The ReiserFS filesystem was mentioned earlier; this section provides more in-depth information about its advantages and capabilities. ReiserFS is one of the most stable Linux journaling filesystems available. Although occasional problems have surfaced in the past, the ReiserFS filesystem is widely used, and problems are therefore quickly corrected.

ReiserFS does not allocate and access files in the traditional block-by-block manner as do other filesystems such as EXT2, but instead uses a very fast, balanced b-tree (binary tree) algorithm to find both free space and existing files on the disk. This b-tree adds a simple but elegant mechanism for dealing with small files (files that are smaller than the filesystem block size, generally 4 kilobytes) in ReiserFS. If a file is smaller than a filesystem block, it is actually stored in the binary tree itself instead of being pointed to. Retrieving the data for these files therefore takes no more time than is required to locate them in the b-tree, which makes ReiserFS an excellent choice for filesystems in which large numbers of small files are constantly being created and deleted, such as mail directories or mail servers.

ReiserFS also provides other optimization that can lead to dramatic space savings compared to traditional filesystems.

When a file is stored on a filesystem, filesystem blocks are allocated to actually store the data that the files contain. If you had a block size of 4K, but wanted to store a file of 6K on the disk, you would be wasting 2K of disk space because a block belongs to one file only and in this case you would have to occupy two, wasting 2K and therefore not optimally using the space. ReiserFS can also store these fragments in its b-tree by packing them together, which provides another way of minimizing disk space consumption in a ReiserFS filesystem. Later in the chapter, we look at some published benchmarks comparing filesystems in different situations.

| f - - p ReiserFS is the default filesystem on SLES 9 and SLES 10 and on older versions of j^-.- JV^;;-openSUSE.

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