Developers have received from Apple a "ZFS on Mac OS X Preview 1.1" package, which offers preliminary support for the ZFS file system, originally developed by Sun Microsystems for their Solaris OS.
Currently, the Mac OS is based on the HFS+ file system, but leaked screenshots of earlier versions of Leopard showed options for formatting hard drives for ZFS.
Reportedly, this preview allows full read and write capabilities with the latest developer build of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apples upcoming version of its OS X operating system.
However, developers were told that on its release, which is expected to happen later this month, Leopard will support only read-only uses of ZFS, at least initially. This will mean that Mac OS X users will not be able to take advantage of some ZFS features, such as managing storage pools, which are merged virtual devices that transparently combine hard drives, files and partitions.
Developers have yet to see Apples final plans for ZFS; there is some question as to whether Apple has any long-term plan for the file system at all, from supporting communication with ZFS-based systems to replacing the base file system. And there is currently no information about how to ensure backward compatibility between ZFS-based and existing Mac applications and systems.
ZFS is said to offer a number of potential advantages over various other file systems. One feature, called "disk scrubbing", could pre-empt latent disk errors. ZFS should also provide more efficient input and output, unlimited "snapshots" for quick backups and restores and the ability to read and write to compressed file systems.
Click here to read more about Apples potential plans for the ZFS in Leopard.
In June, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said that Leopard would feature ZFS as "the" file system, and that Apple would announce this at its June Worldwide Developers Conference. However, Apple made no such announcement at the event. Apple CEO Steve Jobs did mention that there were "top secret" features to come in Leopard, but even as the operating systems expected ship date approaches, ZFS does not seem to be a core technology.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.