Theodore Ts'o offered an insightful summary of issues affecting future development on the ext3 filesystem, "it is clear that many people feel they have a stake in the future development plans of the ext2/ext3 filesystem, as it [is] one of the most popular and commonly used filesystems, particular amongst the kernel development community. For this reason, the stakes are higher than it would be for other filesystems." He listed the three main concerns for future development as stability, compatibility confusion, and code complexity, "unfortunately, these various concerns were sometimes mixed together in the discussion two months ago, and so it was hard to make progress. Linus's concern seems to have been primarily the first point, with perhaps a minor consideration of the 3rd. Others dwelled very heavily on the second point."
Theodore went on to say, "to address these issues, after discussing the matter amongst ourselves, the ext2/3 developers would like to propose the following path forward." He listed a four step plan beginning with the creation of a new ext4 filesystem registered with the kernel temporarily as 'ext3dev', "this will be explicitly marked as an CONFIG_EXPERIMENTAL filesystem, and will in affect be a 'development fork' of ext3. A similar split of the fs/jbd will be made in order to support 64-bit jbd, which will be used by fs/ext4 and future versions of ocfs2." Theodore explained that new features will go into the ext3dev tree, with only bugfixes making their way back to the stable ext3 tree. He noted that it will remain important that the ext4 code base can mount ext3 filesystems, "this is necessary to ensure a future smooth upgrade path from ext3 to ext4 users." Finally, "probably in 6-9 months when we are satisified with the set of features that have been added to fs/ext4, and confident that the filesystem format has stablized, we will submit a patch which causes the fs/ext4 code to register itself as the ext4 filesystem." He further noted that once ext4 is deemed fully stable, it may completely replace ext3 in the source tree.