Online ext2 and ext3 Filesystem Resizing

It is difficult to predict the future, yet this is what you have to do each time you partition a disk. There are several HOWTOs giving advice on ways to partition a disk for Linux, yet everyone's usage pattern is different. Invariably, your filesystems fill up, often in the middle of doing something important.

With the advent of Linux LVM in 1999, Linux was finally getting to the stage where one could add space to "partitions" dynamically. The missing link was allowing the widely-used ext2 filesystem to grow to use newly added disk space without having to kill your applications, unmount the filesystem, do an offline resize (which was in its infancy at that time also), and remount the filesystem.

We start with a brief overview of the layout of the ext2 filesystem to give an understanding of the constraints behind the design of the online ext2 resizer. The three ext2 resizing scenarios are discussed, and implementation of each case is presented. The rationale behind offline filesystem preparation is given, and the (incompatible and yet unimplemented) alternative is presented. We continue with the requirements for ext3 online resizing discuss how this leads to a totally different implementation.

...

Download PDF.