How to install Ubuntu 11.04 on a btrfs file system

The default journaling file system on non-boot partitions on Ubuntu 11.04 is ext4. Other journaling file systems supported are ext3, xfs, jfs, reiserfs, and btrfs. The journaling file system of interest in this article is btrfs, the B-Tree File System. Btrfs is an ongoing attempt to create a ZFS-like file system for Linux. It is still a long way from matching ZFS feature for feature, and it not yet recommended for use in production, but is good enough for those who just want to see what it has to offer.

ZFS, the Zettabyte File System, is the file system in use on Oracle Solaris. A port of it is also in use on FreeBSD, PC-BSD, and FreeNAS.

This article presents a step by step on how to install Ubuntu 11.04, the latest stable release of Ubuntu, on a btrfs file system.

Before we get started, what are the reasons for using btrfs? Let me list some of them:

  • Space efficient packing of small files
  • Writable snapshots
  • Subvolumes (separate internal filesystem roots)
  • Object level mirroring and striping
  • Integrated multiple device support, with several raid algorithms
  • Very fast offline filesystem check
  • Efficient incremental backup and FS mirroring
  • Online filesystem defragmentation

Setting up a btrfs-based system requires just three partitions:

  • /boot, the boot partition, where boot-related programs reside.
  • Swap, an unformatted disk space for use as virtual memory
  • The main partition, which will be formated with btrfs

To start, boot the computer from any of the ISO images and click until you get to the disk allocation step. Setting up btrfs require manual disk partitioning, so select the Something else option. Forward.

This is the advanced disk partitioning window. This is a standalone installation, so there will be no other operating system or distribution on the disk. It is very easy to set up a dual-boot installation with another OS, if that is what you want to do. To start creating partitions, select the free space you wish to use, and click on Add.

The first partition will be mounted at /boot, with the ext2 file system (it could also be btrfs). The partition number of this boot partition, if it is the first partition on the disk, will be /dev/sda1. While many Linux distributions assign about 500 MB of disk space to /boot, only about 22 MB of the disk space allocated to it on a new installation of Ubuntu 11.04 is used. If you are tight on disk space, you can go as low as 50 MB, but keep in mind that disk usage on /boot will grow with each upgrade. Click OK to create it.

With the /boot partition created, select the free space, then click on Add to create the second partition.

Which will be used as Swap space. About 2000 MB should be enough. Select “swap area” from the “Use as” dropdown menu. OK

Again, select the free space and click on Add to create the third partition.

Which will be the last one. The file system must be btrfs, and the mount point, /. You may assign all available disk space to this partition. Notice that like the others, it is a primary partition. Add.

With all partitions created. Click Install Now to complete the installation. After installation, reboot and have fun with your btrfs-based Natty Narwhal. Keep in mind that if you use the Alternate Installer ISO image, you should be able to create an encrypted btrfs file system.

You can have quality articles like this delivered automatically to your Feed Reader or Inbox by subscribing via RSS or email.
This website now has a Question and Answer section. Use the commenting system for simple comments, but for more involved assistance, please use the Q & A section.

Related Posts

Manual disk partitioning guide for Linux Mint Debian The latest ISO installation images for Linux Mint Debian, the line of Linux Mint based on Debian, were made available for download a few days ago. Whi...
Feature preview of Fedora 16 installer Fedora 16 is more than two months away from final, stable release, but pre-Alpha installation ISO images have been floating around. News from the Fedo...
Install Cinnamon 1.3.1 in Fedora 16 The first article on Fedora and Cinnamon published on this website was about installing Cinnamon 1.1.3 on Fedora 16. Now that a newer version of Cinna...
How to install and configure a graphical firewall client in Ubuntu 10.10 Like all Linux distributions, Ubuntu 10.10, aka, Maverick Meerkat, the latest version of the popular Linux distribution, ships with a firewall install...
Have you met Johnny? If you have never heard of or used John the Ripper, then you most likely have not heard of or used Johnny either. So, what, or who, is Johnny? Well, J...
How to dual-boot Windows 7 and Chakra Linux Archimedes, with shared NTFS partition at the ... The first article on dual-booting Windows 7 and Chakra Linux, involved Chakra Edn, the edition of Chakra with BURG as the boot loader (see How to dual...

We Recommend These Vendors and Free Offers

ContainerizeThis 2016 is a free, 2-day conference for all things containers and big data. Featured, will be presentations and free, hands-on workshops. Learn more at

Launch an SSD VPS in Europe, USA, Asia & Australia on Vultr's KVM-based Cloud platform starting at $5:00/month (15 GB SSD, 768 MB of RAM).

Deploy an SSD Cloud server in 55 seconds on DigitalOcean. Built for developers and starting at $5:00/month (20 GB SSD, 512 MB of RAM).

Want to become an expert ethical hacker and penetration tester? Request your free video training course of Online Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking

Whether you're new to Linux or are a Linux guru, you can learn a lot more about the Linux kernel by requesting your free ebook of Linux Kernel In A Nutshell.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Links 6/5/2011: Linux-powered Android Phones Take Majority Share in the US | Techrights

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *