• Apple Terminates ZFS Open Source Project

    In what came as a surprise to many, official word was issued last night confirming the end of Apple's ZFS open source project - an advanced file system developed by Sun that was ported to Mac OS X and released as an open source project on Apple's Mac OS Forge collaboration site two years ago.

    Apple Insider reports that the mailing list and repository will also be removed shortly.

    Mac OS Forge describes itself as "dedicated to supporting the developer community surrounding open source components specific to Mac OS X." It publishes source code and an information repository about a variety of open projects Apple funds and maintains, including: Darwin Calendar Server (used in iCal Server); Darwin Streaming Server (used in QuickTime Streaming Server); libdispatch (used in Grand Central Dispatch); WebKit (Used in Safari); XQuartz (used in Apple's X11 offering); and until recently, ZFS.
    The obvious question, of course, is why did Apple cut off the project. Unfortunately, the answer isn't entirely clear, although it is believed that legal rather than engineering issues proved the ultimate catalyst for the decision. For example, ZFS is currently involved with a lawsuit filed by NetApp against Sun.

    It's also been thought that ZFS just isn't a good fit for Apple's average customer. ZFS, after all, is customized to manage sizable numbers of disks. Since the usual Apple-fanatic only has a system with one hard disk or SSD drive, ZFS's features would largely been rendered useless or, at the very least, under-utilized.

    Apple's interest in porting ZFS was first signaled in early 2006 when it contacted Sun's OpenSolaris project; By August 2007 an early, read-only port of ZFS was published on Mac OS Forge and command line support was added to Mac OS X Leopard. Comments by Sun executives had tipped of wild speculation that ZFS would become the default file system of Mac OS X, and pundits pounced upon the idea that Apple's own technology was terrible and that anything it could replace with from outside sources would solve lots of problems for end users.
    Looking back, the writing may have been on the wall for this eventuality when rumors proved false about ZFS support in Snow Leopard. For the time being, however, it is thought that Apple is at work on developing its own alternative for use in future revisions of OS X. Nothing has been formally announced but a "file system engineer" has been listed in Apple's recent job listings.

    Image via TechGuru
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