[][src]Crate scfs

SCFS – SplitCatFS

A convenient splitting and concatenating filesystem.



While setting up a cloud based backup and archive solution, I encountered the following phenomenon: Many small files would get uploaded quite fast and – depending on the actual cloud storage provider – highly concurrently, while big files tend to slow down the whole process. The explanation is simple, many cloud storage providers do not support concurrent or chunked uploads of a single file, sometimes they would not even support resuming a partial upload. You would need to upload it in one go, sequentially one byte at a time, it's all or nothing.

Now consider a scenario, where you upload a huge file, like a mirror of your Raspberry Pi's SD card with the system and configuration on it. I have such a file, it is about 4 GB big. Now, while backing up my system, this was the last file to be uploaded. According to ETA calculations, it would have taken several hours, so I let it run overnight. The next morning I found out that after around 95% of upload process, my internet connection vanished for just a few seconds, but long enough for the transfer tool to abort the upload. The temporary file got deleted from the cloud storage, so I had to start from zero again. Several hours of uploading wasted.

I thought of a way to split big files, so that I can upload it more efficiently, but I came to the conclusion, that manually splitting files, uploading them, and deleting them afterwards locally, is not a very scalable solution.

So I came up with the idea of a special filesystem. A filesystem that would present big files as if they were many small chunks in separate files. In reality, the chunks would all point to the same physical file, only with different offsets. This way I could upload chunked files in parallel without losing too much progress, even if the upload gets aborted midway.

SplitFS was born.

If I download such chunked file parts, I would need to call cat * >file afterwards to re-create the actual file. This seems like a similar hassle like manually splitting files. That's why I had also CatFS in mind, when developing SCFS. CatFS will concatenate chunked files transparently and present them as complete files again.

Why Rust?

I am relatively new to Rust and I thought, the best way to deepen my understanding with Rust is to take on a project that would require dedication and a certain knowledge of the language.


SCFS can be installed easily through Cargo via crates.io:

cargo install scfs



To mount a directory with SplitFS, use the following form:

scfs --mode=split <base directory> <mount point>

This can be simplified by using the dedicated splitfs binary:

splitfs <base directory> <mount point>

The directory specified as mount point will now reflect the content of base directory, replacing each regular file with a directory that contains enumerated chunks of that file as separate files.

It is possible to use a custom block size for the file fragments. For example, to use 1 MB chunks instead of the default size of 2 MB, you would go with:

splitfs --blocksize=1048576 <base directory> <mount point>

Where 1048576 is 1024 * 1024, so one megabyte in bytes.

You can even leverage the calculating power of your Shell, like for example in Bash:

splitfs --blocksize=$((1024 * 1024)) <base directory> <mount point>

New since v0.9.0: The block size may now also be given with a symbolic quantifier. Allowed quantifiers are "K", "M", "G", and "T", each one multiplying the base with 1024. So, to set the block size to 1 MB like in the example above, you can now use:

splitfs --blocksize=1M <base directory> <mount point>

You can actually go as far as to set a block size of one byte, but be prepared for a ridiculous amount of overhead or maybe even a system freeze because the metadata table grows too large.


To mount a directory with CatFS, use the following form:

scfs --mode=cat <base directory> <mount point>

This can be simplified by using the dedicated catfs binary:

catfs <base directory> <mount point>

Please note that base directory needs to be a directory structure that has been generated by SplitFS. CatFS will refuse mounting the directory otherwise.

The directory specified as mount point will now reflect the content of base directory, replacing each directory with chunked files in it as single files.

Additional FUSE mount options

It is possible to pass additional mount options to the underlying FUSE library.

SCFS supports two ways of specifying options, either via the "-o" option, or via additional arguments after a "--" separator. This is in accordance to other FUSE based filesystems like EncFS.

These two calls are equivalent:

scfs --mode=split -o nonempty mirror mountpoint
scfs --mode=split mirror mountpoint -- nonempty

Of course, these methods also work in the splitfs and catfs binaries.

Daemon mode

Originally, SCFS was meant to be run in the foreground. This proved to be annoying if one wants to use the same terminal for further work. Granted, one could always use features of their Shell to send the process to the background, but then you have a background process that might accidentally be killed if the user closes terminal. Furthermore, SCFS originally did not terminate cleanly if the user unmounted it by external means.

Since v0.9.0, SCFS natively supports daemon mode, in that the program changes its working directory to "/" and then forks itself into a true daemon process, independent of the running terminal.

splitfs --daemon mirror mountpoint

Note that mirror and mountpoint are resolved before changing the working directory, so they can still be given relative to the current working directory.

To unmount, fusermount can be used:

fusermount -u mountpoint


I consider this project no longer a "raw prototype", and I am eating my own dog food, meaning I use it in my own backup strategies and create features based on my personal needs.

However, this might not meet the needs of the typical user and without feedback I might not even think of some scenarios to begin with.

Specifically, these are the current limitations of SCFS:

  • It should work an all UNIX based systems, like Linux and maybe some MacOS versions, however without MacOS specific file attributes. But definitely not on Windows, since this would need special handling of system calls, which I haven't had time to take care of yet.

  • It can only work with directories, regular files, and symlinks. Every other file types (device files, pipes, and so on) will be silently ignored.

  • The base directory will be mounted read-only in the new mount point, and SCFS expects that the base directory will not be altered while mounted.