btrfs (pronounced as in the title) is the next gen linux file system (you can tell it is a file system because it ends in “fs” which means “File-related stuff.”

Valerie Aurora nee Henson gives us “….a behind-the-scenes look at the design and development of btrfs on many levels – technical, political, personal – and trace it from its origins at a workshop to its current position as Linus’s root file system …” here


  1. #1 D. C. Sessions
    August 2, 2009

    What struck me [1] was the architectural decision to design the data structures around minimizing code complexity — and thus maximizing reliability and maintainability. The fact that it also reduces disk activity don’t hurt either.

    [1] In my BSCS, if you must know.

  2. #2 Nathan Myers
    August 2, 2009

    In grand Unix tradition, “fs” is pronounced “fish”; e.g., note from the man page for tunefs: “You can tune a file syste, but you can’t tuna fish.” So, “Butterfish”. (Mmmm, butterfish.)

  3. #3 Benjamin Geiger
    August 2, 2009

    My first instinct was to pronounce it “butterface”.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    August 2, 2009

    Nathan, I like your analysis better, but Valerie disagrees.

  5. #5 Nathan Myers
    August 2, 2009

    Val is welcome to disagree with me all she likes, and it won’t reduce my admiration one whit. I don’t doubt that Chris Mason calls it “betterefess”, but that doesn’t mean he’s right either. Once people hear “butterfish”,the charade is all over.

    I mean, all kinds of database people insist SQL is pronounced “sequel”, but we all know it’s pronounced “squeal” (or “squall”, speaker’s choice). Likewise, Sun marketing always insisted Solaris should be pronounced (per their trademark license agreements) like the movie title, but we all know that it’s a thoroughgoing Unix, and Unices’ names end (trademarks or no) with an “ix” sound. Thus, those of us in the know pronounce it “Solarix”. Apple marketing, similarly, insists their thing is called “Mac OS X”, but we all know, don’t we, that it’s pronounced “maccossix” like the well-behaved Unix we know it to be.

  6. #6 Jason Thibeault
    August 3, 2009

    I did a lot of phone support for Microsoft SQL Server in my old job. There was nothing that bothered me more than the assumption by the Windows hosting folks that SQL Server was the *only* server out there, as implied by the name (you could throw “The” in front quite easily) — well, nothing bothered me more than that, except for their propensity to call it Sequel Server. Something about calling it Sequel just bothered me.

    So, I always made it a point to refer to it as MS-SQL. Spelling it out, in fact. Regardless of what the caller called it, I would not alter what I said. One asked why I was so careful to add “MS”, to which I answered, “well, we support a number of open-source SQL servers as well, including MySQL and PostgreSQL, so calling it ‘SQL Server’ is not nearly descriptive enough to differentiate. And it’s patently unfair of Microsoft to coopt the whole market with a clever name. It’s like you invent a breakfast cereal, and call it ‘Breakfast Cereal’ as though it was the only one worth talking about.” That customer on future calls actually made a point of calling it MS-SQL herself, so I felt somewhat vindicated for my unguarded moment and the poor QA results I got when that call was later reviewed.

  7. #7 Jeff Darcy
    August 3, 2009

    My favorite techie-pronunciation story has to do with SCSI. In the very early days there was a debate about whether to pronounce it “sexy” or “scuzzy” – hard to believe now, I know. Of course, once people actually gained some experience with SCSI innards, the issue was quickly settled and “scuzzy” it remains to this day.

  8. #8 Nathan Myers
    August 3, 2009

    The SCSI bus originated as SASI, pronounced “sassy”. When it was standardized they had to change it. There was never any question about what the pronunciation would be, although Shugart (or its offshoots, by then, e.g. Seagate) marketing drones must have hoped otherwise.

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    August 3, 2009

    Jason, utterly unprompted, Ben just made a comment about “em ess ess que ell.” I thought you’d appreciate it.

  10. #10 Jason Thibeault
    August 3, 2009

    I’m seeing more and more evidence supporting the hypothesis that I should officially less-than-three Ben.