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Apple adds drop-in journaling to OS X server

No reformat required

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Apple has added journaling capabilities to its HFS+ Extended file system in a point.point update to the OS X Server software.

Journaling is a convenience feature for system administrators: it improves restart times after a crash on large volumes, as the system only needs to check the journal rather than every block on the disk. Linux users can take advantage of three journal file systems: ext3, ReiserFS and Silicon Graphics' XFS.

Like ext3 (tunefs -j ), but unlike some of its other counterparts, HFS+ journaling does not require the partition to be reformatted: there's a one button "Make journaled" option in the 10.2.2 Disk Utility program, or a command line alternative which allows BoFHs to enable journaling remotely via ssh.

The 10.2.2 update includes a improvements likely to be useful to users of the Jaguar desktop. There's a faster 'Find' (hurrah!) and a number of enhancements have been made to the revamped Jaguar address book, the very rudimentary interface to a new contacts engine that will play a critical role in establish the Mac as a smartphone and PDA-friendly system. (Given Microsoft's antipathy to Palm and Symbian, this is a shrewd move).

Last month eWeek reported that Apple would be introducing the feature, codenamed "Elvis".

Earlier this year Apple hired Dominic Giampaulo, who wrote BeOS' journaling file system BFS. In addition to being a fast 64bit file system, BFS was designed to have database-like properties, making extensive use of file attributes. You can read about that in an interview we conducted back in February, here with Dominic and Benoit Schillings, author of BFS' predecessor Modal View Controller.

BFS database qualities were made possible by BeOS extremely low thread latencies - allowing it to index file attributes in the background. Whether OS X is yet up to snuff in this department is hard to say. An incremental "HFS++" that makes use of attributes is possible today, but could impose an unacceptable impact on performance. Performance remains a touchy subject around Cupertino: and no one wants to use a system that's dog slow.

Apple has been encouraging developers to move away from the traditional data fork/resource fork model for file typing. Whether it's planning for continued evolution or revolution, we can't yet say. ®

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