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Ext4 Filesystem
Ext4 is an an advanced level of the ext3 filesystem which incorporates
scalability and reliability enhancements for supporting large filesystems
(64 bit) in keeping with increasing disk capacities and state-of-the-art
feature requirements.
Mailing list:
Web site:
1. Quick usage instructions:
Note: More extensive information for getting started with ext4 can be
found at the ext4 wiki site at the URL:
- Compile and install the latest version of e2fsprogs (as of this
writing version 1.41.3) from:
or grab the latest git repository from:
- Note that it is highly important to install the mke2fs.conf file
that comes with the e2fsprogs 1.41.x sources in /etc/mke2fs.conf. If
you have edited the /etc/mke2fs.conf file installed on your system,
you will need to merge your changes with the version from e2fsprogs
- Create a new filesystem using the ext4 filesystem type:
# mke2fs -t ext4 /dev/hda1
Or to configure an existing ext3 filesystem to support extents:
# tune2fs -O extents /dev/hda1
If the filesystem was created with 128 byte inodes, it can be
converted to use 256 byte for greater efficiency via:
# tune2fs -I 256 /dev/hda1
(Note: we currently do not have tools to convert an ext4
filesystem back to ext3; so please do not do try this on production
- Mounting:
# mount -t ext4 /dev/hda1 /wherever
- When comparing performance with other filesystems, it's always
important to try multiple workloads; very often a subtle change in a
workload parameter can completely change the ranking of which
filesystems do well compared to others. When comparing versus ext3,
note that ext4 enables write barriers by default, while ext3 does
not enable write barriers by default. So it is useful to use
explicitly specify whether barriers are enabled or not when via the
'-o barriers=[0|1]' mount option for both ext3 and ext4 filesystems
for a fair comparison. When tuning ext3 for best benchmark numbers,
it is often worthwhile to try changing the data journaling mode; '-o
data=writeback,nobh' can be faster for some workloads. (Note
however that running mounted with data=writeback can potentially
leave stale data exposed in recently written files in case of an
unclean shutdown, which could be a security exposure in some
situations.) Configuring the filesystem with a large journal can
also be helpful for metadata-intensive workloads.
2. Features
2.1 Currently available
* ability to use filesystems > 16TB (e2fsprogs support not available yet)
* extent format reduces metadata overhead (RAM, IO for access, transactions)
* extent format more robust in face of on-disk corruption due to magics,
* internal redundancy in tree
* improved file allocation (multi-block alloc)
* lift 32000 subdirectory limit imposed by i_links_count[1]
* nsec timestamps for mtime, atime, ctime, create time
* inode version field on disk (NFSv4, Lustre)
* reduced e2fsck time via uninit_bg feature
* journal checksumming for robustness, performance
* persistent file preallocation (e.g for streaming media, databases)
* ability to pack bitmaps and inode tables into larger virtual groups via the
flex_bg feature
* large file support
* Inode allocation using large virtual block groups via flex_bg
* delayed allocation
* large block (up to pagesize) support
* efficent new ordered mode in JBD2 and ext4(avoid using buffer head to force
the ordering)
[1] Filesystems with a block size of 1k may see a limit imposed by the
directory hash tree having a maximum depth of two.
2.2 Candidate features for future inclusion
* Online defrag (patches available but not well tested)
* reduced mke2fs time via lazy itable initialization in conjuction with
the uninit_bg feature (capability to do this is available in e2fsprogs
but a kernel thread to do lazy zeroing of unused inode table blocks
after filesystem is first mounted is required for safety)
There are several others under discussion, whether they all make it in is
partly a function of how much time everyone has to work on them. Features like
metadata checksumming have been discussed and planned for a bit but no patches
exist yet so I'm not sure they're in the near-term roadmap.
The big performance win will come with mballoc, delalloc and flex_bg
grouping of bitmaps and inode tables. Some test results available here:
3. Options
When mounting an ext4 filesystem, the following option are accepted:
(*) == default
ro Mount filesystem read only. Note that ext4 will
replay the journal (and thus write to the
partition) even when mounted "read only". The
mount options "ro,noload" can be used to prevent
writes to the filesystem.
journal_checksum Enable checksumming of the journal transactions.
This will allow the recovery code in e2fsck and the
kernel to detect corruption in the kernel. It is a
compatible change and will be ignored by older kernels.
journal_async_commit Commit block can be written to disk without waiting
for descriptor blocks. If enabled older kernels cannot
mount the device. This will enable 'journal_checksum'
journal=update Update the ext4 file system's journal to the current
journal_dev=devnum When the external journal device's major/minor numbers
have changed, this option allows the user to specify
the new journal location. The journal device is
identified through its new major/minor numbers encoded
in devnum.
norecovery Don't load the journal on mounting. Note that
noload if the filesystem was not unmounted cleanly,
skipping the journal replay will lead to the
filesystem containing inconsistencies that can
lead to any number of problems.
data=journal All data are committed into the journal prior to being
written into the main file system.
data=ordered (*) All data are forced directly out to the main file
system prior to its metadata being committed to the
data=writeback Data ordering is not preserved, data may be written
into the main file system after its metadata has been
committed to the journal.
commit=nrsec (*) Ext4 can be told to sync all its data and metadata
every 'nrsec' seconds. The default value is 5 seconds.
This means that if you lose your power, you will lose
as much as the latest 5 seconds of work (your
filesystem will not be damaged though, thanks to the
journaling). This default value (or any low value)
will hurt performance, but it's good for data-safety.
Setting it to 0 will have the same effect as leaving
it at the default (5 seconds).
Setting it to very large values will improve
barrier=<0|1(*)> This enables/disables the use of write barriers in
barrier(*) the jbd code. barrier=0 disables, barrier=1 enables.
nobarrier This also requires an IO stack which can support
barriers, and if jbd gets an error on a barrier
write, it will disable again with a warning.
Write barriers enforce proper on-disk ordering
of journal commits, making volatile disk write caches
safe to use, at some performance penalty. If
your disks are battery-backed in one way or another,
disabling barriers may safely improve performance.
The mount options "barrier" and "nobarrier" can
also be used to enable or disable barriers, for
consistency with other ext4 mount options.
inode_readahead_blks=n This tuning parameter controls the maximum
number of inode table blocks that ext4's inode
table readahead algorithm will pre-read into
the buffer cache. The default value is 32 blocks.
orlov (*) This enables the new Orlov block allocator. It is
enabled by default.
oldalloc This disables the Orlov block allocator and enables
the old block allocator. Orlov should have better
performance - we'd like to get some feedback if it's
the contrary for you.
user_xattr Enables Extended User Attributes. Additionally, you
need to have extended attribute support enabled in the
kernel configuration (CONFIG_EXT4_FS_XATTR). See the
attr(5) manual page and to
learn more about extended attributes.
nouser_xattr Disables Extended User Attributes.
acl Enables POSIX Access Control Lists support.
Additionally, you need to have ACL support enabled in
the kernel configuration (CONFIG_EXT4_FS_POSIX_ACL).
See the acl(5) manual page and
for more information.
noacl This option disables POSIX Access Control List
bsddf (*) Make 'df' act like BSD.
minixdf Make 'df' act like Minix.
debug Extra debugging information is sent to syslog.
abort Simulate the effects of calling ext4_abort() for
debugging purposes. This is normally used while
remounting a filesystem which is already mounted.
errors=remount-ro Remount the filesystem read-only on an error.
errors=continue Keep going on a filesystem error.
errors=panic Panic and halt the machine if an error occurs.
(These mount options override the errors behavior
specified in the superblock, which can be configured
using tune2fs)
data_err=ignore(*) Just print an error message if an error occurs
in a file data buffer in ordered mode.
data_err=abort Abort the journal if an error occurs in a file
data buffer in ordered mode.
grpid Give objects the same group ID as their creator.
nogrpid (*) New objects have the group ID of their creator.
resgid=n The group ID which may use the reserved blocks.
resuid=n The user ID which may use the reserved blocks.
sb=n Use alternate superblock at this location.
quota These options are ignored by the filesystem. They
noquota are used only by quota tools to recognize volumes
grpquota where quota should be turned on. See documentation
usrquota in the quota-tools package for more details
jqfmt=<quota type> These options tell filesystem details about quota
usrjquota=<file> so that quota information can be properly updated
grpjquota=<file> during journal replay. They replace the above
quota options. See documentation in the quota-tools
package for more details
bh (*) ext4 associates buffer heads to data pages to
nobh (a) cache disk block mapping information
(b) link pages into transaction to provide
ordering guarantees.
"bh" option forces use of buffer heads.
"nobh" option tries to avoid associating buffer
heads (supported only for "writeback" mode).
stripe=n Number of filesystem blocks that mballoc will try
to use for allocation size and alignment. For RAID5/6
systems this should be the number of data
disks * RAID chunk size in file system blocks.
delalloc (*) Defer block allocation until just before ext4
writes out the block(s) in question. This
allows ext4 to better allocation decisions
more efficiently.
nodelalloc Disable delayed allocation. Blocks are allocated
when the data is copied from userspace to the
page cache, either via the write(2) system call
or when an mmap'ed page which was previously
unallocated is written for the first time.
max_batch_time=usec Maximum amount of time ext4 should wait for
additional filesystem operations to be batch
together with a synchronous write operation.
Since a synchronous write operation is going to
force a commit and then a wait for the I/O
complete, it doesn't cost much, and can be a
huge throughput win, we wait for a small amount
of time to see if any other transactions can
piggyback on the synchronous write. The
algorithm used is designed to automatically tune
for the speed of the disk, by measuring the
amount of time (on average) that it takes to
finish committing a transaction. Call this time
the "commit time". If the time that the
transaction has been running is less than the
commit time, ext4 will try sleeping for the
commit time to see if other operations will join
the transaction. The commit time is capped by
the max_batch_time, which defaults to 15000us
(15ms). This optimization can be turned off
entirely by setting max_batch_time to 0.
min_batch_time=usec This parameter sets the commit time (as
described above) to be at least min_batch_time.
It defaults to zero microseconds. Increasing
this parameter may improve the throughput of
multi-threaded, synchronous workloads on very
fast disks, at the cost of increasing latency.
journal_ioprio=prio The I/O priority (from 0 to 7, where 0 is the
highest priorty) which should be used for I/O
operations submitted by kjournald2 during a
commit operation. This defaults to 3, which is
a slightly higher priority than the default I/O
auto_da_alloc(*) Many broken applications don't use fsync() when
noauto_da_alloc replacing existing files via patterns such as
fd = open("")/write(fd,..)/close(fd)/
rename("", "foo"), or worse yet,
fd = open("foo", O_TRUNC)/write(fd,..)/close(fd).
If auto_da_alloc is enabled, ext4 will detect
the replace-via-rename and replace-via-truncate
patterns and force that any delayed allocation
blocks are allocated such that at the next
journal commit, in the default data=ordered
mode, the data blocks of the new file are forced
to disk before the rename() operation is
committed. This provides roughly the same level
of guarantees as ext3, and avoids the
"zero-length" problem that can happen when a
system crashes before the delayed allocation
blocks are forced to disk.
noinit_itable Do not initialize any uninitialized inode table
blocks in the background. This feature may be
used by installation CD's so that the install
process can complete as quickly as possible; the
inode table initialization process would then be
deferred until the next time the file system
is unmounted.
init_itable=n The lazy itable init code will wait n times the
number of milliseconds it took to zero out the
previous block group's inode table. This
minimizes the impact on the systme performance
while file system's inode table is being initialized.
discard Controls whether ext4 should issue discard/TRIM
nodiscard(*) commands to the underlying block device when
blocks are freed. This is useful for SSD devices
and sparse/thinly-provisioned LUNs, but it is off
by default until sufficient testing has been done.
Data Mode
There are 3 different data modes:
* writeback mode
In data=writeback mode, ext4 does not journal data at all. This mode provides
a similar level of journaling as that of XFS, JFS, and ReiserFS in its default
mode - metadata journaling. A crash+recovery can cause incorrect data to
appear in files which were written shortly before the crash. This mode will
typically provide the best ext4 performance.
* ordered mode
In data=ordered mode, ext4 only officially journals metadata, but it logically
groups metadata information related to data changes with the data blocks into a
single unit called a transaction. When it's time to write the new metadata
out to disk, the associated data blocks are written first. In general,
this mode performs slightly slower than writeback but significantly faster than journal mode.
* journal mode
data=journal mode provides full data and metadata journaling. All new data is
written to the journal first, and then to its final location.
In the event of a crash, the journal can be replayed, bringing both data and
metadata into a consistent state. This mode is the slowest except when data
needs to be read from and written to disk at the same time where it
outperforms all others modes. Currently ext4 does not have delayed
allocation support if this data journalling mode is selected.
kernel source: <file:fs/ext4/>
useful links: