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I've just converted another of my machine to Ubuntu. Should I consider using ext4?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I would consider using ext4 on brand new installations since the performance increase is pretty significant. I believe that ext4 is default for Ubuntu on the next release (9.10), but available but not default in the current release (9.04).

You can convert a filesystem currently as ext3 to ext4, but the performance increase may not apply to the existing data since some of the internal architecture changes would not apply to that data. Any new data though, you would benefit from extents and such.

ext4 is marked stable, so releases of new kernels should not completely break your existing filesystem like an unstable filesystem like btrfs would.

Of course, I'd back things up before messing with anything, just in never know.

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... and how would I go about converting the machine I already have on ext3? – jldupont Sep 21 '09 at 23:40
Check out This thread explains how to convert from ext2/3 to ext4 on your Ubuntu 9.04 machine. – KFro Sep 21 '09 at 23:46

ext4's extent allocation does wonder when you use BitTorrent. When a BT client pre-allocates a large chunk (say, when you're downloading a DVD iso) of disk to avoid fragmentation, on ext4 it's near instantaneous, while on ext3 it can take dozens of seconds.

I've had kernel oopses with ext4 on early Fedora 10 (but no loss of data), but nowadays not a single problem with it. It looks pretty solid as far as I'm concerned.

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If you have a good back up scheme sure. It is were a lot of the distributions are moving and its marked as stable in recent kernels.

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