Apple has clarified reports regarding the use of Sun's ZFS file system in Leopard, confirming that ZFS is present in the operating system but that Apple has not yet made it the default file system.
Last week, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said that Apple planned to announce a switch to ZFS as the basic file system for Mac OS X at its Worldwide Developers Conference. That announcement didn't arrive on Monday as part of the WWDC extravaganza, and then Information Week reported Monday that an Apple executive denied that ZFS was present in Leopard.
The full story emerged on Tuesday: apparently the executive misspoke. Leopard will support two file systems, the HFS+ technology currently found in Mac OS X, as well as ZFS, a next-generation file system developed by Sun and unveiled in 2005. However, HFS+ will remain the default option.
If you're familiar with the ins and outs of file system technology, you'll know the ramifications. If you don't, here's a quick and dirty explanation.
File systems outline how information is stored on a computer. They are complicated beasts that generally are kept in place for years as operating systems change around them. Windows supports two file systems, the older FAT32 technology and the default NTFS technology, which has been around since the introduction of Windows NT in 1993.
Apple's HFS+ was introduced with Mac OS 8.1. Adding ZFS to the mix basically means that you can take advantage of a number of features, like adding huge amounts of storage, that my colleague Declan McCullagh outlines here. At some point, Apple will likely make ZFS the default file system for Mac OS X, but Sun hasn't even gotten around to doing that yet for Solaris 10. These transitions can take years.