GEOM is the main storage framework for the FreeBSD operating system. It is available in FreeBSD 5.0 and later releases, and provides a standardized way to access storage layers. GEOM is modular and allows for geom modules to connect to the framework. For example, the geom_mirror module provides RAID1 or mirroring functionality to the system. A number of modules are provided as part of FreeBSD and others have been developed independently and are distributed via (e.g.) GitHub.

GEOM was developed for the FreeBSD Project by Poul-Henning Kamp and NAI Labs, the Security Research Division of Network Associates, Inc. under DARPA/SPAWAR contract N66001-01-C-8035 ("CBOSS"), as part of the DARPA CHATS research program. The name symbolizes its impact on disk geometry.

Stacked design

Because of geom's modular design, modules can be 'stacked' together to form a chain of geom layers. For example, on top of the geom_mirror module an encryption module can be added, such as geom_eli to provide a mirrored and encrypted volume. Each module has both consumers and providers. A provider is the 'source' of the geom module, often a physical hard drive but sometimes a virtualized disk such as a memory disk. The geom module in turn provides an 'output' device. Other geom modules, called consumers, can use this provider to create a chain of modules connected to each other.

Source → geom module → Output

is referred to as:

Provider → geom module → Consumer(s)

For example, the geom_mirror module may use (as a consumer) the following providers: /dev/ada0, /dev/ada1, while it creates (as a provider) a new device called /dev/mirror/gm0. At the end of the geom chain, often a filesystem is applied to actually use the geom provider for something useful. The provider created by geom modules behaves just like a physical hard drive and as such can contain filesystems such as FreeBSD's native Unix File System (UFS).

Available modules

Storage modules[1]

Encryption and compression modules

Filesystem modules

Disk partitioning



  1. ^ Pawel Jakub Dawidek. "GEOM(8)". FreeBSD System Manager's Manual. Retrieved 2021-10-31.