A revamp of Sun Microsystems’ ZettaByte File System is done, and the software has been incorporated into Solaris and soon will be publicly available in a trial version, according to a lead programmer on the project. The software controls how computers store data on storage systems, and Sun boasts of ZFS’s reliability, flexibility, capacity and administration ease.

“ZFS will hit the street in a couple of weeks via Solaris Express,” said lead ZFS architect Jeff Bonwick in his blog Monday. Solaris Express is free, but unlike full-fledged Solaris, it includes nearly final features so customers can get a taste before they’re included in the final, fully supported version of the operating system.

Sun earlier had hoped to include the new file system in a 2005 update to Solaris 10, but ZFS slipped to 2006 so some parts of the software could be reworked. In October, Sun said ZFS is expected to be final in early to mid-2006.

Sun wants to get ZFS right before it’s released; the company believes ZFS will be the last file system ever needed. ZFS replaces the Unix File System (UFS), whose roots lie in the Berkeley Fast File System developed in the 1980s, but ZFS has been developed from scratch.

One feature that underlies Sun’s opinions about ZFS’s longevity is its 128-bit address space. In an earlier blog entry, Bonwick said a 64-bit address space, while vast, might well be what a single high-end storage system can accommodate in 2014. “Storage systems tend to live for several decades, so it would be foolish to create a new one without anticipating the needs that will surely arise within its projected lifetime,” Bonwick said. (And because a single instance of ZFS can span a pool of many storage systems, it could reach a 64-bit limit sooner.)