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Reiser4 is the "new" (circa 2004) successor filesystem for ReiserFS, developed from scratch by Namesys and Hans Reiser. It is very efficient for handling small files (often used in /var for this purpose) and includes features such as cheap transparent compression and block suballocation. Because it is an atomic file system "your file system operations either entirely occur, or they entirely don't, and they do not corrupt due to half occurring." Benchmarks with other linux filesystems are also available.

Important Notes

  • Reiser4 requires a patched kernel
  • It consumes a little more CPU than other filesystems
  • It is developed for the 2.6 kernel and not backported for 2.4
  • Even Lilo as the only bootloader officially supporting Reiser4 seems to have issues with it when /boot is formatted as Reiser4
  • It is still not considered stable
Tip: Gparted LiveCD is a small Linux distribution booting straight into Gparted. It also supports Reiser4


1. Install reiser4progsAUR from AUR

2. You'll need a reiser4 patched kernel. Unfortunately, it has yet not been ported into 3.0 kernel. You can check out here for the progress:

3. Bootloader (Optional, only needed if you want to format your / (root) as reiser4)

Note: Backing up your bootloader configuration file should be considered.

a) Recomended: make a small (as mentioned above, 20-200mb) partition for /boot with a filesystem other than Reiser4 with Gparted, and then copy your /boot folder to the partition. Update your bootloader config accordingly, eg. with Grub2 do:

# grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

b) If you wish to put everything including /boot on a Reiser4 partition you'll need to use Lilo. This is not advised, as you'll probably get an error when trying to update lilo.conf:

# lilo

4. Reboot

Note: The following steps are for using Reiser4 as your / (root). If you just want to use Reiser in /var (or whatever) you should modify the following instructions according to your needs.

Moving to Reiser4

In the next steps we'll copy the data from your current root partition to the new Reiser4 partitions. Make sure you have enough disk space on the Reiser4 partition with:

# df -h

Sample system

# fdisk -l
* /dev/sda1: (10 Gb, 5 Gb free); Reiserfs /mnt/reiser4
* /dev/sda2: (10 Gb, 10 Gb free); Reiser4 /
* /dev/sda3: (200 Mb, 180 Mb free); ext2 /boot


Run the following commands:

mkfs.reiser4 /dev/sdaX
mkdir /mnt/reiser4
mount -t reiser4 /dev/sdaX /mnt/reiser4
Note: With X being your partition number!

It is recommended that you use the Cryptcompress plugin by formatting with the following command:

mkfs.reiser4 -o create=ccreg40,compress=lzo1 /dev/sdaX

Copy system

Once the partition is formated, copy you current system to the new partition and create the system directories. You may either do this from Arch Linux, or to make it easier (so that you do not have to use makedev later), just boot up with the Gparted LiveCD and mount both your new Reiser4 partition and your current root partition. Then, just copy everything over (as root) like so:

cd /mnt
mkdir oldroot
mkdir reiser4
mount /dev/sdaX oldroot
mount /dev/sdaY reiser4 (the Reiser4 partition)
cp -R -a /mnt/oldroot/* /mnt/reiser4/

Then, you need to mount your /boot partition, and if you haven't already, copy /boot from your original root partition over to it.

Note: It is suggested to empty your /boot from the Reiser4 partition to use it as a mountpoint, which is reflected later in your fstab
mkdir bootpart
mount /dev/sdaZ bootpart
cp -R -a /mnt/oldroot/boot/* /mnt/bootpart/

Don't forget to edit your bootloader's config appropriately (see examples at the bottom of the article).

Note: In case you upgraded grub before rebooting you may need to manually install grub to your /boot partition, otherwise, things may break and prevent you from booting. In this case using a LiveCD to Chroot and would be your last hope.


Note: If you can confirm that Reiser4 works for you, you should format the old root partition.

# /etc/fstab: static file system information
# <file system>	<dir>	      <type>  <options>	         <dump>	<pass>
devpts          /dev/pts      devpts  defaults             0      0
shm             /dev/shm      tmpfs   nodev,nosuid         0      0
tmpfs           /tmp          tmpfs   nodev,noexec,nosuid  0      0

/dev/sda1       /             reiser4 defaults,noatime,notail 0   1
/dev/sda2       /mnt/oldroot  ext4    defaults                0   0
/dev/sda3       /boot         ext2    defaults                0   1

Bootloader Examples


# (0) Arch Linux
title  Arch Linux
set root=(hd0,msdos3)
kernel /vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/sda3 ro noatime notail acl init=/usr/bin/bootchartd
initrd /initramfs-linux.img

# (1) Arch Linux
title  Arch Linux Fallback
set root=(hd0,msdos3)
kernel /vlinuz-linux root=/dev/sda3 ro
initrd /initramfs-linux-fallback.img

Run grub-mkconfig to update your config:

# grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg


# /etc/lilo.conf

# This line often fixes L40 errors on bootup
# disk=/dev/hda bios=0x80


        append="video=vesafb:1024x768-24@56,ywrap,mtrr splash=verbose,theme:darch console=tty1 resume2=swap:/dev/hdb1"

        append="video=vesafb:1024x768-24@56,ywrap,mtrr splash=verbose,theme:darch console=tty1 resume2=swap:/dev/hdb1"

Run lilo to update your config:

# lilo


  • Permissions: chown -R <userdir>
  • If you have problem with su command after the change of fs, you should reinstall coreutils package.