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Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition by Marco Cesati, Daniel P. Bovet

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The Ext3 Filesystem

In this section we'll briefly describe the enhanced filesystem that has evolved from Ext2, named Ext3. The new filesystem has been designed with two simple concepts in mind:

  • To be a journaling filesystem (see the next section)

  • To be, as much as possible, compatible with the old Ext2 filesystem

Ext3 achieves both the goals very well. In particular, it is largely based on Ext2, so its data structures on disk are essentially identical to those of an Ext2 filesystem. As a matter of fact, if an Ext3 filesystem has been cleanly unmounted, it can be remounted as an Ext2 filesystem; conversely, creating a journal of an Ext2 filesystem and remounting it as an Ext3 filesystem is a simple, fast operation.

Thanks to the compatibility between Ext3 and Ext2, most descriptions in the previous sections of this chapter apply to Ext3 as well. Therefore, in this section, we focus on the new feature offered by Ext3 — "the journal."

Journaling Filesystems

As disks became larger, one design choice of traditional Unix filesystems (such as Ext2) turns out to be inappropriate. As we know from Chapter 14, updates to filesystem blocks might be kept in dynamic memory for long period of time before being flushed to disk. A dramatic event such as a power-down failure or a system crash might thus leave the filesystem in an inconsistent state. To overcome this problem, each traditional Unix filesystem is checked before being mounted; if it has not been properly unmounted, then a specific program ...

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