Canonical quietly axing ZFS on Ubuntu?

So there was an article posted to OMG!Ubuntu! titled “The Future of ZFS on Ubuntu Desktop is Not Looking Good” which suggests that zsys has been mothballed and developers have been working to remove it from the main install and indeed seems to have vanished from the 23.04 installer.
It looks like Canonical still has yet to comment.

Anyone concerned about their personal future running Ubuntu because of this potential change? Will this spur you into rolling-your-own ZFS support? Switch to btrfs? Do you think this is blogspam masquerading as news? I know there’s a few people in the network that use the ZFS on Ubuntu and I’m kind of interested in what they have to say.


I’m not fully read in on this ZFS. I do recall there is a licensing issue because of Oracle close sourcing ZFS and therefore we got openZFS but there are still concerns with litigation. With everyone else seeming to push BTRFS, I think that seems to be the safer future bet vs. Canonical continuing to try and support this on their own. Of course, this could be impactful to a lot of servers and companies who rely on the implementation and they should be clear with the community the direction they’re planning to take. Just my 2c but again I’m not an expert in this area.


They only dumped booting from OpenZFS, OpenZFS is still supported for storage. Just type “sudo apt install zfsutils-linux”. Afterwards you can define the ZFS storage configuration.

I think it was a good decision to dump booting from ZFS, the original designers considered too many features in one go. My mother would say: “Their eyes were bigger than their mouth”. I would advice Ubuntu to have a look at the more simple ZFS boot process in FreeBSD, especially now Linux and BSD have an integrated development team for OpenZFS. Probably that team should take responsibility for booting from Linux and BSD.

I’m a user of Ubuntu since 2008 and from ZFS since March 2018 and I love both. I used booting from ZFS for say 1.5 year, but begin 2022 I switched back to ext4 for the system. I had the impression, that the ZFS boot process got a low priority. I still store all my data and all my VMs on ZFS and I will keep on doing it.

In the Caribbean with 2 to 20 power-fails per week, using ext4 did cost me over 100 of corrupted files in the period from 2010 to 2018. After March 2018 I had NO corrupted files anymore.


Note that OpenZFS is not maintained by Canonical, but by an integrated development team of developers from FreeBSD and Linux.
Note that 30 companies sell products based on OpenZFS and the most famous are Proxmox and TrueNAS. None of those companies have been sued, so I don’t believe that litigation BS. It is more that some large companies like Microsoft and IBM/Red Hat work on a competitor for OpenZFS and as major open source contributors they block the acceptance of the superior product: OpenZFS.
None of the professional companies will want to switch to btrfs, because of a missing abstraction level in their architecture,

  • they keep dealing with problem related to more complex configurations and
  • they even have an issue to correctly specify the correct storage size for most configurations.

Also with respect to btrfs, my mother would say: “Their eyes were bigger than their mouth”.

@BertN45 re BTRFS. Currently I use Ubuntu 22.04. In the past years I uses EXT, then BTRFS, then Ubuntu ZFS. Original use of BTRFS was years ago and after a couple “data losses” I reinstalled my backups to an Ubuntu ZFS system… Worked really well but I was hitting a wall with adding more storage, and frankly some of the complexity in areas.

I’d kept following the progress of BTRFS (beyond the raid 5/6 write hole issue) and they’ve made great improvements in it. As you’re probably aware several Distro’s now default to BTRFS.

A couple months ago I found this article

Also, two important (to me) configuration/setup articles:

To have GRUB boot off of a BTRFS partition look at GRUB-BTRFS on Github.

For use of TimeShift to auto create BTRFS snapshots whenever you execute
** “$ sudo apt install/remove/purge”** etc


Expanding the BTRFS File System is super easy when adding new disks/SSD.

btrfs filesystem show gives you a list of all the btrfs filesystems on the systems and which devices they include.
btrfs device add is used to add new devices to a mounted filesystem.
btrfs balance can balance (restripe) the allocated extents across all of the existing devices. For example, with an existing filesystem mounted at /mnt, you can add the device /dev/sdc to it with:
$ sudo btrfs device add /dev/sdc /mnt

at this point we have added our device to the filesystem, but all of the metadata and data are still stored on the original device(s). The filesystem can be balanced to spread the extents across all the devices.

$ btrfs balance start /mnt

The btrfs balance operation will take some time. It reads in all of the file system data and metadata and rewrites it across all the available devices.

Depending on the usage scenario that is not needed, one example would be adding a new device to a RAID 1 filesystem whose existing devices still have enough space left. However, in other cases a balancing might be needed.

This has been working great for me.

Added a 2nd 2TB NVME to my mobo and used “btrfs device add/balance etc” and shazam I had an ~4TB BTRFS file system.

Including booting from BTRFS!

Ubuntu’s ZFS did work really well. Its just BTRFS is already part of the Linux Kernel!

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Good. You were actually one of the first people I thought of when I read the article. I’m glad there’s still support ongoing.

I used btrfs too, even in Raid-0 with two 40GB IDE HDDs. Btrfs works fine in simpler configuration, but I still think they miss an abstraction level in the architecture and that causes that strange free space display and it causes the issues in more complex configurations.
Currently I store the Host system in ext4, but I consider to format my 16GB system partition with btrfs for the compression and especially the snapshots.