Apple Scuttles ZFS: Community Picks it Up

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 31, 2009

In like a lion, out like a Snow Leopard? Apple changed its spots on Sun's ZFS fairly quickly. This week the company shutterd the ZFS Project on Mac OS Forge, and there's no hide or hair of ZFS to be found in Snow Leopard. It's a pretty quick turnabout from a few years ago, when Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz was touting Apple's inclusion of ZFS in Leopard.

A quick recap for folks who don't live and breathe fileystems: ZFS is Sun's "next generation" fileystem that adds all kinds of support for advanced features that make the filesytem more than just a place to dump data.

Apple, as is usual for the folks in Cupertino, hasn't issued a comment about its reasoning for dumping ZFS. The speculation is that it has something to do with Oracle's pending acquision of Sun. Licensing issues have also been cited. Whatever the reason, Apple's not going to be supplying ZFS to the Mac faithful past Leopard.

But as with all things open source, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. forks have already appeared on GitHub, and there are attempts to support ZFS with MacFUSE. So if you're a die-hard ZFS fan on Mac OS X, there may be some hope for you yet.

This is, after all, one of the primary reasons for releasing and supporting code under open source licenses: The ability to resurrect a project when a company decides to go in a different direction. Obviously, it won't be as convenient or easy for Mac fans to support ZFS on their own, but the option is there.

Dustin Sallings, the developer who's taking initiative on GitHub to keep the project active, has created an installer and put up a Google Code page for the project as well. The mailing list looks reasonably active for a new project, so ZFS might carry on just fine on Mac OS X even though Apple has thrown in the towel.

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is a longtime FOSS advocate, and currently works for Novell as the community manager for openSUSE. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist covering the open source beat for a number of publications, including Linux Magazine, Linux Weekly News,,, IBM developerWorks, and many others.