It really is amazing to see how some people will decide that the best way to get some talk going about a new product is to start a small bashing session, and then come back with all the reasons why the bashing should not be.

There is probably a name for this in the advertising world, but we, outside the holiest of advertising holies, are not privileged enough to know.

Though I don’t use Apple products on a daily basis, I find they work well for me when I do, and that many of the annoyances of the Windows operating system are not there. To be fair, I’m sure that more use would cause me to see the shortcomings of OS X, as familiarity breeds contempt, but for now I can only see the ease of use, and smoothness with which it works.

Lots of people would cite speed as a factor, but I don’t see that, unless you mean that by relieving the user of fighting with the OS, it is faster. Then I would have to agree.

From my perspective, I would have to say that it is about time that Apple comes out with some of the things it has been promising, but has not delivered. I specifically mean ZFS.

The Zetta (rhymes with Betta, the fighting fish, incorrectly used by an idiot at Microsoft for the Windows 7 beta [rhymes with theta] background, or, Panetta, the government guy) File System. ZFS was to be used, as it is, for now,, the be-all-end-all file system for large, secure storage. Robin Harris, from ZDNet, gives a small primer on it –

It’s official: ZFS – a kick-butt file system is nowhere to be seen in the latest release of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard. Even though it appeared in 10.5 Server, and was expected to become the default file system at some point, Apple has abandoned the Sun-developed ZFS, the first 21st century file system.

A bummer for anyone who stores data on their computer.

Why should I care?
Apple is hoping you don’t – and they’re probably right. None of the mainstream press have mentioned dropped feature, even though it is right up there with parallel processing support as a winner for users.

ZFS combines a file system and a volume manager, along with some cool architectural features, to create an easily managed and highly reliable file system. Advanced features that just work.

Some cool features.
Manage storage, not disks. You can put all your disks in a pool and specify the redundancy level. ZFS takes care of the rest.
No more silent data corruption.Wonky things can happen to your data to and from a disk. ZFS checksums every file before it is written and stores the checksum on the parent. When the file is read, the checksum tells the filesystem if that is the block it wrote.
Easy snapshots. Ever wish you could roll back to a known good state? Snapshots make that easy and ZFS makes snapshots easy.
High performance software RAID built-in. Worried about protecting your data. ZFS provides strong RAID capabilities without adding hardware.
Transparent compression on the fly. Save capacity by compressing old and/or large files automagically.

What happened?
2 years ago it looked like ZFS was locked in to Snow Leopard. The Apple team was working with the Sun ZFS team. It was enabled as a read-only file system on 10.5 server. Apple even freakin’ announced ZFS on Snow Leopard. The advantages – to storage geeks – were obvious.

Plus the opportunity to put daylight between OS X and Windows 7. Microsoft’s ambitions for something called WinFS crashed to earth 3 years ago (see Bring me the head of WinFS).

Mr. Harris delves into the possible reasons for the removal of ZFS from the delivered system, but, I think (if you’ll excuse me, as I have my own thoughts, and they seem to differ from any I’ve been reading) that Apple has been suffering from a lack of Steve Jobs kicking butt in his usual manner (he was sick you know, something about a transplant), and a fear of screwing up in the same manner that Microsoft did, with Vista.

So the game plan has been to play it safe, lately. ZFS would require some real work, and perhaps the time was not there – but mainly, Apple is playing it safe.  Not upsetting the (apple) cart, keeping out of trouble when you have the (ideological) lead, etc.

So that is my disappointment, but maybe the upside to all the chastising is that the guys at Apple will wake up, and realize it’s time to throw a bomb (football metaphor here, not reference to a Vista-type release move), just to wake up the fans.

As a side benefit, perhaps someone at Microsoft will return to work on WinFS, since Microsoft is restricting those who wanted to continue, privately, from doing so.



All is not what it seems, grasshopper. Calling Mr. Escher…

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