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Btrfs is a copy on write filesystem for Linux aimed at
implementing advanced features while focusing on fault tolerance,
repair and easy administration. Initially developed by Oracle, Btrfs
is licensed under the GPL and open for contribution from anyone.
Linux has a wealth of filesystems to choose from, but we are facing a
number of challenges with scaling to the large storage subsystems that
are becoming common in today's data centers. Filesystems need to scale
in their ability to address and manage large storage, and also in
their ability to detect, repair and tolerate errors in the data stored
on disk. Btrfs is under heavy development, and is not suitable for
any uses other than benchmarking and review. The Btrfs disk format is
not yet finalized.
The main Btrfs features include:
* Extent based file storage (2^64 max file size)
* Space efficient packing of small files
* Space efficient indexed directories
* Dynamic inode allocation
* Writable snapshots
* Subvolumes (separate internal filesystem roots)
* Object level mirroring and striping
* Checksums on data and metadata (multiple algorithms available)
* Compression
* Integrated multiple device support, with several raid algorithms
* Online filesystem check (not yet implemented)
* Very fast offline filesystem check
* Efficient incremental backup and FS mirroring (not yet implemented)
* Online filesystem defragmentation
Mount Options
When mounting a btrfs filesystem, the following option are accepted.
Unless otherwise specified, all options default to off.
Debugging option to force all block allocations above a certain
byte threshold on each block device. The value is specified in
bytes, optionally with a K, M, or G suffix, case insensitive.
Default is 1MB.
Detect small random writes into files and queue them up for the
defrag process. Works best for small files; Not well suited for
large database workloads.
These debugging options control the behavior of the integrity checking
module (the BTRFS_FS_CHECK_INTEGRITY config option required).
check_int enables the integrity checker module, which examines all
block write requests to ensure on-disk consistency, at a large
memory and CPU cost.
check_int_data includes extent data in the integrity checks, and
implies the check_int option.
check_int_print_mask takes a bitmask of BTRFSIC_PRINT_MASK_* values
as defined in fs/btrfs/check-integrity.c, to control the integrity
checker module behavior.
See comments at the top of fs/btrfs/check-integrity.c for more info.
Control BTRFS file data compression. Type may be specified as "zlib"
"lzo" or "no" (for no compression, used for remounting). If no type
is specified, zlib is used. If compress-force is specified,
all files will be compressed, whether or not they compress well.
If compression is enabled, nodatacow and nodatasum are disabled.
Allow mounts to continue with missing devices. A read-write mount may
fail with too many devices missing, for example if a stripe member
is completely missing.
Specify a device during mount so that ioctls on the control device
can be avoided. Especially useful when trying to mount a multi-device
setup as root. May be specified multiple times for multiple devices.
Issue frequent commands to let the block device reclaim space freed by
the filesystem. This is useful for SSD devices, thinly provisioned
LUNs and virtual machine images, but may have a significant
performance impact. (The fstrim command is also available to
initiate batch trims from userspace).
Debugging option to be more verbose in some ENOSPC conditions.
Action to take when encountering a fatal error:
"bug" - BUG() on a fatal error. This is the default.
"panic" - panic() on a fatal error.
The 'flushoncommit' mount option forces any data dirtied by a write in a
prior transaction to commit as part of the current commit. This makes
the committed state a fully consistent view of the file system from the
application's perspective (i.e., it includes all completed file system
operations). This was previously the behavior only when a snapshot is
Enable free inode number caching. Defaults to off due to an overflow
problem when the free space crcs don't fit inside a single page.
Specify the maximum amount of space, in bytes, that can be inlined in
a metadata B-tree leaf. The value is specified in bytes, optionally
with a K, M, or G suffix, case insensitive. In practice, this value
is limited by the root sector size, with some space unavailable due
to leaf headers. For a 4k sectorsize, max inline data is ~3900 bytes.
Specify that 1 metadata chunk should be allocated after every <value>
data chunks. Off by default.
Disable support for Posix Access Control Lists (ACLs). See the
acl(5) manual page for more information about ACLs.
Disables the use of block layer write barriers. Write barriers ensure
that certain IOs make it through the device cache and are on persistent
storage. If used on a device with a volatile (non-battery-backed)
write-back cache, this option will lead to filesystem corruption on a
system crash or power loss.
Disable data copy-on-write for newly created files. Implies nodatasum,
and disables all compression.
Disable data checksumming for newly created files.
Disable the tree logging used for fsync and O_SYNC writes.
Enable autorecovery attempts if a bad tree root is found at mount time.
Currently this scans a list of several previous tree roots and tries to
use the first readable.
Skip automatic resume of interrupted balance operation after mount.
May be resumed with "btrfs balance resume."
space_cache (*)
Enable the on-disk freespace cache.
Disable freespace cache loading without clearing the cache.
Force clearing and rebuilding of the disk space cache if something
has gone wrong.
Options to control ssd allocation schemes. By default, BTRFS will
enable or disable ssd allocation heuristics depending on whether a
rotational or nonrotational disk is in use. The ssd and nossd options
can override this autodetection.
The ssd_spread mount option attempts to allocate into big chunks
of unused space, and may perform better on low-end ssds. ssd_spread
implies ssd, enabling all other ssd heuristics as well.
Mount subvolume at <path> rather than the root subvolume. <path> is
relative to the top level subvolume.
Mount subvolume specified by an ID number rather than the root subvolume.
This allows mounting of subvolumes which are not in the root of the mounted
You can use "btrfs subvolume list" to see subvolume ID numbers.
subvolrootid=<objectid> (deprecated)
Mount subvolume specified by <objectid> rather than the root subvolume.
This allows mounting of subvolumes which are not in the root of the mounted
You can use "btrfs subvolume show " to see the object ID for a subvolume.
The number of worker threads to allocate. The default number is equal
to the number of CPUs + 2, or 8, whichever is smaller.
Allow subvolumes to be deleted by a non-root user. Use with caution.
There is a Btrfs mailing list hosted on You can
find details on how to subscribe here:
Mailing list archives are available from gmane:
Discussion of Btrfs also occurs on the #btrfs channel of the Freenode
IRC network.
Userspace tools for creating and manipulating Btrfs file systems are
available from the git repository at the following location:
These include the following tools:
mkfs.btrfs: create a filesystem
btrfsctl: control program to create snapshots and subvolumes:
mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
btrfsctl -s new_subvol_name /mnt
btrfsctl -s snapshot_of_default /mnt/default
btrfsctl -s snapshot_of_new_subvol /mnt/new_subvol_name
btrfsctl -s snapshot_of_a_snapshot /mnt/snapshot_of_new_subvol
ls /mnt
default snapshot_of_a_snapshot snapshot_of_new_subvol
new_subvol_name snapshot_of_default
Snapshots and subvolumes cannot be deleted right now, but you can
rm -rf all the files and directories inside them.
btrfsck: do a limited check of the FS extent trees.
btrfs-debug-tree: print all of the FS metadata in text form. Example:
btrfs-debug-tree /dev/sda2 >& big_output_file