"I'd like to get a first round of review on my AXFS filesystem," began Jared Hulbert, describing his new Advanced XIP File System for Linux. XIP stands for eXecute-In-Place. The new filesystem received quite a bit of positive feedback. Jared offered the following description:
"This is a simple read only compressed filesystem like Squashfs and cramfs. AXFS is special because it also allows for execute-in-place of your applications. It is a major improvement over the cramfs XIP patches that have been floating around for ages. The biggest improvement is in the way AXFS allows for each page to be XIP or not. First, a user collects information about which pages are accessed on a compressed image for each mmap()ed region from /proc/axfs/volume0. That 'profile' is used as an input to the image builder. The resulting image has only the relevant pages uncompressed and XIP. The result is smaller memory sizes and faster launches."
In a series of seven patches, Arnd Bergmann proposed adding in-memory write support to mounted cramfs file systems. He explained, "the intention is to use it for instance on read-only root file systems like CD-ROM, or on compressed initrd images. In either case, no data is written back to the medium, but remains in the page/inode/dentry cache, like ramfs does." Reactions were mixed. When Arnd suggested this as an alternative to using the more complex unionfs to overlay a temporary filesystem over a read-only file system, and that similar support could be added to other file systems, it was pointed out that there was ultimately more gained by focusing on a single solution that worked with all filesystems. David Newall stressed, "multiple implementations is a recipe for bugs and feature mismatch." Erez Zadok suggested, "I favor a more generic approach, one that will work with the vast majority of file systems that people use w/ unioning, preferably all of them." He went on to add that more gains would be had from modifying the union destination filesystem rather than multiple source filesystems. Arnd agreed in principle, but noted it would add complexity. He indicated that he'd explore the idea further, then explained:
"My idea was to have it in cramfs, squashfs and iso9660 at most, I agree that doing it in even a single writable file system would add far too much complexity. I did not mean to start a fundamental discussion about how to do it the right way, just noticed that there are half a dozen implementations that have been around for years without getting close to inclusion in the mainline kernel, while a much simpler approach gives you sane semantics for a subset of users."