Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Ashish Bijlani has found a way to make Linux user file systems faster.
User file systems are how operating systems organize files. They are easy to develop, maintain, and debug, but they’re so slow that the weak performance almost cancels out the benefits.
Bijlani’s ExtFUSE extension uses Linux’s extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) kernel-extension framework to speed up Linux’s File System in Userspace, or FUSE. eBPF inserts customizable code into the kernel that can improve performance and security needs.
The project started last September when Bijlani was using FUSE file systems in his own research but found them too slow for his needs. He knew eBPF could optimize a framework and decided to experiment with FUSE.
“I had been reading about eBPF and thought this would be a good way to make FUSE file systems faster,” he said.
Bijlani knew the research would be worthwhile from the start because optimizing the framework would automatically improve hundreds of applications that used it. He presented the ExtFUSE research at Open Source Summit, an industry convention presented by the Linux Foundation, in Vancouver in August, where its widespread applicability garnered some industry attention from eBPF developers.
It may have started as a side project but complements his dissertation research on how to design a novel mobile storage architecture. For Bijlani, ExtFUSE has been a solo project so far without any industry support or research grants. However, he is open to the possibility and would like to collaborate with other researchers. He hopes to apply the extension to a number of domains built on FUSE and compile the results for an academic paper.