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DwarFS

A fast high compression read-only file system

Table of contents

Overview

Alt text

DwarFS is a read-only file system with a focus on achieving very high compression ratios in particular for very redundant data.

This probably doesn't sound very exciting, because if it's redundant, it should compress well. However, I found that other read-only, compressed file systems don't do a very good job at making use of this redundancy. See here for a comparison with other compressed file systems.

DwarFS also doesn't compromise on speed and for my use cases I've found it to be on par with or perform better than SquashFS. For my primary use case, DwarFS compression is an order of magnitude better than SquashFS compression, it's 6 times faster to build the file system, it's typically faster to access files on DwarFS and it uses less CPU resources.

Distinct features of DwarFS are:

  • Clustering of files by similarity using a similarity hash function. This makes it easier to exploit the redundancy across file boundaries.

  • Segmentation analysis across file system blocks in order to reduce the size of the uncompressed file system. This saves memory when using the compressed file system and thus potentially allows for higher cache hit rates as more data can be kept in the cache.

  • Highly multi-threaded implementation. Both the file system creation tool as well as the FUSE driver are able to make good use of the many cores of your system.

  • Optional experimental Python scripting support to provide custom filtering and ordering functionality.

History

I started working on DwarFS in 2013 and my main use case and major motivation was that I had several hundred different versions of Perl that were taking up something around 30 gigabytes of disk space, and I was unwilling to spend more than 10% of my hard drive keeping them around for when I happened to need them.

Up until then, I had been using Cromfs for squeezing them into a manageable size. However, I was getting more and more annoyed by the time it took to build the filesystem image and, to make things worse, more often than not it was crashing after about an hour or so.

I had obviously also looked into SquashFS, but never got anywhere close to the compression rates of Cromfs.

This alone wouldn't have been enough to get me into writing DwarFS, but at around the same time, I was pretty obsessed with the recent developments and features of newer C++ standards and really wanted a C++ hobby project to work on. Also, I've wanted to do something with FUSE for quite some time. Last but not least, I had been thinking about the problem of compressed file systems for a bit and had some ideas that I definitely wanted to try.

The majority of the code was written in 2013, then I did a couple of cleanups, bugfixes and refactors every once in a while, but I never really got it to a state where I would feel happy releasing it. It was too awkward to build with its dependency on Facebook's (quite awesome) folly library and it didn't have any documentation.

Digging out the project again this year, things didn't look as grim as they used to. Folly now builds with CMake and so I just pulled it in as a submodule. Most other dependencies can be satisfied from packages that should be widely available. And I've written some rudimentary docs as well.

Building and Installing

Dependencies

DwarFS uses CMake as a build tool.

It uses both Boost and Folly, though the latter is included as a submodule since very few distributions actually offer packages for it. Folly itself has a number of dependencies, so please check here for an up-to-date list.

It also uses Facebook Thrift, in particular the frozen library, for storing metadata in a highly space-efficient, memory-mappable and well defined format. It's also included as a submodule, and we only build the compiler and a very reduced library that contains just enough for DwarFS to work.

Other than that, DwarFS really only depends on FUSE3 and on a set of compression libraries that Folly already depends on (namely lz4, zstd and liblzma).

The dependency on googletest will be automatically resolved if you build with tests.

A good starting point for apt-based systems is probably:

$ apt install \
    g++ \
    clang \
    cmake \
    make \
    bison \
    flex \
    ronn \
    fuse3 \
    pkg-config \
    binutils-dev \
    libarchive-dev \
    libboost-context-dev \
    libboost-filesystem-dev \
    libboost-program-options-dev \
    libboost-python-dev \
    libboost-regex-dev \
    libboost-system-dev \
    libboost-thread-dev \
    libevent-dev \
    libjemalloc-dev \
    libdouble-conversion-dev \
    libiberty-dev \
    liblz4-dev \
    liblzma-dev \
    libssl-dev \
    libunwind-dev \
    libdwarf-dev \
    libelf-dev \
    libfmt-dev \
    libfuse3-dev \
    libgoogle-glog-dev

Note that when building with gcc, the optimization level will be set to -O2 instead of the CMake default of -O3 for release builds. At least with versions up to gcc-10, the -O3 build is up to 70% slower than a build with -O2.

Building

Firstly, either clone the repository...

$ git clone --recurse-submodules https://github.com/mhx/dwarfs
$ cd dwarfs

...or unpack the release archive:

$ tar xvf dwarfs-x.y.z.tar.bz2
$ cd dwarfs-x.y.z

Once all dependencies have been installed, you can build DwarFS using:

$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ cmake .. -DWITH_TESTS=1
$ make -j$(nproc)

You can then run tests with:

$ make test

All binaries use jemalloc as a memory allocator by default, as it is typically uses much less system memory compared to the glibc or tcmalloc allocators. To disable the use of jemalloc, pass -DUSE_JEMALLOC=0 on the cmake command line.

Installing

Installing is as easy as:

$ sudo make install

Though you don't have to install the tools to play with them.

Experimental Python Scripting Support

You can build mkdwarfs with experimental support for Python scripting:

$ cmake .. -DWITH_TESTS=1 -DWITH_PYTHON=1

This also requires Boost.Python. If you have multiple Python versions installed, you can explicitly specify the version to build against:

$ cmake .. -DWITH_TESTS=1 -DWITH_PYTHON=1 -DWITH_PYTHON_VERSION=3.8

Note that only Python 3 is supported. You can take a look at scripts/example.py to get an idea for what can currently be done with the interface.

Usage

Please check out the man pages for mkdwarfs, dwarfs, dwarfsck and dwarfsextract.

The dwarfs man page also shows an example for setting up DwarFS with overlayfs in order to create a writable file system mount on top a read-only DwarFS image.

A description of the DwarFS filesystem format can be found in dwarfs-format.

Comparison

The SquashFS, xz, lrzip, zpaq and wimlib tests were all done on an 8 core Intel(R) Xeon(R) E-2286M CPU @ 2.40GHz with 64 GiB of RAM.

The Cromfs and EROFS tests were done with an older version of DwarFS on a 6 core Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU D-1528 @ 1.90GHz with 64 GiB of RAM.

The systems were mostly idle during all of the tests.

With SquashFS

The source directory contained 1139 different Perl installations from 284 distinct releases, a total of 47.65 GiB of data in 1,927,501 files and 330,733 directories. The source directory was freshly unpacked from a tar archive to an XFS partition on a 970 EVO Plus 2TB NVME drive, so most of its contents were likely cached.

I'm using the same compression type and compression level for SquashFS that is the default setting for DwarFS:

$ time mksquashfs install perl-install.squashfs -comp zstd -Xcompression-level 22
Parallel mksquashfs: Using 16 processors
Creating 4.0 filesystem on perl-install-zstd.squashfs, block size 131072.
[=========================================================/] 2107401/2107401 100%

Exportable Squashfs 4.0 filesystem, zstd compressed, data block size 131072
        compressed data, compressed metadata, compressed fragments,
        compressed xattrs, compressed ids
        duplicates are removed
Filesystem size 4637597.63 Kbytes (4528.90 Mbytes)
        9.29% of uncompressed filesystem size (49922299.04 Kbytes)
Inode table size 19100802 bytes (18653.13 Kbytes)
        26.06% of uncompressed inode table size (73307702 bytes)
Directory table size 19128340 bytes (18680.02 Kbytes)
        46.28% of uncompressed directory table size (41335540 bytes)
Number of duplicate files found 1780387
Number of inodes 2255794
Number of files 1925061
Number of fragments 28713
Number of symbolic links  0
Number of device nodes 0
Number of fifo nodes 0
Number of socket nodes 0
Number of directories 330733
Number of ids (unique uids + gids) 2
Number of uids 1
        mhx (1000)
Number of gids 1
        users (100)

real    32m54.713s
user    501m46.382s
sys     0m58.528s

For DwarFS, I'm sticking to the defaults:

$ time mkdwarfs -i install -o perl-install.dwarfs
I 11:33:33.310931 scanning install
I 11:33:39.026712 waiting for background scanners...
I 11:33:50.681305 assigning directory and link inodes...
I 11:33:50.888441 finding duplicate files...
I 11:34:01.120800 saved 28.2 GiB / 47.65 GiB in 1782826/1927501 duplicate files
I 11:34:01.122608 waiting for inode scanners...
I 11:34:12.839065 assigning device inodes...
I 11:34:12.875520 assigning pipe/socket inodes...
I 11:34:12.910431 building metadata...
I 11:34:12.910524 building blocks...
I 11:34:12.910594 saving names and links...
I 11:34:12.910691 bloom filter size: 32 KiB
I 11:34:12.910760 ordering 144675 inodes using nilsimsa similarity...
I 11:34:12.915555 nilsimsa: depth=20000 (1000), limit=255
I 11:34:13.052525 updating name and link indices...
I 11:34:13.276233 pre-sorted index (660176 name, 366179 path lookups) [360.6ms]
I 11:35:44.039375 144675 inodes ordered [91.13s]
I 11:35:44.041427 waiting for segmenting/blockifying to finish...
I 11:37:38.823902 bloom filter reject rate: 96.017% (TPR=0.244%, lookups=4740563665)
I 11:37:38.823963 segmentation matches: good=454708, bad=6819, total=464247
I 11:37:38.824005 segmentation collisions: L1=0.008%, L2=0.000% [2233254 hashes]
I 11:37:38.824038 saving chunks...
I 11:37:38.860939 saving directories...
I 11:37:41.318747 waiting for compression to finish...
I 11:38:56.046809 compressed 47.65 GiB to 430.9 MiB (ratio=0.00883101)
I 11:38:56.304922 filesystem created without errors [323s]
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
waiting for block compression to finish
330733 dirs, 0/2440 soft/hard links, 1927501/1927501 files, 0 other
original size: 47.65 GiB, dedupe: 28.2 GiB (1782826 files), segment: 15.19 GiB
filesystem: 4.261 GiB in 273 blocks (319178 chunks, 144675/144675 inodes)
compressed filesystem: 273 blocks/430.9 MiB written [depth: 20000]
█████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████▏100% |

real    5m23.030s
user    78m7.554s
sys     1m47.968s

So in this comparison, mkdwarfs is more than 6 times faster than mksquashfs, both in terms of CPU time and wall clock time.

$ ll perl-install.*fs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users  447230618 Mar  3 20:28 perl-install.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 4748902400 Mar  3 20:10 perl-install.squashfs

In terms of compression ratio, the DwarFS file system is more than 10 times smaller than the SquashFS file system. With DwarFS, the content has been compressed down to less than 0.9% (!) of its original size. This compression ratio only considers the data stored in the individual files, not the actual disk space used. On the original XFS file system, according to du, the source folder uses 52 GiB, so the DwarFS image actually only uses 0.8% of the original space.

Here's another comparison using lzma compression instead of zstd:

$ time mksquashfs install perl-install-lzma.squashfs -comp lzma

real    13m42.825s
user    205m40.851s
sys     3m29.088s

$ time mkdwarfs -i install -o perl-install-lzma.dwarfs -l9

real    3m43.937s
user    49m45.295s
sys     1m44.550s

$ ll perl-install-lzma.*fs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users  315482627 Mar  3 21:23 perl-install-lzma.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 3838406656 Mar  3 20:50 perl-install-lzma.squashfs

It's immediately obvious that the runs are significantly faster and the resulting images are significantly smaller. Still, mkdwarfs is about 4 times faster and produces and image that's 12 times smaller than the SquashFS image. The DwarFS image is only 0.6% of the original file size.

So why not use lzma instead of zstd by default? The reason is that lzma is about an order of magnitude slower to decompress than zstd. If you're only accessing data on your compressed filesystem occasionally, this might not be a big deal, but if you use it extensively, zstd will result in better performance.

The comparisons above are not completely fair. mksquashfs by default uses a block size of 128KiB, whereas mkdwarfs uses 16MiB blocks by default, or even 64MiB blocks with -l9. When using identical block sizes for both file systems, the difference, quite expectedly, becomes a lot less dramatic:

$ time mksquashfs install perl-install-lzma-1M.squashfs -comp lzma -b 1M

real    15m43.319s
user    139m24.533s
sys     0m45.132s

$ time mkdwarfs -i install -o perl-install-lzma-1M.dwarfs -l9 -S20 -B3

real    4m25.973s
user    52m15.100s
sys     7m41.889s

$ ll perl-install*.*fs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users  935953866 Mar 13 12:12 perl-install-lzma-1M.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 3407474688 Mar  3 21:54 perl-install-lzma-1M.squashfs

Even this is still not entirely fair, as it uses a feature (-B3) that allows DwarFS to reference file chunks from up to two previous filesystem blocks.

But the point is that this is really where SquashFS tops out, as it doesn't support larger block sizes or back-referencing. And as you'll see below, the larger blocks that DwarFS is using by default don't necessarily negatively impact performance.

DwarFS also features an option to recompress an existing file system with a different compression algorithm. This can be useful as it allows relatively fast experimentation with different algorithms and options without requiring a full rebuild of the file system. For example, recompressing the above file system with the best possible compression (-l 9):

$ time mkdwarfs --recompress -i perl-install.dwarfs -o perl-lzma-re.dwarfs -l9
I 20:28:03.246534 filesystem rewrittenwithout errors [148.3s]
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
filesystem: 4.261 GiB in 273 blocks (0 chunks, 0 inodes)
compressed filesystem: 273/273 blocks/372.7 MiB written
████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████▏100% \

real    2m28.279s
user    37m8.825s
sys     0m43.256s

$ ll perl-*.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 447230618 Mar  3 20:28 perl-install.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 390845518 Mar  4 20:28 perl-lzma-re.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 315482627 Mar  3 21:23 perl-install-lzma.dwarfs

Note that while the recompressed filesystem is smaller than the original image, it is still a lot bigger than the filesystem we previously build with -l9. The reason is that the recompressed image still uses the same block size, and the block size cannot be changed by recompressing.

In terms of how fast the file system is when using it, a quick test I've done is to freshly mount the filesystem created above and run each of the 1139 perl executables to print their version.

$ hyperfine -c "umount mnt" -p "umount mnt; dwarfs perl-install.dwarfs mnt -o cachesize=1g -o workers=4; sleep 1" -P procs 5 20 -D 5 "ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P{procs} sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'"
Benchmark #1: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P5 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):      1.810 s ±  0.013 s    [User: 1.847 s, System: 0.623 s]
  Range (min … max):    1.788 s …  1.825 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #2: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P10 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):      1.333 s ±  0.009 s    [User: 1.993 s, System: 0.656 s]
  Range (min … max):    1.321 s …  1.354 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #3: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P15 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):      1.181 s ±  0.018 s    [User: 2.086 s, System: 0.712 s]
  Range (min … max):    1.165 s …  1.214 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #4: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):      1.149 s ±  0.015 s    [User: 2.128 s, System: 0.781 s]
  Range (min … max):    1.136 s …  1.186 s    10 runs

These timings are for initial runs on a freshly mounted file system, running 5, 10, 15 and 20 processes in parallel. 1.1 seconds means that it takes only about 1 millisecond per Perl binary.

Following are timings for subsequent runs, both on DwarFS (at mnt) and the original XFS (at install). DwarFS is around 15% slower here:

$ hyperfine -P procs 10 20 -D 10 -w1 "ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P{procs} sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'" "ls -1 install/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P{procs} sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'"
Benchmark #1: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P10 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):     347.0 ms ±   7.2 ms    [User: 1.755 s, System: 0.452 s]
  Range (min … max):   341.3 ms … 365.2 ms    10 runs
 
Benchmark #2: ls -1 install/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P10 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):     302.5 ms ±   3.3 ms    [User: 1.656 s, System: 0.377 s]
  Range (min … max):   297.1 ms … 308.7 ms    10 runs
 
Benchmark #3: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):     342.2 ms ±   4.1 ms    [User: 1.766 s, System: 0.451 s]
  Range (min … max):   336.0 ms … 349.7 ms    10 runs
 
Benchmark #4: ls -1 install/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):     302.0 ms ±   3.0 ms    [User: 1.659 s, System: 0.374 s]
  Range (min … max):   297.0 ms … 305.4 ms    10 runs
 
Summary
  'ls -1 install/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'' ran
    1.00 ± 0.01 times faster than 'ls -1 install/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P10 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null''
    1.13 ± 0.02 times faster than 'ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null''
    1.15 ± 0.03 times faster than 'ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P10 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null''

Using the lzma-compressed file system, the metrics for initial runs look considerably worse (about an order of magnitude):

$ hyperfine -c "umount mnt" -p "umount mnt; dwarfs perl-install-lzma.dwarfs mnt -o cachesize=1g -o workers=4; sleep 1" -P procs 5 20 -D 5 "ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P{procs} sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'"
Benchmark #1: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P5 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):     10.660 s ±  0.057 s    [User: 1.952 s, System: 0.729 s]
  Range (min … max):   10.615 s … 10.811 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #2: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P10 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):      9.092 s ±  0.021 s    [User: 1.979 s, System: 0.680 s]
  Range (min … max):    9.059 s …  9.126 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #3: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P15 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):      9.012 s ±  0.188 s    [User: 2.077 s, System: 0.702 s]
  Range (min … max):    8.839 s …  9.277 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #4: ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '$0 -v >/dev/null'
  Time (mean ± σ):      9.004 s ±  0.298 s    [User: 2.134 s, System: 0.736 s]
  Range (min … max):    8.611 s …  9.555 s    10 runs

So you might want to consider using zstd instead of lzma if you'd like to optimize for file system performance. It's also the default compression used by mkdwarfs.

Now here's a comparison with the SquashFS filesystem:

$ hyperfine -c 'sudo umount mnt' -p 'umount mnt; dwarfs perl-install.dwarfs mnt -o cachesize=1g -o workers=4; sleep 1' -n dwarfs-zstd "ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'" -p 'sudo umount mnt; sudo mount -t squashfs perl-install.squashfs mnt; sleep 1' -n squashfs-zstd "ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'"
Benchmark #1: dwarfs-zstd
  Time (mean ± σ):      1.151 s ±  0.015 s    [User: 2.147 s, System: 0.769 s]
  Range (min … max):    1.118 s …  1.174 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #2: squashfs-zstd
  Time (mean ± σ):      6.733 s ±  0.007 s    [User: 3.188 s, System: 17.015 s]
  Range (min … max):    6.721 s …  6.743 s    10 runs
 
Summary
  'dwarfs-zstd' ran
    5.85 ± 0.08 times faster than 'squashfs-zstd'

So DwarFS is almost six times faster than SquashFS. But what's more, SquashFS also uses significantly more CPU power. However, the numbers shown above for DwarFS obviously don't include the time spent in the dwarfs process, so I repeated the test outside of hyperfine:

$ time dwarfs perl-install.dwarfs mnt -o cachesize=1g -o workers=4 -f

real    0m4.569s
user    0m2.154s
sys     0m1.846s

So in total, DwarFS was using 5.7 seconds of CPU time, whereas SquashFS was using 20.2 seconds, almost four times as much. Ignore the 'real' time, this is only how long it took me to unmount the file system again after mounting it.

Another real-life test was to build and test a Perl module with 624 different Perl versions in the compressed file system. The module I've used, Tie::Hash::Indexed, has an XS component that requires a C compiler to build. So this really accesses a lot of different stuff in the file system:

  • The perl executables and its shared libraries

  • The Perl modules used for writing the Makefile

  • Perl's C header files used for building the module

  • More Perl modules used for running the tests

I wrote a little script to be able to run multiple builds in parallel:

#!/bin/bash
set -eu
perl=$1
dir=$(echo "$perl" | cut -d/ --output-delimiter=- -f5,6)
rsync -a Tie-Hash-Indexed/ $dir/
cd $dir
$1 Makefile.PL >/dev/null 2>&1
make test >/dev/null 2>&1
cd ..
rm -rf $dir
echo $perl

The following command will run up to 16 builds in parallel on the 8 core Xeon CPU, including debug, optimized and threaded versions of all Perl releases between 5.10.0 and 5.33.3, a total of 624 perl installations:

$ time ls -1 /tmp/perl/install/*/perl-5.??.?/bin/perl5* | sort -t / -k 8 | xargs -d $'\n' -P 16 -n 1 ./build.sh

Tests were done with a cleanly mounted file system to make sure the caches were empty. ccache was primed to make sure all compiler runs could be satisfied from the cache. With SquashFS, the timing was:

real    0m52.385s
user    8m10.333s
sys     4m10.056s

And with DwarFS:

real    0m50.469s
user    9m22.597s
sys     1m18.469s

So, frankly, not much of a difference, with DwarFS being just a bit faster. The dwarfs process itself used:

real    0m56.686s
user    0m18.857s
sys     0m21.058s

So again, DwarFS used less raw CPU power overall, but in terms of wallclock time, the difference is really marginal.

With SquashFS & xz

This test uses slightly less pathological input data: the root filesystem of a recent Raspberry Pi OS release. This file system also contains device inodes, so in order to preserve those, we pass --with-devices to mkdwarfs:

$ time sudo mkdwarfs -i raspbian -o raspbian.dwarfs --with-devices
I 21:30:29.812562 scanning raspbian
I 21:30:29.908984 waiting for background scanners...
I 21:30:30.217446 assigning directory and link inodes...
I 21:30:30.221941 finding duplicate files...
I 21:30:30.288099 saved 31.05 MiB / 1007 MiB in 1617/34582 duplicate files
I 21:30:30.288143 waiting for inode scanners...
I 21:30:31.393710 assigning device inodes...
I 21:30:31.394481 assigning pipe/socket inodes...
I 21:30:31.395196 building metadata...
I 21:30:31.395230 building blocks...
I 21:30:31.395291 saving names and links...
I 21:30:31.395374 ordering 32965 inodes using nilsimsa similarity...
I 21:30:31.396254 nilsimsa: depth=20000 (1000), limit=255
I 21:30:31.407967 pre-sorted index (46431 name, 2206 path lookups) [11.66ms]
I 21:30:31.410089 updating name and link indices...
I 21:30:38.178505 32965 inodes ordered [6.783s]
I 21:30:38.179417 waiting for segmenting/blockifying to finish...
I 21:31:06.248304 saving chunks...
I 21:31:06.251998 saving directories...
I 21:31:06.402559 waiting for compression to finish...
I 21:31:16.425563 compressed 1007 MiB to 287 MiB (ratio=0.285036)
I 21:31:16.464772 filesystem created without errors [46.65s]
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
waiting for block compression to finish
4435 dirs, 5908/0 soft/hard links, 34582/34582 files, 7 other
original size: 1007 MiB, dedupe: 31.05 MiB (1617 files), segment: 47.23 MiB
filesystem: 928.4 MiB in 59 blocks (38890 chunks, 32965/32965 inodes)
compressed filesystem: 59 blocks/287 MiB written [depth: 20000]
████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████▏100% |

real    0m46.711s
user    10m39.038s
sys     0m8.123s

Again, SquashFS uses the same compression options:

$ time sudo mksquashfs raspbian raspbian.squashfs -comp zstd -Xcompression-level 22
Parallel mksquashfs: Using 16 processors
Creating 4.0 filesystem on raspbian.squashfs, block size 131072.
[===============================================================\] 39232/39232 100%

Exportable Squashfs 4.0 filesystem, zstd compressed, data block size 131072
        compressed data, compressed metadata, compressed fragments,
        compressed xattrs, compressed ids
        duplicates are removed
Filesystem size 371934.50 Kbytes (363.22 Mbytes)
        35.98% of uncompressed filesystem size (1033650.60 Kbytes)
Inode table size 399913 bytes (390.54 Kbytes)
        26.53% of uncompressed inode table size (1507581 bytes)
Directory table size 408749 bytes (399.17 Kbytes)
        42.31% of uncompressed directory table size (966174 bytes)
Number of duplicate files found 1618
Number of inodes 44932
Number of files 34582
Number of fragments 3290
Number of symbolic links  5908
Number of device nodes 7
Number of fifo nodes 0
Number of socket nodes 0
Number of directories 4435
Number of ids (unique uids + gids) 18
Number of uids 5
        root (0)
        mhx (1000)
        unknown (103)
        shutdown (6)
        unknown (106)
Number of gids 15
        root (0)
        unknown (109)
        unknown (42)
        unknown (1000)
        users (100)
        unknown (43)
        tty (5)
        unknown (108)
        unknown (111)
        unknown (110)
        unknown (50)
        mail (12)
        nobody (65534)
        adm (4)
        mem (8)

real    0m50.124s
user    9m41.708s
sys     0m1.727s

The difference in speed is almost negligible. SquashFS is just a bit slower here. In terms of compression, the difference also isn't huge:

$ ls -lh raspbian.* *.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx  users 297M Mar  4 21:32 2020-08-20-raspios-buster-armhf-lite.img.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  287M Mar  4 21:31 raspbian.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  364M Mar  4 21:33 raspbian.squashfs

Interestingly, xz actually can't compress the whole original image better than DwarFS.

We can even again try to increase the DwarFS compression level:

$ time sudo mkdwarfs -i raspbian -o raspbian-9.dwarfs --with-devices -l9

real    0m54.161s
user    8m40.109s
sys     0m7.101s

Now that actually gets the DwarFS image size well below that of the xz archive:

$ ls -lh raspbian-9.dwarfs *.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  244M Mar  4 21:36 raspbian-9.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx  users 297M Mar  4 21:32 2020-08-20-raspios-buster-armhf-lite.img.xz

Even if you actually build a tarball and compress that (instead of compressing the EXT4 file system itself), xz isn't quite able to match the DwarFS image size:

$ time sudo tar cf - raspbian | xz -9 -vT 0 >raspbian.tar.xz
  100 %     246.9 MiB / 1,037.2 MiB = 0.238    13 MiB/s       1:18

real    1m18.226s
user    6m35.381s
sys     0m2.205s

$ ls -lh raspbian.tar.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 247M Mar  4 21:40 raspbian.tar.xz

DwarFS also comes with the dwarfsextract tool that allows extraction of a filesystem image without the FUSE driver. So here's a comparison of the extraction speed:

$ time sudo tar xf raspbian.tar.xz -C out1

real    0m12.846s
user    0m12.313s
sys     0m1.616s

$ time sudo dwarfsextract -i raspbian-9.dwarfs -o out2

real    0m3.825s
user    0m13.234s
sys     0m1.382s

So dwarfsextract is almost 4 times faster thanks to using multiple worker threads for decompression. It's writing about 300 MiB/s in this example.

Another nice feature of dwarfsextract is that it allows you to directly output data in an archive format, so you could create a tarball from your image without extracting the files to disk:

$ dwarfsextract -i raspbian-9.dwarfs -f ustar | xz -9 -T0 >raspbian2.tar.xz

This has the interesting side-effect that the resulting tarball will likely be smaller than the one built straight from the directory:

$ ls -lh raspbian*.tar.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 247M Mar  4 21:40 raspbian.tar.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 240M Mar  4 23:52 raspbian2.tar.xz

That's because dwarfsextract writes files in inode-order, and by default inodes are ordered by similarity for the best possible compression.

With lrzip

lrzip is a compression utility targeted especially at compressing large files. From its description, it looks like it does something very similar to DwarFS, i.e. it looks for duplicate segments before passsing the de-duplicated data on to an lzma compressor.

When I first read about lrzip, I was pretty certain it would easily beat DwarFS. So let's take a look. lrzip operates on a single file, so it's necessary to first build a tarball:

$ time tar cf perl-install.tar install

real    2m9.568s
user    0m3.757s
sys     0m26.623s

Now we can run lrzip:

$ time lrzip -vL9 -o perl-install.tar.lrzip perl-install.tar 
The following options are in effect for this COMPRESSION.
Threading is ENABLED. Number of CPUs detected: 16
Detected 67106172928 bytes ram
Compression level 9
Nice Value: 19
Show Progress
Verbose
Output Filename Specified: perl-install.tar.lrzip
Temporary Directory set as: ./
Compression mode is: LZMA. LZO Compressibility testing enabled
Heuristically Computed Compression Window: 426 = 42600MB
File size: 52615639040
Will take 2 passes
Beginning rzip pre-processing phase
Beginning rzip pre-processing phase
perl-install.tar - Compression Ratio: 100.378. Average Compression Speed: 14.536MB/s.
Total time: 00:57:32.47

real    57m32.472s
user    81m44.104s
sys     4m50.221s

That definitely took a while. This is about an order of magnitude slower than mkdwarfs and it barely makes use of the 8 cores.

$ ll -h perl-install.tar.lrzip
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 500M Mar  6 21:16 perl-install.tar.lrzip

This is a surprisingly disappointing result. The archive is 65% larger than a DwarFS image at -l9 that takes less than 4 minutes to build. Also, you can't just access the files in the .lrzip without fully unpacking the archive first.

That being said, it is better than just using xz on the tarball:

$ time xz -T0 -v9 -c perl-install.tar >perl-install.tar.xz
perl-install.tar (1/1)
  100 %      4,317.0 MiB / 49.0 GiB = 0.086    24 MiB/s      34:55

real    34m55.450s
user    543m50.810s
sys     0m26.533s

$ ll perl-install.tar.xz -h
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 4.3G Mar  6 22:59 perl-install.tar.xz

With zpaq

zpaq is a journaling backup utility and archiver. Again, it appears to share some of the ideas in DwarFS, like segmentation analysis, but it also adds some features on top that make it useful for incremental backups. However, it's also not usable as a file system, so data needs to be extracted before it can be used.

Anyway, how does it fare in terms of speed and compression performance?

$ time zpaq a perl-install.zpaq install -m5

After a few million lines of output that (I think) cannot be turned off:

2258234 +added, 0 -removed.

0.000000 + (51161.953159 -> 8932.000297 -> 490.227707) = 490.227707 MB
2828.082 seconds (all OK)

real    47m8.104s
user    714m44.286s
sys     3m6.751s

So it's an order of magnitude slower than mkdwarfs and uses 14 times as much CPU resources as mkdwarfs -l9. The resulting archive it pretty close in size to the default configuration DwarFS image, but it's more than 50% bigger than the image produced by mkdwarfs -l9.

$ ll perl-install*.*
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 490227707 Mar  7 01:38 perl-install.zpaq
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 315482627 Mar  3 21:23 perl-install-l9.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 447230618 Mar  3 20:28 perl-install.dwarfs

What's really surprising is how slow it is to extract the zpaq archive again:

$ time zpaq x perl-install.zpaq
2798.097 seconds (all OK)

real    46m38.117s
user    711m18.734s
sys     3m47.876s

That's 700 times slower than extracting the DwarFS image.

With wimlib

wimlib is a really interesting project that is a lot more mature than DwarFS. While DwarFS at its core has a library component that could potentially be ported to other operating systems, wimlib already is available on many platforms. It also seems to have quite a rich set of features, so it's definitely worth taking a look at.

I first tried wimcapture on the perl dataset:

$ time wimcapture --unix-data --solid --solid-chunk-size=16M install perl-install.wim
Scanning "install"
47 GiB scanned (1927501 files, 330733 directories)
Using LZMS compression with 16 threads
Archiving file data: 19 GiB of 19 GiB (100%) done

real    15m23.310s
user    174m29.274s
sys     0m42.921s

$ ll perl-install.*
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users  447230618 Mar  3 20:28 perl-install.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users  315482627 Mar  3 21:23 perl-install-l9.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 4748902400 Mar  3 20:10 perl-install.squashfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 1016981520 Mar  6 21:12 perl-install.wim

So wimlib is definitely much better than squashfs, in terms of both compression ratio and speed. DwarFS is however about 3 times faster to create the file system and the DwarFS file system less than half the size. When switching to LZMA compression, the DwarFS file system is more than 3 times smaller (wimlib uses LZMS compression by default).

What's a bit surprising is that mounting a wim file takes quite a bit of time:

$ time wimmount perl-install.wim mnt
[WARNING] Mounting a WIM file containing solid-compressed data; file access may be slow.

real    0m2.038s
user    0m1.764s
sys     0m0.242s

Mounting the DwarFS image takes almost no time in comparison:

$ time git/github/dwarfs/build-clang-11/dwarfs perl-install-default.dwarfs mnt
I 00:23:39.238182 dwarfs (v0.4.0, fuse version 35)

real    0m0.003s
user    0m0.003s
sys     0m0.000s

That's just because it immediately forks into background by default and initializes the file system in the background. However, even when running it in the foreground, initializing the file system takes only about 60 milliseconds:

$ dwarfs perl-install.dwarfs mnt -f
I 00:25:03.186005 dwarfs (v0.4.0, fuse version 35)
I 00:25:03.248061 file system initialized [60.95ms]

If you actually build the DwarFS file system with uncompressed metadata, mounting is basically instantaneous:

$ dwarfs perl-install-meta.dwarfs mnt -f
I 00:27:52.667026 dwarfs (v0.4.0, fuse version 35)
I 00:27:52.671066 file system initialized [2.879ms]

I've tried running the benchmark where all 1139 perl executables print their version with the wimlib image, but after about 10 minutes, it still hadn't finished the first run (with the DwarFS image, one run took slightly more than 2 seconds). I then tried the following instead:

$ ls -1 /tmp/perl/install/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P1 sh -c 'time $0 -v >/dev/null' 2>&1 | grep ^real
real    0m0.802s
real    0m0.652s
real    0m1.677s
real    0m1.973s
real    0m1.435s
real    0m1.879s
real    0m2.003s
real    0m1.695s
real    0m2.343s
real    0m1.899s
real    0m1.809s
real    0m1.790s
real    0m2.115s

Judging from that, it would have probably taken about half an hour for a single run, which makes at least the --solid wim image pretty much unusable for actually working with the file system.

The --solid option was suggested to me because it resembles the way that DwarFS actually organizes data internally. However, judging by the warning when mounting a solid image, it's probably not ideal when using the image as a mounted file system. So I tried again without --solid:

$ time wimcapture --unix-data install perl-install-nonsolid.wim
Scanning "install"
47 GiB scanned (1927501 files, 330733 directories)
Using LZX compression with 16 threads
Archiving file data: 19 GiB of 19 GiB (100%) done

real    8m39.034s
user    64m58.575s
sys     0m32.003s

This is still more than 3 minutes slower than mkdwarfs. However, it yields an image that's almost 10 times the size of the DwarFS image and comparable in size to the SquashFS image:

$ ll perl-install-nonsolid.wim -h
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 4.6G Mar  6 23:24 perl-install-nonsolid.wim

This still takes surprisingly long to mount:

$ time wimmount perl-install-nonsolid.wim mnt

real    0m1.603s
user    0m1.327s
sys     0m0.275s

However, it's really usable as a file system, even though it's about 4-5 times slower than the DwarFS image:

$ hyperfine -c 'umount mnt' -p 'umount mnt; dwarfs perl-install.dwarfs mnt -o cachesize=1g -o workers=4; sleep 1' -n dwarfs "ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'" -p 'umount mnt; wimmount perl-install-nonsolid.wim mnt; sleep 1' -n wimlib "ls -1 mnt/*/*/bin/perl5* | xargs -d $'\n' -n1 -P20 sh -c '\$0 -v >/dev/null'"
Benchmark #1: dwarfs
  Time (mean ± σ):      1.149 s ±  0.019 s    [User: 2.147 s, System: 0.739 s]
  Range (min … max):    1.122 s …  1.187 s    10 runs
 
Benchmark #2: wimlib
  Time (mean ± σ):      7.542 s ±  0.069 s    [User: 2.787 s, System: 0.694 s]
  Range (min … max):    7.490 s …  7.732 s    10 runs
 
Summary
  'dwarfs' ran
    6.56 ± 0.12 times faster than 'wimlib'

With Cromfs

I used Cromfs in the past for compressed file systems and remember that it did a pretty good job in terms of compression ratio. But it was never fast. However, I didn't quite remember just how slow it was until I tried to set up a test.

Here's a run on the Perl dataset, with the block size set to 16 MiB to match the default of DwarFS, and with additional options suggested to speed up compression:

$ time mkcromfs -f 16777216 -qq -e -r100000 install perl-install.cromfs
Writing perl-install.cromfs...
mkcromfs: Automatically enabling --24bitblocknums because it seems possible for this filesystem.
Root pseudo file is 108 bytes
Inotab spans 0x7f3a18259000..0x7f3a1bfffb9c
Root inode spans 0x7f3a205d2948..0x7f3a205d294c
Beginning task for Files and directories: Finding identical blocks
2163608 reuse opportunities found. 561362 unique blocks. Block table will be 79.4% smaller than without the index search.
Beginning task for Files and directories: Blockifying
Blockifying:  0.04% (140017/2724970) idx(siz=80423,del=0) rawin(20.97 MB)rawout(20.97 MB)diff(1956 bytes)
Termination signalled, cleaning up temporaries

real    29m9.634s
user    201m37.816s
sys     2m15.005s

So it processed 21 MiB out of 48 GiB in half an hour, using almost twice as much CPU resources as DwarFS for the whole file system. At this point I decided it's likely not worth waiting (presumably) another month (!) for mkcromfs to finish. I double checked that I didn't accidentally build a debugging version, mkcromfs was definitely built with -O3.

I then tried once more with a smaller version of the Perl dataset. This only has 20 versions (instead of 1139) of Perl, and obviously a lot less redundancy:

$ time mkcromfs -f 16777216 -qq -e -r100000 install-small perl-install.cromfs
Writing perl-install.cromfs...
mkcromfs: Automatically enabling --16bitblocknums because it seems possible for this filesystem.
Root pseudo file is 108 bytes
Inotab spans 0x7f00e0774000..0x7f00e08410a8
Root inode spans 0x7f00b40048f8..0x7f00b40048fc
Beginning task for Files and directories: Finding identical blocks
25362 reuse opportunities found. 9815 unique blocks. Block table will be 72.1% smaller than without the index search.
Beginning task for Files and directories: Blockifying
Compressing raw rootdir inode (28 bytes)z=982370,del=2) rawin(641.56 MB)rawout(252.72 MB)diff(388.84 MB)
 compressed into 35 bytes
INOTAB pseudo file is 839.85 kB
Inotab inode spans 0x7f00bc036ed8..0x7f00bc036ef4
Beginning task for INOTAB: Finding identical blocks
0 reuse opportunities found. 13 unique blocks. Block table will be 0.0% smaller than without the index search.
Beginning task for INOTAB: Blockifying
mkcromfs: Automatically enabling --packedblocks because it is possible for this filesystem.
Compressing raw inotab inode (52 bytes)
 compressed into 58 bytes
Compressing 9828 block records (4 bytes each, total 39312 bytes)
 compressed into 15890 bytes
Compressing and writing 16 fblocks...

16 fblocks were written: 35.31 MB = 13.90 % of 254.01 MB
Filesystem size: 35.33 MB = 5.50 % of original 642.22 MB
End

real    27m38.833s
user    277m36.208s
sys     11m36.945s

And repeating the same task with mkdwarfs:

$ time mkdwarfs -i install-small -o perl-install-small.dwarfs
21:13:38.131724 scanning install-small
21:13:38.320139 waiting for background scanners...
21:13:38.727024 assigning directory and link inodes...
21:13:38.731807 finding duplicate files...
21:13:38.832524 saved 267.8 MiB / 611.8 MiB in 22842/26401 duplicate files
21:13:38.832598 waiting for inode scanners...
21:13:39.619963 assigning device inodes...
21:13:39.620855 assigning pipe/socket inodes...
21:13:39.621356 building metadata...
21:13:39.621453 building blocks...
21:13:39.621472 saving names and links...
21:13:39.621655 ordering 3559 inodes using nilsimsa similarity...
21:13:39.622031 nilsimsa: depth=20000, limit=255
21:13:39.629206 updating name and link indices...
21:13:39.630142 pre-sorted index (3360 name, 2127 path lookups) [8.014ms]
21:13:39.752051 3559 inodes ordered [130.3ms]
21:13:39.752101 waiting for segmenting/blockifying to finish...
21:13:53.250951 saving chunks...
21:13:53.251581 saving directories...
21:13:53.303862 waiting for compression to finish...
21:14:11.073273 compressed 611.8 MiB to 24.01 MiB (ratio=0.0392411)
21:14:11.091099 filesystem created without errors [32.96s]
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
waiting for block compression to finish
3334 dirs, 0/0 soft/hard links, 26401/26401 files, 0 other
original size: 611.8 MiB, dedupe: 267.8 MiB (22842 files), segment: 121.5 MiB
filesystem: 222.5 MiB in 14 blocks (7177 chunks, 3559/3559 inodes)
compressed filesystem: 14 blocks/24.01 MiB written
██████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████▏100% \

real    0m33.007s
user    3m43.324s
sys     0m4.015s

So mkdwarfs is about 50 times faster than mkcromfs and uses 75 times less CPU resources. At the same time, the DwarFS file system is 30% smaller:

$ ls -l perl-install-small.*fs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 35328512 Dec  8 14:25 perl-install-small.cromfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 25175016 Dec 10 21:14 perl-install-small.dwarfs

I noticed that the blockifying step that took ages for the full dataset with mkcromfs ran substantially faster (in terms of MiB/second) on the smaller dataset, which makes me wonder if there's some quadratic complexity behaviour that's slowing down mkcromfs.

In order to be completely fair, I also ran mkdwarfs with -l 9 to enable LZMA compression (which is what mkcromfs uses by default):

$ time mkdwarfs -i install-small -o perl-install-small-l9.dwarfs -l 9
21:16:21.874975 scanning install-small
21:16:22.092201 waiting for background scanners...
21:16:22.489470 assigning directory and link inodes...
21:16:22.495216 finding duplicate files...
21:16:22.611221 saved 267.8 MiB / 611.8 MiB in 22842/26401 duplicate files
21:16:22.611314 waiting for inode scanners...
21:16:23.394332 assigning device inodes...
21:16:23.395184 assigning pipe/socket inodes...
21:16:23.395616 building metadata...
21:16:23.395676 building blocks...
21:16:23.395685 saving names and links...
21:16:23.395830 ordering 3559 inodes using nilsimsa similarity...
21:16:23.396097 nilsimsa: depth=50000, limit=255
21:16:23.401042 updating name and link indices...
21:16:23.403127 pre-sorted index (3360 name, 2127 path lookups) [6.936ms]
21:16:23.524914 3559 inodes ordered [129ms]
21:16:23.525006 waiting for segmenting/blockifying to finish...
21:16:33.865023 saving chunks...
21:16:33.865883 saving directories...
21:16:33.900140 waiting for compression to finish...
21:17:10.505779 compressed 611.8 MiB to 17.44 MiB (ratio=0.0284969)
21:17:10.526171 filesystem created without errors [48.65s]
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
waiting for block compression to finish
3334 dirs, 0/0 soft/hard links, 26401/26401 files, 0 other
original size: 611.8 MiB, dedupe: 267.8 MiB (22842 files), segment: 122.2 MiB
filesystem: 221.8 MiB in 4 blocks (7304 chunks, 3559/3559 inodes)
compressed filesystem: 4 blocks/17.44 MiB written
██████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████▏100% /

real    0m48.683s
user    2m24.905s
sys     0m3.292s

$ ls -l perl-install-small*.*fs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 18282075 Dec 10 21:17 perl-install-small-l9.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 35328512 Dec  8 14:25 perl-install-small.cromfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 25175016 Dec 10 21:14 perl-install-small.dwarfs

It takes about 15 seconds longer to build the DwarFS file system with LZMA compression (this is still 35 times faster than Cromfs), but reduces the size even further to make it almost half the size of the Cromfs file system.

I would have added some benchmarks with the Cromfs FUSE driver, but sadly it crashed right upon trying to list the directory after mounting.

With EROFS

EROFS is a new read-only compressed file system that has recently been added to the Linux kernel. Its goals are quite different from those of DwarFS, though. It is designed to be lightweight (which DwarFS is definitely not) and to run on constrained hardware like embedded devices or smartphones. It only supports LZ4 compression.

I was feeling lucky and decided to run it on the full Perl dataset:

$ time mkfs.erofs perl-install.erofs install -zlz4hc,9 -d2
mkfs.erofs 1.2
        c_version:           [     1.2]
        c_dbg_lvl:           [       2]
        c_dry_run:           [       0]
^C

real    912m42.601s
user    903m2.777s
sys     1m52.812s

As you can tell, after more than 15 hours I just gave up. In those 15 hours, mkfs.erofs had produced a 13 GiB output file:

$ ll -h perl-install.erofs 
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 13G Dec  9 14:42 perl-install.erofs

I don't think this would have been very useful to compare with DwarFS.

Just as for Cromfs, I re-ran with the smaller Perl dataset:

$ time mkfs.erofs perl-install-small.erofs install-small -zlz4hc,9 -d2
mkfs.erofs 1.2
        c_version:           [     1.2]
        c_dbg_lvl:           [       2]
        c_dry_run:           [       0]

real    0m27.844s
user    0m20.570s
sys     0m1.848s

That was surprisingly quick, which makes me think that, again, there might be some accidentally quadratic complexity hiding in mkfs.erofs. The output file it produced is an order of magnitude larger than the DwarFS image:

$ ls -l perl-install-small.*fs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users  26928161 Dec  8 15:05 perl-install-small.dwarfs
-rw-r--r-- 1 mhx users 296488960 Dec  9 14:45 perl-install-small.erofs

Admittedly, this isn't a fair comparison. EROFS has a fixed block size of 4 KiB, and it uses LZ4 compression. If we tweak DwarFS to the same parameters, we get:

$ time mkdwarfs -i install-small -o perl-install-small-lz4.dwarfs -C lz4hc:level=9 -S 12
21:21:18.136796 scanning install-small
21:21:18.376998 waiting for background scanners...
21:21:18.770703 assigning directory and link inodes...
21:21:18.776422 finding duplicate files...
21:21:18.903505 saved 267.8 MiB / 611.8 MiB in 22842/26401 duplicate files
21:21:18.903621 waiting for inode scanners...
21:21:19.676420 assigning device inodes...
21:21:19.677400 assigning pipe/socket inodes...
21:21:19.678014 building metadata...
21:21:19.678101 building blocks...
21:21:19.678116 saving names and links...
21:21:19.678306 ordering 3559 inodes using nilsimsa similarity...
21:21:19.678566 nilsimsa: depth=20000, limit=255
21:21:19.684227 pre-sorted index (3360 name, 2127 path lookups) [5.592ms]
21:21:19.685550 updating name and link indices...
21:21:19.810401 3559 inodes ordered [132ms]
21:21:19.810519 waiting for segmenting/blockifying to finish...
21:21:26.773913 saving chunks...
21:21:26.776832 saving directories...
21:21:26.821085 waiting for compression to finish...
21:21:27.020929 compressed 611.8 MiB to 140.7 MiB (ratio=0.230025)
21:21:27.036202 filesystem created without errors [8.899s]
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
waiting for block compression to finish
3334 dirs, 0/0 soft/hard links, 26401/26401 files, 0 other
original size: 611.8 MiB, dedupe: 267.8 MiB (22842 files), segment: 0 B
filesystem: 344 MiB in 88073 blocks (91628 chunks, 3559/3559 inodes)
compressed filesystem: 88073 blocks/140.7 MiB written
████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████▏100% |

real    0m9.075s
user    0m37.718s
sys     0m2.427s

It finishes in less than half the time and produces an output image that's half the size of the EROFS image.

I'm going to stop the comparison here, as it's pretty obvious that the domains in which EROFS and DwarFS are being used have extremely little overlap. DwarFS will likely never be able to run on embedded devices and EROFS will likely never be able to achieve the compression ratios of DwarFS.


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