ReiserFS in Decline [CL74]

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023 | Series: Chaos Lever
What’s in a name? Sometimes forced obsolescence.


[00:00:00.170] Ned: Triple truth.

[00:00:02.450] Chris: A double plus. Good truth.

[00:00:05.810] Ned: Did they have triples in 1984? Or was it all was double plus the highest? Because then it went I thought it.

[00:00:13.110] Chris: Was yeah, I thought it was just double plus, but it’s been a long time since I read that book.

[00:00:18.450] Ned: With good reason. It’s not as good as people say it is.

[00:00:22.930] Chris: Well, it’s a philosophical tracked more than it is a gripping and well written beach narrative.

[00:00:31.950] Ned: That’s probably the reason that every time they’ve tried to adopt it for, say, television, it’s been awful. Because that’s not the point.

[00:00:43.870] Chris: We need more explosions, guys.

[00:00:49.310] Ned: Similar problem with Fahrenheit 451. They’ve tried to adopt that multiple times, and every time it’s bad. And I’m like, some things are meant to be a book, and that’s the format that works.

[00:01:03.030] Chris: The guy in on being and nothingness needs a love interest. Oh, my God.

[00:01:10.310] Ned: On the other hand, they’ve tried to make The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged into movies, or not a TV show, but like a series, like a short run series. And that has also been god awful.

[00:01:25.290] Chris: Well, there’s nothing short about Atlas Shrugged.

[00:01:28.450] Ned: No.

[00:01:29.000] Chris: Including the amount of criticism of it. Nice.

[00:01:32.160] Ned: Yes. Well, the problem with that is that the source material is also terrible. So at least when you try to adopt something like a Bradbury, you know the source is going to be pretty good. It’s just never been meant for television. And he famously hated television.

[00:01:50.370] Chris: Along with everything else.

[00:01:52.630] Ned: I guess he casts a wide net. He’s like, well, it’s not a book, so I hate it. And even some books, I hate those, too.

[00:02:03.350] Chris: They look television sized.

[00:02:07.190] Ned: Oh, yeah. It kind of blew me away when I realized how all the Ray Bradbury I’d read, I enjoyed. But when I got to know the man a little bit better, I was, hmm, never meet your idols or read about them.

[00:02:22.420] Chris: Maybe I shouldn’t have done that.

[00:02:24.990] Ned: Whereas, like, Kurt Vonnegut just better the more I learn about him.

[00:02:31.310] Chris: Yeah. Well, he is a time traveler.

[00:02:34.770] Ned: Aren’t we all? Hello, alleged human, and welcome to the Chaos Lover podcast. My name is Ned, and I’m definitely not a robot. I can go upstairs and downstairs and I rarely fall over. I have total command of all my sensory organs with or without a parking cone on my head, and I am still definitely not afraid of Loctite, the red or the blue kind. With me is Chris, who is also here. Loctite.

[00:03:06.470] Chris: Do you have any idea what that is?

[00:03:09.420] Ned: No. It sounds like something that locks things up tight. So they did real well on the branding, or they didn’t.

[00:03:19.310] Chris: Well, it got confusing because now it’s a company and not just a product, but yeah, its famous product is if you want to put machinery together and seize the nuts and bolts so that they have much more resistance to becoming unnutted and bolted, you would use loctite and there’s two different kinds. One is allegedly reversible and the other is supposed to be permanent.

[00:03:50.490] Ned: Is anything really permanent in this world?

[00:03:57.550] Chris: Your ability to drive me insane feels like a constant.

[00:04:02.750] Ned: Well, there’s universal constants, like change, but nothing’s permanent except for change. Wait, what?

[00:04:13.570] Chris: I was told a change would do you good.

[00:04:17.090] Ned: I was told we’re going to talk about file systems and we lost everyone.

[00:04:24.470] Chris: We are going to talk about file systems. We’re going to talk about deprecated file.

[00:04:31.040] Ned: Systems, even better, file systems that don’t matter anymore.

[00:04:36.410] Chris: Or do they?

[00:04:38.010] Ned: I mean, I’ll caution the listener this could get interesting. There might be a little bit of murder. Well, I didn’t like the way I said that.

[00:04:49.930] Chris: No, that got creepy.

[00:04:52.830] Ned: I’m going to roll that back. So there might be some intrigue. Let’s say we’ll see where that unpleasantness. Definitely unpleasantness. So what are we talking about, Chris?

[00:05:06.450] Chris: So first, the news. This week, or last week, or a week, it was announced that Riser FS file system is going to be deprecated in Linux. And over the next 25 minutes or so, I will explain all of those words to you. Okay, so to be specific, it’s not deprecated in the sense of deprecated that we’re used to. It’s actually been marked obsolete.

[00:05:35.290] Ned: Okay?

[00:05:35.950] Chris: Now the short version of what that means is it used to have mainstream support in the Linux kernel, which means it effectively was an option or a default. That decision happened years and years and years ago. As we’ll see, this conversation goes all the way back to the 90s. Now in 2023, it was determined that file system is no longer necessary and therefore will no longer be directly and manifestly supported in mainstream distributions. Okay, so that’s kind of a big deal because the average user just takes the defaults and runs with it. And I’m not saying that in a snarky way, that’s what you should do. But now this news means that Riser FS will not be one of those defaults.

[00:06:19.770] Ned: Okay? So in theory, if I have a system today and I used Riser FS as my file system and I upgrade the Linux kernel, I would have to do something for it to be able to still read that Riser FS.

[00:06:36.430] Chris: If you do an upgrade, it’s likely the modules will stay in place.

[00:06:39.620] Ned: Okay.

[00:06:40.590] Chris: If you do a net new installation, you’re going to have to do a lot more work to make Riser work.

[00:06:46.370] Ned: Okay.

[00:06:48.930] Chris: So that’s why it’s not truly deprecated. It’s been marked obsolete. And one of the reasons that progress on it has been let’s call it herky jerky, is part of the previously referenced unpleasantness that we’ll get to in order to understand everything that’s going on. Let’s talk about some Linux file systems. All right, man actually oh, not there yet. Okay, stop interrupting me.

[00:07:23.550] Ned: Unlikely.

[00:07:26.510] Chris: Let’s start with Linux itself and the way that it was designed and continues to be run that enables the kinds of crazy options in file system world that we have. Now, I don’t think I need to belabor the point, but Linux is very proudly an open operating environment. There is a kernel that is the genius mastermind of the Linux operating environment that is in fact controlled with what can only be called ruthless enthusiasm by a very strange little genius man called Linus Torvaldz. Everything else in this operating environment is kind of up for grabs. Hell, the kernel is even designed in such a way that outsiders can build modules that extend the functionality of the Linux kernel. And that can be done by anybody. And if it works, it works super duper. Good luck. Now, one thing that doing something like that completely off the reservation is if it doesn’t get that mainstream support by Linus and the kernel maintainers, as I said before, there’s no guarantees that things will work forever, you will have to do a lot more work, et cetera, et cetera. The point is, it’s possible, and it has always been possible.

[00:08:44.900] Chris: And that freedom has enabled all kinds of strange little genius mans to do odball things that caught on and became mainstream.

[00:08:55.780] Ned: Right? It allows people to experiment with an idea and then if other people glom onto that idea and it gains enough support in the community, then it could be part of the mainstream kernel. If not, it just continues to be a pet project for somebody or just becomes irrelevant.

[00:09:14.690] Chris: Right? Exactly right. And to be clear, there are levels of Windows where this kind of freedom does exist. There will be a lot of comparing and contrasting between Windows and Linux, as there always is. But in terms of just this idea, people of a certain age and a certain system administration persuasion might remember a little Windows project called Sys Internals.

[00:09:43.270] Ned: Oh yeah, the good old days still.

[00:09:47.950] Chris: Maintained emphasis on old. So some dude was out there in the world fed up with the difficulty of getting advanced performance and configuration information out of Windows, especially on the server side in the enterprise space and was just like f, all this noise and he made his own. There were tons of miniature utilities in the Sys Internals package, 15 of them maybe.

[00:10:18.390] Ned: Yeah, they’re definitely a lot.

[00:10:21.430] Chris: And they were all awesome.

[00:10:24.310] Ned: Indeed. And the guy who wrote Sys Internals is Mark Grsinovich, who now works for Microsoft and has since 2006 ish I want to say he’s in charge of a lot of the Azure stuff at this point, but he still maintains Sys internals to a certain degree and brings it up pretty much at every conference.

[00:10:45.960] Chris: That he talks at, which honestly can’t say, blame him.

[00:10:50.610] Ned: Yeah, you did one good thing and then you joined Microsoft. So I guess just keep harping on that one good thing, right?

[00:10:58.020] Chris: Which, I mean, that is one of the things that does distinguish Linux versus Windows. Sys Internals was so good and Microsoft had nothing that could compete with it, that they just bought him.

[00:11:09.480] Ned: Yep.

[00:11:11.030] Chris: And now it’s part of Windows. More or everybody wins in that situation, probably especially Mark and his bank account.

[00:11:21.840] Ned: Oh yes, he’s quite wealthy.

[00:11:25.930] Chris: But anyway, imagine that kind of freedom to innovate but without guardrails, meaning literally anywhere in the Linux operating environment. That is what Linux means when they say that it is an open environment. So when Linux first came out back in 1992, which for anybody keeping score at home is 500 years ago, yes, it came out with a file system because of course it did.

[00:12:03.080] Ned: I mean, you kind of need a file system to run an operating system.

[00:12:07.370] Chris: Usually a file system and a kernel are the two core pieces of an operating system. It doesn’t matter what computer you’re talking about, you’ve got those two things. When it came out in 1992, I believe it was Linux version zero 95 or something, a minor dot revision. It came out using the minix file system that’s capital letters M-I-N-I-X. You don’t have to know or care what that is. Just know that Linus, crazy little genius man that he is, wrote the Linux kernel. But he didn’t know jack about file systems, so he just used one that was available, one that already existed. And incidentally, I think this is one of the key reasons for Linux being as open as it is at the time. Linus knew his limitations. He didn’t have a choice. He couldn’t write a file system. So he had to build his kernel in a way that supported another one. Now, as time has gone on, it doesn’t seem that Linus always knows his limitations.

[00:13:20.830] Ned: Fair.

[00:13:21.620] Chris: But I think it’s safe to say that he nailed it on this file system situation by not trying to write his own. Now this was a dot release, which means all of this stuff was beta or alpha or gamora or some Greek letter. That’s very difficult.

[00:13:41.270] Ned: Epsilon upsilon.

[00:13:46.250] Chris: Nice.

[00:13:47.040] Ned: Thanks.

[00:13:49.130] Chris: Somewhere out there in the world was another weirdo ninja genius named Remy Card, and he was watching the Linux development with interest. But he had a different set of skills and he wrote a much gooder file system technical term that was aimed directly at Linux called Ext, stands for Extended File system. And it’s called that because it greatly improved on what the minix file system did. Side question why didn’t they call it EFS, you might be asking. Well, frankly, I don’t like your tone and now I’m not going to tell you.

[00:14:34.230] Ned: I suspect it’s because X is cool and that’s the size of it is.

[00:14:40.120] Chris: Going to give it to you now Remy, very quickly, within about 18 months supplanted ext with ext two. But remember, this is the point that I want to continue to harp on. The cool thing about Linux was you could use whatever file system you wanted if you didn’t like Ext. Two, you didn’t have to upgrade to it if you didn’t like Ext at all, you could run Minix. No big deal. Now interestingly, this was still kind of the case on the Windows side because remember, a lot of things were in flux before Windows 95 came out and everything got locked down forever. 1992 was the release of Windows 3.1, which milestone in redmond and admittedly changed everything for Microsoft. But Windows 3.1 ran on top of Dos.

[00:15:38.490] Ned: Yeah, it would boot to Dos first and then you had to launch Windows from there and you could automate that. But it did need to load in that order.

[00:15:48.030] Chris: Right? And the wild thing about that time in technology is you could run multiple different kinds of Dos. People interested in tech’s history will probably know that Dos was not developed by Microsoft. It was purchased. It was then greatly developed after the fact. But there were multiple flavors of Dos available to the end user. Ms Dos at the time still dominated, but there was also PC Dos from IBM and my personal favorite, Dr Dos from Digital Research. They could all run Windows 3.1 in the methodology that you just talked about and they also had slightly different file system capabilities. Now, obviously, Windows 3.1 encouraged Microsoft Dos, but at this time you still had at least a little bit of flexibility depending on what you were trying to accomplish. Now this all went away with Windows 95. Oh yeah, all of this was baked in. You ran what Microsoft gave you and you were happy about it. Now Microsoft has done file system updates and upgrades and the like over time. It has been a long, long while since we’ve had to deal with the whole eight characters, then a period, then three characters. Hard limitation on file naming though its.

[00:17:18.670] Ned: Artifacts can be seen all over Windows if you know where to look.

[00:17:23.870] Chris: There’s a lot of Tildas in real file names.

[00:17:26.310] Ned: Yes, there are.

[00:17:29.550] Chris: So this was Fat, then became Fat 32, then became NTFS, et cetera, et cetera. This was all dictated to you. However, depending on the product that you installed. NTFS famously came with windows. Nt eventually became the core file system for all Windows products, has been updated, upgraded along the way, feature sets, what have you. You used what Redmond’s got and you like it.

[00:18:02.570] Ned: Yeah. There’s another one and I don’t know if you’re going to bring it up, but they had one called Refs or Resilient File System. That has been sort of the redheaded stepchild of the file systems. It is supposedly good for very specific workloads in very specific conditions, but at all other times NTFS is what is assumed for your file systems on any modern Windows operating system.

[00:18:29.280] Chris: Right. And they’ve also tried and failed to replace NTFS a couple of times over the years. That’s not the only project. I can’t remember the names of them. I want to say one was called Advanced File System, but that might be in Linux as well. But the point is, if you wanted a different file system, you best expect that you’re going to end up having to run OS Two warp. Oh, my God, I’m so old.

[00:18:50.440] Ned: Yeah, you are.

[00:18:52.970] Chris: So, yeah. Just to be excessively parenthetical as Ned just alluded to, I know that it is possible not only to run different file systems, but also hack the bootloader to make Windows boot off of something that’s not in TFS. But ain’t nobody got time for that, especially Microsoft technical support.

[00:19:11.330] Ned: Correct?

[00:19:12.180] Chris: Let’s just say that’s frowned upon.

[00:19:15.010] Ned: Yeah.

[00:19:16.050] Chris: So, anyway, back in the Linux world, ext Two was the standard for a few years, eventually being replaced with the legendary Ext Three. And I don’t say that lightly. Ext Three was the standard for, like, 15 years, which is bananas, but it still wasn’t the only game in town. This time period finally brings us to the topic at hand. Riser FS. That was created by Paul Reiser. No, wait, that’s not right.

[00:19:48.560] Ned: Nope.

[00:19:48.900] Chris: Hans?

[00:19:49.350] Ned: Nope.

[00:19:50.310] Chris: Hans Reiser.

[00:19:53.470] Ned: Wasn’t he in Diehard?

[00:19:57.790] Chris: Hans Reiser was a computer programmer for hire in the San Francisco area. He observed what was going on with Ext Two and Ext Three with interest, and noticed that there were opportunities for improvement. I’m not going to talk about a lot of them because it will get into some incredibly arcane technical stuff that we don’t have time for. And I don’t have a whiteboard fair. Ext Two, for example, was prone to catastrophic corruption if the system crashed or lost power while the data was being written to disk. This is less than ideal.

[00:20:37.130] Ned: I would say so, yeah.

[00:20:38.660] Chris: If anybody knows anything about databases, they probably know how this was solved. It was solved by journaling. You write down what the transaction is. If the system crashes before that transaction log is written, then the transaction is completely thrown away, which means that half written data is not a thing. This type of journaling was introduced in Ext Three, which is one of the reasons it became as popular as it did. Hans Reiser saw this happening, saw the improvement, and thought that it should still be able to do more. A lot of what he did is involved in how metadata in the file system is managed and handled, and it changes the way that it deals with particularly small files, and particularly a lot of small files. And by a lot, I mean millions to billions.

[00:21:33.950] Ned: That’s a lot of small files. Dang. Why would I have so many small files?

[00:21:38.660] Chris: Shut up. So he founded his own company, called Namesys, and in 2001, he released the first version of Riser FS. Why didn’t he call it RFS or even Namesys? FS. Because he’s an unhinged narcissist.

[00:21:59.270] Ned: Oh.

[00:22:00.250] Chris: More on that later. Okay, so like I said, the hows and whys of why Riser FS’s technology was better and the use cases that made it a standout. They’re not super important for what we’re trying to talk about, just know that they exist. They have existed for a while. Like I said, this was created in 2001. It’s only being obsoleted now. But if it’s so great, why is it being obsoleted? Well, this is where things start to get weird. A lot of things happen in about a three year time frame starting in 2005. So I’m going to try to summarize as best as I can. Riser FS continued to release versions, all still called Riser FS up until version 3.6 in 2008. Work on this file system called Riser FS stopped in 2008 for reasons. These reasons also caused Namesys the company to go bankrupt. Now, simultaneous to the work that had been going on on Riser FS was a full rewrite which was being developed in parallel by Namesys confusingly called Riser Four.

[00:23:29.010] Ned: Not riser FS four.

[00:23:31.080] Chris: Correct riser four.

[00:23:34.470] Ned: Okay.

[00:23:35.510] Chris: And eventually, which now we’re doing a huge fast forward, the current version, Riser Five, remember Namesys went out of business. This all has been continually driven by a former Namesys developer named Edward Shishkin. The names are incredibly similar and for reasons that are effing mystifying to me. More on that later. Why would you have two very different file systems, one called Riser FS and one called Riser Four?

[00:24:10.530] Ned: I don’t know, I think maybe because familiarity, people go, oh well, I’ve heard of Riser FS, so I recognize Riser as a file system, one that I might trust and so Riser Four might keep to instill that trust. But why drop the FS and add a number? People are weird, man.

[00:24:33.270] Chris: Especially since you can’t do a smooth upgrade from Riser FS to Riser Four. It requires a full reformat that’s a little different. Yeah, incidentally, just to be clear, so Riser Four, Riser Five completely separate product, riser FS is the one that is being obsoleted in Linux and will likely not be a baked in option anywhere after 2025. Riser four and Riser Five are current modern projects. They have never gotten the mainstream support that Riser FS did anyway. So they can’t be obsoleted because they weren’t mainstreamed in the first place.

[00:25:12.130] Ned: Fair.

[00:25:13.830] Chris: So just keep that in mind. Now let’s get back to riser. FS. Mainstream support for Riser FS is going away. Mainstream support for riser four and five never existed. People can still run Riser FS if they want to, even after this. It will just require more steps. That is the exact same situation that people running Riser Four Five are in. Now for certain extreme edge cases, it may well be that Riser FS, a file system that has not been actively developed since 2008, might actually still be best. Now these are extreme small scale edge cases, probably IoT devices or something along those lines. But if you need to handle huge numbers of very tiny files, that’s the kind of thing that Riser excels at and might bring Extinode tables to their mm hmm. So that’s the story of Riser FS, the technology and file systems in general. In the Linux universe. There are a million other file systems out there for Linux that can be used. Some mainstream supported, some not names that people might have heard of. And this is not at all an all inclusive list. There is now Ext Four. There is now XFS, which is EXT’s spiritual successor.

[00:26:53.820] Chris: It does not appear that we will ever get an Ext Five. There is ZFS, which is the hottest hot shit and is unfortunately largely controlled by Oracle.

[00:27:05.690] Ned: Oh, that was what’s shipped with Solaris, right? Solaris was what created CFS.

[00:27:12.470] Chris: Correct. You can use it, but there’s always conditions.

[00:27:20.030] Ned: Always.

[00:27:21.870] Chris: There is also Btrfs, which apparently is supposed to be pronounced better FS. Get it?

[00:27:29.390] Ned: Wow.

[00:27:32.050] Chris: That is expected to be the default for Fedora 33 going forward. The Riser variants are still available. There is the Hammer Two file system, which is just a badass name.

[00:27:45.590] Ned: I want that one.

[00:27:47.990] Chris: Oh my God, it gets so much crazier after this. There actually is a JFS, there’s a Jffs, there’s a Bcash FS, there’s a BBQ FS, a blah blah, blah, FS, an, etc. You get the idea.

[00:27:59.450] Ned: I think I might.

[00:28:00.810] Chris: Most of those were real.

[00:28:04.650] Ned: I hope BBQ FS was real out of all those.

[00:28:07.770] Chris: Sounds delicious.

[00:28:09.790] Ned: It does.

[00:28:11.630] Chris: So just to close the loop on this, some of them are mainstream, some of them are not. If you want to use a non mainstream or mainlined supported file system, you can, but you won’t be able to get much support. You certainly won’t get it from the kernel team. Now, you might not need it if this is a one and done installation for very specific use cases, but if you’re an end user, or if you have any doubts about any of this at all, you’re not going to care about Riser FS. You’re just going to hit next, next finish, install whatever is the default for your distribution. And you know what? It’s going to be fine. Yeah, but also remember that no file system is a substitute for a robust backup solution. Yeah, so, yeah, that’s pretty much the story. It was an interesting one. I mean, it’s a lot of technology and that’s all I had to say. So I think we can probably go ahead and end the what?

[00:29:23.190] Ned: Yeah. Do you think that’s all?

[00:29:27.800] Chris: Why are you looking at me like.

[00:29:28.790] Ned: No other reason to talk about this file system at all? Nothing interesting.

[00:29:35.050] Chris: Fine, let’s talk about the unpleasantness.

[00:29:40.890] Ned: There’s got to be a reason Riser FS was abandoned, shot to stardom, and.

[00:29:46.840] Chris: Then disappeared completely around 2008.

[00:29:50.030] Ned: Yes.

[00:29:51.950] Chris: Okay, so there were some things I left out of the timeline also in the 2005 to 2008 area. And, well, there’s no gentle way to put it. What happened was Hans Reiser murdered his wife and tried to cover it up extraordinarily poorly. So Hans Reiser got a mail order bride in 1998. Her name was Nina Sharonova, and she was an OBGYN in Russia and looking to move to America. It’s a song as old as time. When Namesys was created. For some reason, Hans decided to name her CFO. Okay, this caused a lot of discord, but it seemed that discord was another language that Hans was quite familiar with, as we will see. Okay, by 2004, the Risers, who had two children at the time, were separated, and Nina filed for divorce. So this is just a lot of weirdness, but probably not that far out of the ordinary. Sadly, things got worse. Nina filed a restraining order against Hans after he started to get violent, both publicly and privately. After the divorce, this behavior increased as Hans tried more and more to control Nina while simultaneously not paying childcare expenses. Cool guy. Yeah, there were multiple witnesses who saw them loudly arguing all through this time period in all kinds of public places, including doctors’offices, where Hans once accused Nina of getting the children sick on purpose to leech him of money.

[00:31:48.130] Ned: Yeah, because mothers do that with their children.

[00:31:52.470] Chris: In September of 2006, Nina disappeared. Later on, after a lot of suspicious and easily observed behavior by Hans, including Homeland Security investigating him for money laundering, he was arrested on suspicion of murder and promptly unraveled. The police found evidence of Reiser purchasing books on homicide investigation, including and I swear to God I’m not making this up homicide by David Simon.

[00:32:25.470] Ned: He was just trying to RTFM.

[00:32:29.310] Chris: Yeah, it wasn’t a how to manual. The forensic evidence against Hans kept piling up, including himself, accidentally implicating himself by being an unhinged weirdo. And long story short, he was convicted, and in order to get a lesser sentence, he eventually confessed. He entered prison in September of 2008 with a sentence of 15 to life, thus causing all of the corporate actions that eventually led to Namesis being dissolved. Now, as is tradition, he immediately began filing frivolous motion after frivolous motion, accusing everybody, including his own counsel and the judge in the case of conspiring against him, all unsuccessful and dismissed with prejudice.

[00:33:27.330] Ned: Yay.

[00:33:28.140] Chris: Which doesn’t happen that often, even though it should. As of today, he is still in prison with his next parole hearing in August of 2027. Let’s go ahead and make an early prediction that it will once again be.

[00:33:43.260] Ned: Denied, as it probably should be.

[00:33:47.690] Chris: So that’s the Hans story. It’s a disturbing one, certainly. And yeah, at this point, Edward Shishkin does continue to develop actively on Riser Four and Riser Five, so he seems to be very dedicated to the project for reasons.

[00:34:10.210] Ned: It’s very strange behavior for someone. I mean, he is writing a file system, so, I mean, strange is the normal, right? But still, I find it odd.

[00:34:24.390] Chris: And I still find it odder that it’s still, even now, 20 OD years later, still called Riser Four and Riser Five, why not call it Shishkin FS? So I’ve done a bit of research and have not come up with a great answer. But to your point at the top, the best we can find is that he just thought it would be better for continuity. Riser FS was known for X, Y, and Z, features and performance, and a philosophy of file system design. You call the next one, even though it is completely separate and a total rewrite the same name for continuity’s sake. Sure. I guess I still don’t see why, after 1520 years, you had to stick with it. Couldn’t you just call it literally anything else and just for a few years, say, formerly Riser Four N Five?

[00:35:25.370] Ned: It seems pretty straightforward, like you could just do that. And if your file system is really that good, then people don’t really care that you change the name.

[00:35:38.730] Chris: Right. And I don’t want to say, because I’m not on any of these boards and I didn’t have any insight whatsoever, I don’t want to say that one of the reasons that Riser Four and Five never got mainstream support was that it’s got the name of an unhinged murderer in the file system’s name. But I don’t think that it helps.

[00:35:59.970] Ned: No. Anybody who said that all press is good press, this is one case where that is definitely not true.

[00:36:09.350] Chris: Right.

[00:36:13.030] Ned: Well, hey, that was kind of a downer, but thanks for listening or something. I guess you found it worthwhile enough if you made it all the way to the end. So congratulations to you, friend. You’ve accomplished something today. Now you can smile earnestly at a flower like a confused bumblebee. You’ve earned it. You can find more about the show by visiting our LinkedIn page. Just search chaoslever, or go to our website,, where you’ll find show notes, blog posts, general Tom Foolery, and the sign up for our newsletter. We’ll be back next week to see what fresh hell is upon us. Ta ta for now. There’s really no redemption there, is there?

[00:36:48.320] Chris: Not so much. No.

[00:36:53.090] Ned: This would not make a good Lifetime movie.

[00:36:56.850] Chris: I believe it’s actually already been made.

[00:36:58.530] Ned: Into a Lifetime movie, hasn’t everything?

[00:37:02.150] Chris: But you did say good.

Show Notes

ReiserFS In Decline

Episode: 74 Published: 9/19/2023

ReiserFS filesystem is being deprecated in Linux – wait… explain all of those words to me

Well, ok, it’s not deprecated yet. It’s been marked “obsolete.” And it’s the end of a crazy tale that is a lot about technology in the early phases of Linux becoming mainstream, and also a liiiiiiiittle bit about, well. Let’s just say that there was some ‘unpleasantness’ surrounding the namesake of the filesystem that greatly contributed to its downfall. But we’ll get to that.

Intro and outro music by James Bellavance copyright 2022


Chris Hayner

Chris Hayner (He/Him)

Our story starts with a young Chris growing up in the agrarian community of Central New Jersey. Son of an eccentric sheep herder, Chris’ early life was that of toil and misery. When he wasn’t pressing cheese for his father’s failing upscale Fromage emporium, he languished on a meager diet of Dinty Moore and boiled socks. His teenage years introduced new wrinkles in an already beleaguered existence with the arrival of an Atari 2600. While at first it seemed a blessed distraction from milking ornery sheep, Chris fell victim to an obsession with achieving the perfect Pitfall game. Hours spent in the grips of Indiana Jones-esque adventure warped poor Chris’ mind and brought him to the maw of madness. It was at that moment he met our hero, Ned Bellavance, who shepherded him along a path of freedom out of his feverish, vine-filled hellscape. To this day Chris is haunted by visions of alligator jaws snapping shut, but with the help of Ned, he freed himself from the confines of Atari obsession to become a somewhat productive member of society. You can find Chris at coin operated laundromats, lecturing ironing boards for being itinerant. And as the cohost on the Chaos Lever podcast.

Ned Bellavance

Ned Bellavance (He/Him)

Ned is an industry veteran with piercing blue eyes, an indomitable spirit, and the thick hair of someone half his age. He is the founder and sole employee of the ludicrously successful Ned in the Cloud LLC, which has rocked the tech world with its meteoric rise in power and prestige. You can find Ned and his company at the most lavish and exclusive tech events, or at least in theory you could, since you wouldn’t actually be allowed into such hallowed circles. When Ned isn’t sailing on his 500 ft. yacht with Sir Richard Branson or volunteering at a local youth steeplechase charity, you can find him doing charity work of another kind, cohosting the Chaos Lever podcast with Chris Hayner. Really, he’s doing Chris a huge favor by even showing up. You should feel grateful Chris. Oaths of fealty, acts of contrition, and tokens of appreciation may be sent via carrier pigeon to his palatial estate on the Isle of Man.