peripheral support and squashed other bugs.

A 10.2.3 update is expected to ship in time for Januarys Macworld Expo/San Francisco, the date when Apple CEO Steve Jobs has announced new Mac models will no longer boot into Mac OS 9. The next major upgrade, code-named Panther, is slated to ship in 2003.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

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Mac veteran Matthew Rothenberg is online editor for Ziff Davis Medias Baseline and CIO Insight magazines.
Nick dePlume is the editor in chief of Think Secret.
Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft Watch, contributed to this report.