Will Mac OS X 10.7 Lion use ZFS?
There have long been rumors and predictions that the new version of Mac OS X will use the ZFS file system, but with each new OS release the idea falls flat. So here we are again with a new Mac OS on the horizon, the inevitable question returns: will ZFS come to Mac OS X 10.7?
No one outside of Apple knows for sure yet, but LifeOfAGizmo.com points to the ‘Auto-Save’ feature of Mac OS X Lion as proof that ZFS is indeed coming:
As for the proof it’s simple, really. Unless Apple is developing their own filesystem, ZFS has the main features that allow you to get rid of file saving: snapshots and clones.
I’m hesitant to jump on the ZFS bandwagon, here’s why: iOS. iOS already has auto-saving, and it’s not using a ZFS file system, it’s using HFS+. Considering the whole point of the “Back to the Mac” event was to bring iOS features back to its parent Mac OS X, I would imagine the auto-saving capabilities are at an OS level.
But let’s investigate the “snapshots and clones” feature of ZFS anyway, which is explained as follows by Wikipedia:
An advantage of copy-on-write is that when ZFS writes new data, the blocks containing the old data can be retained, allowing a snapshot version of the file system to be maintained. ZFS snapshots are created very quickly, since all the data composing the snapshot is already stored; they are also space efficient, since any unchanged data is shared among the file system and its snapshots.
Writeable snapshots (“clones”) can also be created, resulting in two independent file systems that share a set of blocks. As changes are made to any of the clone file systems, new data blocks are created to reflect those changes, but any unchanged blocks continue to be shared, no matter how many clones exist.
Essentially, ZFS is taking snapshots of the state of data, which would make auto-saving seemingly easy to implement. So ZFS supports a feature that Mac OS X Lion will have that Mac OS X Snow Leopard doesn’t, so a new ZFS file system it is right? It’s possible but this logic requires you to discount the fact that iOS (which is built off of Mac OS X) already has Auto-Save capabilities on top of an HFS+ file system (yes I see the redundancy, ATM machine, PIN number, blah blah).
Speculating about the future of Mac OS X is fun, so I’m happy to see ideas thrown around there, although I am very hesitant to believe ZFS is coming. Heck, maybe Apple is going to build an entirely new file system, since as ArsTechnica noticed, they were busy hiring filesystem engineers last year. Ultimately we’ll just have to wait to hear the answer to all these questions.
If you want to avoid getting caught up in the hype, you can check out the known Mac OS X 10.7 Lion features and screenshots, which were revealed by Apple at the Back to the Mac event.