When Apple was about to introduce the Time Machine in Mac OS X Leopard, John Siracusa wrote in the summer of 2006 about how a new file system should come to Macs (which it did, 11 years later). The Mac, Siracusa wrote, needs something that can handle many small files well, volume management with integrated storage, data integrity based checks, and graphics. You need something like ZFS or, perhaps, ReiserFS, file systems “notable for their willingness to repeat past myths about file system design.”
Two months later, Reiser’s name would lose most of its prestige and carry a terrible partnership that would never shake. The police took the name of the file, Hans Reiser, and charged him with murder in connection with the disappearance of his estranged wife.
Reiser’s work on Linux file systems was largely doomed to failure from that point on. Now that choice is official, as the file system that was once the default on systems like SUSE Linux has changed from “Supported” to “Release” in new Linux 6.6 kernel framework (as reported by Phoronix). While Reiser’s former employee, Namesys, continued off-source work on later versions of ReiserFS, it was likely to disappear from the kernel entirely in a matter of years, possibly 2025.
It’s an absurd end for a file system that, at one time, could have been the next big thing for Linux file systems.
Hans and Nina Reiser were in the midst of divorce proceedings when Nina disappeared in September 2006, having been last seen dropping off her children at Hans’ home. The two have repeatedly clashed over child support, and Nina has a protective order against Hans since then. During their investigation, police found Hans’ Honda CRX miles from his home. The interior was flooded, the passenger seat was removed, and police discovered a sleeping bag cover with a 6-inch stain of Nina’s blood, along with two papers on police homicide investigations.
Reiser was convicted by a jury after a trial in which he provided “great courtroom and argumentative arguments,” and “defense geek“It was more than 11 days. He was then sentenced to 15 years of life imprisonment after he took the agents to his wife’s body after his trial but before the trial.
Before his arrest, Reiser’s personal file system was in a position to have a real impact on the future of open source file systems. ReiserFS addresses the lack of ext2 directory, added B-tree indexing, and works very fast when dealing with large numbers of small files. Others have praised the system’s stability under power or system failure, being able to recover and restore data faster than other systems at the time. ReiserFS “received much praise and even significant industry support,” wrote Jeremy Reimer in a history of file systems from 2008, but “the wheels began to come off for reasons that were primarily non-technical.” device.”
Hans Reiser accidentally dropped support for ReiserFS, focusing instead on Reiser4, which requires a fix for anyone wanting to upgrade. “Questions about the credibility and integrity of Reiser4,” Reimer noted, but Reiser’s arrest on the aggravated murder charge had more impact. When ext3 added journaling support, its status as a known, reliable quantity made it the following default, “Despite valiant efforts to establish ReiserFS as the new standard.” In July 2008, an Ars “postmortem analysis” of the ReiserFS mailing list showed little interest among developers in maintaining its code. Last year, Jeff Mahoney, the ReiserFS project manager at the top for OpenSUSE, propose immediate removal.
Reiser herself was last seen in court in 2012, this time serving as her own attorney in defense of her children’s wrongful death charges. Reiser argue that he had prevented harm to his children by killing their mother, but a jury found him liable for $60 million in damages. Any “hidden property” or “anything of value that may develop while behind bars” will be liable to minors.
Hans Thomas Reiser, now 59, has been eligible for parole since January 2019. He is currently incarcerated at the California Health Care Center in Stockton, California. Reiser was denied parole in March 2020 and will next have a compliance hearing in August 2027, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Former Namesys developer Edward Shishkin continues to work on Reiser5 (ie ReiserFS 5) and is always covered by the Phoronix blog. Ars reached out to Shishkin for comment and will update this post with new information.