A file system is a technology that outlines how data is stored and retrieved. There are many different kinds of file systems, each with their own benefits, to pick from. You’ve probably heard of file systems like exFAT, F2FS, ext4. Choosing one file system over another can have profound impacts on storage performance and stability, so the decision isn’t taken lightly by device makers. Most device makers settle with the popular, well-tested file systems like ext4, but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t willing to experiment with alternatives. That’s exactly what Huawei is doing with an open-source Linux file-system called EROFS, which is intended to be used on Android devices at some point.
The announcement was made by Huawei engineer Gao Xiang. EROFS is short for “Extendable Read-Only File System.” EROFS, which is still at a very early stage of development, features an improved compression mode which pursues a different design approach than other file systems, focusing mostly on performance and speed. Huawei engineers promise that EROFS will be offering improved disk performance and speeds when compared to other read-only file systems while still saving up on disk space. The compression numbers disclosed during the announcement for both server hardware and a Kirin 970 processor sound very promising. Sadly, not a lot of information has been disclosed due to its development status.
EROFS is still pretty much a work-in-progress. The end goal is to include it in Android devices, but it will probably be several months, if not more until Huawei even considers the inclusion of the file system into the mainline Linux kernel. It’s quite likely we’ll be seeing that number increased to years if we talk about the inclusion of it in actual, consumer Android devices. We’ve seen OEMs experiment with, and subsequently abandon, F2FS on their devices, so don’t be surprised if EROFS adoption never actually happens. If you want to have a look at the current code, you can check it out on the kernel mailing list here.
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