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Subjectdocument ext3 requirements
Using ext3 is only safe if storage subsystem meets certain
criteria. Document those.

Errors=remount-ro is documented as default, but superblock setting
overrides that and mkfs defaults to errors=continue... so the default
is errors=continue in practice.

readonly mount does actually write to the media in some cases. Document that.

Signed-off-by: Pavel Machek <>

diff --git a/Documentation/filesystems/ext3.txt b/Documentation/filesystems/ext3.txt
index 9dd2a3b..74a73b0 100644
--- a/Documentation/filesystems/ext3.txt
+++ b/Documentation/filesystems/ext3.txt
@@ -14,6 +14,9 @@ Options
When mounting an ext3 filesystem, the following option are accepted:
(*) == default

+ro Note that ext3 will replay the journal (and thus write
+ to the partition) even when mounted "read only".
journal=update Update the ext3 file system's journal to the current

@@ -95,6 +98,8 @@ debug Extra debugging information is sent to syslog.
errors=remount-ro(*) Remount the filesystem read-only on an error.
errors=continue Keep going on a filesystem error.
errors=panic Panic and halt the machine if an error occurs.
+ (Note that default is overriden by superblock
+ setting on most systems).

data_err=ignore(*) Just print an error message if an error occurs
in a file data buffer in ordered mode.
@@ -188,6 +193,34 @@ mke2fs: create a ext3 partition with the -j flag.
debugfs: ext2 and ext3 file system debugger.
ext2online: online (mounted) ext2 and ext3 filesystem resizer

+Ext3 expects disk/storage subsystem to behave sanely. On sanely
+behaving disk subsystem, data that have been successfully synced will
+stay on the disk. Sane means:
+* writes to media never fail. Even if disk returns error condition during
+ write, ext3 can't handle that correctly, because success on fsync was already
+ returned when data hit the journal.
+ (Fortunately writes failing are very uncommon on disks, as they
+ have spare sectors they use when write fails.)
+* either whole sector is correctly written or nothing is written during
+ powerfail.
+ (Unfortuantely, none of the cheap USB/SD flash cards I seen do behave
+ like this, and are unsuitable for ext3. Because RAM tends to fail
+ faster than rest of system during powerfail, special hw killing
+ DMA transfers may be neccessary. Not sure how common that problem
+ is on generic PC machines).
+* either write caching is disabled, or hw can do barriers and they are enabled.
+ (Note that barriers are disabled by default, use "barrier=1"
+ mount option after making sure hw can support them).

(cesky, pictures)

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