In the following paragraph, does the author mean Linux distributions finally adopted ZFS or, they are reluctant/refuse to adopt ZFS?

Additionally, after a bit of an hiatus it’s once again possible to install Ubuntu using ZFS (Zettabyte File System). Nice to see this interesting, featured file system back – especially since many Linux distributions swerve supporting it at all.

As far as I know, at all is used "at the end of a clause to give emphasis in negative statements, conditional clauses, and questions". (Collins Dictionary)

So the above statment means, Linux distributions supported ZFS before, but decide to give it up finally? Google translate told me that this sentence means, ZFS is gradually adopted by more and more Linux distributions, although they were reluctant to support it before?

BTW, the author is a native British person.

  • 1
    Ubuntu used to support ZFS, then it didn't, and now it does again. Many other (non-Ubuntu) Linux distributions have always avoided supporting ZFS. Sep 25 at 2:12
  • It makes sense, so, google translator misled me... The reason I use translator is that I cannot understand "swerve" here, and I am not native English speaker.
    – xrfang
    Sep 25 at 3:34
  • 5
    'swerve supporting it at all' means 'do not support it in any way / to any degree';; this sense of 'swerve' for 'avoid' / 'eschew' seems novel (and hence non-standard). Sep 25 at 13:17
  • Five will get you ten the author stuck his thumb in a thesaurus and pulled out swerve and didn't bother to see if it can be used as a transitive verb.
    – TimR
    Sep 25 at 20:03
  • 1
    "Swerve" does have a transitive sense, but it applies more to a vehicle (swerve the car), than to an obstacle. You can swerve around an obstacle, but you don't swerve the obstacle. Sep 25 at 21:59

3 Answers 3


If you are driving along and you see an animal in the path of your car, you will swerve (suddenly change direction before returning to your original path after you've passed the animal) to avoid hitting it.

The use of the verb swerve, in the example, is a metaphor for driving round something you don't want to hit or encounter. In other words, in this context, it means avoid.

The negative polarity item at all can be used wherever there is a negative meaning buried in the clause. Here to swerve doing something means to avoid doing it. And if you avoid doing it, you don't do it. It is this negative meaning which makes the use of at all possible here. You wouldn't be able to use it otherwise:

  • *They reluctantly supported ZFS at all. (ungrammatical)

"especially since many Linux distributions swerve supporting it at all."

Where the word "swerve" appears, "avoid" would make sense, and "at all" would simply add negative emphasis to "avoid".
I can't understand "swerve" at all!

  • “Swerve” seems to be short for “swerve away from.”
    – Xanne
    Sep 25 at 3:52
  • As long as it implies a negative, at all is OK. Sep 25 at 14:24
  • 1
    I suspect that the author confused "swerve" with "dodge"; the latter is used metaphorically more often.
    – alphabet
    Sep 25 at 18:41

at all = "in any degree, in any way, to any extent, not even the slightest bit, not even the tiniest amount".

I don't like okra at all. [no okra for me, ugh]

After he lost everything he had in the poker game, he was left with no money at all. [not even a penny]

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