Most of the file systems in use today were designed in an era when rotating discs ruled the world. Well, as things have shifted more toward NAND flash-based storage in mobile devices the problems with older file systems have been more visible. Samsung has just tackled the problem by designing a new file system called F2FS that's geared toward flash storage specifically. What's better, it is open source and has been submitted to the Linux kernel. This makes it perfect for implementation in Android.


This isn't the first time Samsung tried to deploy a new file system. RFS was used on the original Galaxy S phones with catastrophic results. F2FS is based on a Log-structured File System (LFS) that takes into account some of the limitations of previous LFS systems. Flash storage has different characteristics due to its internal geometry, so designing a new file system from the ground up makes some sense. F2FS should be better for flash storage than current systems like ext4 or exFAT -- it's reportedly faster and is very easy to apply.

Luckily for us, Samsung chose to offer this file system for integration with the Linux kernel rather than keep it in-house. The 16 patches submitted by Samsung make this an easy to implement file system for Linux-based Android. Getting it into Linux itself also makes it more likely it will be widely adopted by other OEMs. SD cards, SSDs, and other devices could also benefit from F2FS, but the file system won't be immediately supported on platforms like Windows.

Don't worry, though - thanks to FUSE/MTP, you will be able to mount an F2FS-based device even if your system doesn't support it.

[Muktware, Phoronix, LKML, Google+ – Thanks, Jeff]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    And people say Samsung isn't innovative.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jared.klinensky Jared Kline

      Apple will probably just squirt some ketchup lines on a napkin and sue, claiming they designed a flash file system first. Then, they'll win, and that will be the end of that.

    • AaronGingrich

      I see what you did there.

  • Chris Bozsik

    And now I shall await inevitable benchmark comparisons between this and ext4 and probably FAT32

  • PINJ

    Watch The iPhone 6 Get That For No Fee At All. Open Source. [We Cant Getchu Convicted].

    • Jeremy

      You kidding? Apple's stuck with one variant of HFS or another since 1985.

      This also isn't the first filesystem designed for flash storage, though who knows? Maybe it's the first one worth borrowing. Even then, Linux is GPLv2 and Darwin (the base for Mac OS X and iOS) isn't GPL-compatible, so Apple can't just lift the code and port it even if they do finally decide to ditch HFS+.

      • Jon Garrett

        WTF?!?!? where do you get this information? lol.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000338649747 Omario Amriky

    Watch out Samsung, Apple's lawyers are watching...

  • b_to_the_randon

    Wow this gives me a great new respect for Samsung.

  • http://www.slideshare.net/samirsshah Samir Shah

    Bravo Samsung!!! This is leadership!!!

  • yarrellray

    Samsung is pimp slapping everyone senseless.

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    jffs2, yaffs, logfs, and now f2fs. We're getting a lot of filesystems for flash storage lately, however don't expect ext4 to leave your flash chips anytime soon, because all this stuff above is still considered experimental. And certainly don't expect fat32 replacement for your SD cards and USB sticks, because they all are required to support Windows, and Windows could not even adopt ext2 support in more than 15 years (although 3rd party drivers exist, they are still awkward).

    • goonie

      Windows by nature and out of necessity is becoming a dinosaur. The world is evolving around windows and Microsoft is purposely trying to kill itself with 8.

    • KyleRay

      F2FS is based on virtual database file system. So on top of it, you can easily containerize any other file system, but that's not the only benefit. The main reason for using this new file system is for the speed of access seek times inherent on all Solid State Drives. This file system is Revolutionary rather than Evolutionary!

      Sharing it with the OPEN SOURCE COMMUNITY is what they had to do, in making it the file system used for Tizen OS as well as being adopted by Android. If Google is smart enough to use it!

  • Arcest

    Thank you so much Samsung. But you are lacking AOSP support because of your Exynos processors.

  • Jon Garrett

    Note to Samsung, I hope you patented this !!

  • goonie

    Dam sammy! You tryna solidify your spot in the game huh? Showing love gets love homie!

  • KyleRay

    Samsung and Intel have already marked this as the file system to be used by Tizen based on Bada (Ocean or Sea) RTOS. A real time operating system built on QNX license. But capable of running Linux based commands and applications with hardware virtualization coming to ARM A15 based Exynos atop this new virtual database file system better suited to Solid State Memory of today!

    It will be boot instantly like RIM's RTOS or BeOS of Old and many other true Object Oriented Operating Systems of the past. It's revolutionary to say the least. It means multiple booting of Operating systems on f2fs file systems, self repairing, instant boot, not requiring reboots, because the data is never moved or altered. Making it possible to run App modules from iOS while booted into Android and or in the future Tizen as base RTOS, running Android or even Windows 8 touchscreen OS's. All will simply run side by side in multi-screen mode using latest OpenGL ES 3.0 API's!!!

    Samsung could beat out Android while also taking advantage of both Android Play Store Apps, iOS Apps and Windows 8 Apps all on one device utilizing ARM's Linux based Hypervisor booted simultaneously on ARM A15 based SoC processors w/ Hardware Virtualization Feature! ^_*