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I am new to Linux, coming from Windows background. What Filesystem should I use? I read that Ext3 is default still? Ext4 is unstable at times? true?

Also is there any performance different between the 2? So bottom line is what to use?

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

I'm pretty sure ext3 is the default, but I've used ext4 for years with no troubles at all. ext4 is made to increase storage size and increase performance of the filesystem. Overall, I've had really good success with it.

This will tell you all you need to know about ext4, but I do recommend using it.

edit: ext4 IS stable according to the kernel.

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one improvement of ext4 is that it improves delete performance of large files – LawrenceC Apr 22 '11 at 14:42
ext4 is the default on Fedora and is very stable – fpmurphy1 Apr 22 '11 at 15:05
I have been using ext4 for more than a year, I haven't faced a problem – user Apr 22 '11 at 16:27
Ext4 has been the default filesystem on new Ubuntu since 9.10. Upgrading requires manual intervention. – Gilles Apr 22 '11 at 19:47

Absolutely usable at home, even for beginners: ext2, ext3, ext4

Usable at home, rarely with issues: xfs (rarity is extreme rarity), jfs, reiserfs

Usable at home, frequently with issues: btrfs, and yeah, ye olde ntfs and fat (one should never ever use those two on Linux, but who knows?)

Not usable at home: zfs

Ext2 is old, but supported everywhere. For desktop/home server usage, ext3 and ext4 are almost completely equal, both are following the same principles and philosophy. The main difference is the level of maturity: ext4 isn't mature enough, so gigantic production systems don't use it yet (rare instabilities or performance issues might 'ruin' those systems [at least financially :)], but not yours). XFS does have a great performance when a lot of small files are moving (but don't use it in your boot partition - AFAIK it is still not supported officially by GRUB, although, I use it with Debian stable, and it works); JFS and ReiserFS aren't native old-school Linux filesystems, but their integration is more than enough. Btrfs is an emerging brilliant thought, always use it with working backup! From btrfs most distros can't boot now, but the support grows from kernel to kernel. Zfs is not yet for home usage, desktops never could use its functionality by its extreme limits (it is constructed for unreachable limits).

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I think this is fairly misleading. ext2 shouldn't be used for anything except /boot (required by grub I think). Since it doesn't have journaling, it definitely shouldn't be recommended for beginners (or anyone really). xfs is extremely slow with small files (most files), so it shouldn't be used for /. It has its purpose, but again, not for beginners (since you'll need more complex partitioning). It's also worth mentioning that ext4 is way faster than ext3. – Brendan Long Apr 22 '11 at 18:37
@Brendan Long ext2 is suitable for any use, and it is not required for /boot; GRUB2 -- the default for Ubuntu since 9.10 -- can boot from ext4 with no problems. – Tyler K. Apr 22 '11 at 19:11
@Brendan: Grub, even Grub 1, copes with ext3 just fine. Ext4 requires Grub 2, I think. – Gilles Apr 22 '11 at 19:44
@Tyler K., journaling filesystems are harder to corrupt and less annoying to fix. ext2 may be useful for some things, but recommending it to beginners is a bad idea. ext3 is about the same speed and safer. – Brendan Long Apr 22 '11 at 21:37
@TylerK, ext2 is fine but if anything happens like a power failure while the disk is mounted, you need to check the whole disk for consistency before it can be reliably used again. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Nov 18 '11 at 8:40

If you don't have a good reason (based on a technical argument that you understand at least superficially), go with the default.

Ubuntu's default filesystem is ext4, since 9.10. Ext4 is an evolution of ext3, which was the default filesystem before. Ext4 is often noticeably faster than Ext3 even for ordinary desktop use.

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I've used btrfs on Ubuntu 10.10 and it was incredible slow (first thought my computer would be the problem). After reinstalling with ext4, it was much faster.

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