Back to Ext4 from Btrfs
After using Btrfs on both my work and home machines, I’m switching back to ext4. I actually like Btrfs and I wish I could keep using it, but I had two major issues.
The first one and this was enough for me to switch back to ext4, Google Chrome startup time was almost 10 times slower. At first I didn’t realize it was Btrfs causing this, but after some investigation, it’s noticeable how fragmentation affects some applications using Btrfs. I actually switched my work machine to ext4 after I found I could not use the virtual machines I had anymore, because it kept reading the disk for hours at anything I did in the virtual machine (in the end they could not even boot anymore). Btrfs is not always slower, or at least not noticeable, but for a few scenarios that can cause fragmentation, they really do make Btrfs unusable for me.
The second one might just be a misunderstanding of my part, but I read manuals and wikis and could not find an answer. I started with one 150GB partition at work and had another 150GB partition if I wanted to easily switch back to ext4. Then I wanted to test adding multiple devices to Btrfs, which it makes really easy, and added the other partition to the first and did a balance operation, so data was distributed between them. What I did not realize, is that by doing that it created a RAID 1 with my partitions. As far as I know, RAID 1 with two partitions in the same drive are just useless, it just duplicates data between both partitions. After reading more manuals, I learned that on creation time you can control the RAID level, but I found no way to do it afterwards. And the worst of it, I found no way to degrade back to RAID 0, so I found no way to remove the second partition from the filesystem, which means I ended up with 300GB of space being used as 150GB.
And another issue I had, it was not always obvious how much disk space I had free. In some places it indicated 300GB, others 150GB. And in my home machine I even had an out of free space error when it indicated I had 6GB free.
Despite its powerful features, I could not justify the problems I had. Actually, I was not using snapshots and sobvolumes as much as I expected. I believe this may change as more tools are written to take advantage of these features.
I knew well before I started using it that it’s not production ready or even finished yet. Btrfs is definitely a step in the right direction and I hope I can try using it again in some time. It even managed not to lose any of my data despite me poking with stuff I did not understand.