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The main goal of the lwext4 project is to provide ext2/3/4 filesystem for microcontrollers. It may be an interesting alternative for traditional MCU filesystem libraries (mostly based on FAT32). Library has some cool and unique features in microcontrollers world:
 - directory indexing - fast file find and list operations
 - extents - fast big file truncate
 - journaling transactions & recovery - power loss resistance

Lwext4 is an excellent choice for SD/MMC card, USB flash drive or any other wear
leveled memory types. However it is not good for raw flash devices.

Feel free to contact me:


The most of the source code of lwext4 was taken from HelenOS:

Some features are based on FreeBSD and Linux implementations.

KaHo Ng (
* advanced extents implementation
* xattr support
* metadata checksum support
* journal recovery & transactions
* many bugfixes & improvements

Lwext4 could be used also as fuse internals. Here is a nice project which uses lwext4 as a filesystem base:

Some of the source files are licensed under GPLv2. It makes whole
lwext4 GPLv2 licensed. To use library as a BSD3, GPLv2 licensed source
files must be removed first. At this point there are two files
licensed under GPLv2:
* ext4_xattr.c

All other modules and headers are BSD-3-Clause licensed code.


* filetypes: regular, directories, softlinks
* support for hardlinks
* multiple blocksize supported: 1KB, 2KB, 4KB ... 64KB
* little/big endian architectures supported
* multiple configurations (ext2/ext3/ext4)
* only C standard library dependency
* various CPU architectures supported (x86/64, cortex-mX, msp430 ...)
* small memory footprint
* flexible configurations

Memory footprint

Advanced ext4 filesystem features, like extents or journaling require some memory. 
However most of the memory expensive features could be disabled at compile time.
Here is a brief summary for cortex-m4 processor:

* .text:  20KB - only ext2 fs support , 50KB - full ext4 fs feature set
* .data:  8KB - minimum 8 x 1KB  block cache, 12KB - when journaling and extents are enabled
* .stack: 2KB - is enough (not measured precisely)

Blocks are allocated dynamically. Previous versions of library could work without
malloc but from 1.0.0 dynamic memory allocation is required. However, block cache
should not allocate more than CONFIG_BLOCK_DEV CACHE_SIZE.

Supported ext2/3/4 features
*  filetype, recover, meta_bg, extents, 64bit, flex_bg: **yes**
*  compression, journal_dev, mmp, ea_inode, dirdata, bg_meta_csum, largedir, inline_data: **no**

*  has_journal, ext_attr, dir_index: **yes**
*  dir_prealloc, imagic_inodes, resize_inode: **no**

*  sparse_super, large_file, huge_file, gdt_csum, dir_nlink, extra_isize, metadata_csum: **yes**
*  quota, bigalloc, btree_dir: **no**

Project tree
*  blockdev         - block devices set, supported blockdev
*  fs_test          - test suite, mkfs and demo application
*  src              - source files
*  include          - header files
*  toolchain        - cmake toolchain files
*  CMakeLists.txt   - CMake config file
*  ext_images.7z    - compressed ext2/3/4 100MB images
*       - automatic tests definitions
*  Makefile         - helper makefile to generate cmake and run test suite
*       - readme file
* Windows 

Download MSYS-2:

Install required packages is MSYS2 Shell package manager:
 pacman -S make gcc cmake p7zip
* Linux 

Package installation (Debian):
 apt-get install make gcc cmake p7zip
Compile & install tools
 make generic
 cd build_generic
 sudo make install

lwext4-generic demo application
Simple lwext4 library test application:
* load ext2/3/4 images
* load linux block device with ext2/3/4 part
* load windows volume with ext2/3/4 filesystem 
* directory speed test
* file write/read speed test

How to use for images/blockdevices:
 lwext4-generic -i ext_images/ext2 
 lwext4-generic -i ext_images/ext3 
 lwext4-generic -i ext_images/ext4 
Show full option set:
 lwext4-generic --help

Run automatic tests

Execute tests for 100MB unpacked images:
 make test
Execute tests for autogenerated 1GB images (only on Linux targets) + fsck:
 make test_all
Using lwext4-mkfs tool
It is possible to create ext2/3/4 partition by internal library tool.

Generate empty file (1GB):
 dd if=/dev/zero of=ext_image bs=1M count=1024
Create ext2 partition:
 lwext4-mkfs -i ext_image -e 2
Create ext3 partition:
 lwext4-mkfs -i ext_image -e 3
Create ext4 partition:
 lwext4-mkfs -i ext_image -e 4
Show full option set:
 lwext4-mkfs --help

Cross compile standalone library
Toolchains needed:

Lwext4 could be compiled for many targets. Here are an examples for 8/16/32/64 bit architectures.
* generic for x86 or amd64
* arm-none-eabi-gcc for ARM cortex-m0/m3/m4 microcontrollers
* avr-gcc for AVR xmega microcontrollers
* bfin-elf-gcc for blackfin processors
* msp430-gcc for msp430 microcontrollers

Library has been tested only for generic (amd64) & ARM Cortex M architectures.
For other targets compilation passes (with warnings somewhere) but tests are
not done yet. Lwext4 code is written with endianes respect. Big endian
behavior also hasn't been tested yet.

Build avrxmega7 library:
 make avrxmega7
 cd build_avrxmega7
 make lwext4

Build cortex-m0 library:
 make cortex-m0
 cd build_cortex-m0
 make lwext4

Build cortex-m3 library:
 make cortex-m3
 cd build_cortex-m3
 make lwext4

Build cortex-m4 library:
 make cortex-m4
 cd build_cortex-m4
 make lwext4

Last 5 commits (shortlog)
Date Author Short message Commit hash
2021-03-02 Sigrid whoops... daa4ea36405306c163e2704ec8e83e4b6976cb02
2021-03-01 Sigrid ext4 journal: data is not *always* set despite success, add an assert to spot this specific issue dd9afaebb842141fa01d09a7296e91be5915cd26
2021-03-01 Sigrid rb trees: break out of the loop when parent is NULL 5b99cfc34279cd95c82510c4404b6625170dbdfb
2021-01-18 Sigrid fix locks e92d26d0e1e1e52f4f9a8f81865e56f7aad5ff57
2020-11-15 Sigrid use usize d7ff253da29b9e67963089f83160fda5f0c5afeb
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