Oracle Solaris ZFS Administration Guide

Overview of ZFS Clones

A clone is a writable volume or file system whose initial contents are the same as the dataset from which it was created. As with snapshots, creating a clone is nearly instantaneous and initially consumes no additional disk space. In addition, you can snapshot a clone.

Clones can only be created from a snapshot. When a snapshot is cloned, an implicit dependency is created between the clone and snapshot. Even though the clone is created somewhere else in the dataset hierarchy, the original snapshot cannot be destroyed as long as the clone exists. The origin property exposes this dependency, and the zfs destroy command lists any such dependencies, if they exist.

Clones do not inherit the properties of the dataset from which it was created. Use the zfs get and zfs set commands to view and change the properties of a cloned dataset. For more information about setting ZFS dataset properties, see Setting ZFS Properties.

Because a clone initially shares all its disk space with the original snapshot, its used property value is initially zero. As changes are made to the clone, it uses more disk space. The used property of the original snapshot does not include the disk space consumed by the clone.

Creating a ZFS Clone

To create a clone, use the zfs clone command, specifying the snapshot from which to create the clone, and the name of the new file system or volume. The new file system or volume can be located anywhere in the ZFS hierarchy. The new dataset is the same type (for example, file system or volume) as the snapshot from which the clone was created. You cannot create a clone of a file system in a pool that is different from where the original file system snapshot resides.

In the following example, a new clone named tank/home/ahrens/bug123 with the same initial contents as the snapshot tank/ws/gate@yesterday is created:

# zfs snapshot tank/ws/gate@yesterday
# zfs clone tank/ws/gate@yesterday tank/home/ahrens/bug123

In the following example, a cloned workspace is created from the projects/newproject@today snapshot for a temporary user as projects/teamA/tempuser. Then, properties are set on the cloned workspace.

# zfs snapshot projects/newproject@today
# zfs clone projects/newproject@today projects/teamA/tempuser
# zfs set sharenfs=on projects/teamA/tempuser
# zfs set quota=5G projects/teamA/tempuser

Destroying a ZFS Clone

ZFS clones are destroyed by using the zfs destroy command. For example:

# zfs destroy tank/home/ahrens/bug123

Clones must be destroyed before the parent snapshot can be destroyed.

Replacing a ZFS File System With a ZFS Clone

You can use the zfs promote command to replace an active ZFS file system with a clone of that file system. This feature enables you to clone and replace file systems so that the original file system becomes the clone of the specified file system. In addition, this feature makes it possible to destroy the file system from which the clone was originally created. Without clone promotion, you cannot destroy an original file system of active clones. For more information about destroying clones, see Destroying a ZFS Clone.

In the following example, the tank/test/productA file system is cloned and then the clone file system, tank/test/productAbeta, becomes the original tank/test/productA file system.

# zfs create tank/test
# zfs create tank/test/productA
# zfs snapshot tank/test/productA@today
# zfs clone tank/test/productA@today tank/test/productAbeta
# zfs list -r tank/test
NAME                       USED  AVAIL  REFER  MOUNTPOINT
tank/test                  104M  66.2G    23K  /tank/test
tank/test/productA         104M  66.2G   104M  /tank/test/productA
tank/test/productA@today      0      -   104M  -
tank/test/productAbeta        0  66.2G   104M  /tank/test/productAbeta
# zfs promote tank/test/productAbeta
# zfs list -r tank/test
NAME                           USED  AVAIL  REFER  MOUNTPOINT
tank/test                      104M  66.2G    24K  /tank/test
tank/test/productA                0  66.2G   104M  /tank/test/productA
tank/test/productAbeta         104M  66.2G   104M  /tank/test/productAbeta
tank/test/productAbeta@today      0      -   104M  -

In this zfs list output, note that the disk space accounting information for the original productA file system has been replaced with the productAbeta file system.

You can complete the clone replacement process by renaming the file systems. For example:

# zfs rename tank/test/productA tank/test/productAlegacy
# zfs rename tank/test/productAbeta tank/test/productA
# zfs list -r tank/test

Optionally, you can remove the legacy file system. For example:

# zfs destroy tank/test/productAlegacy