This week

All in all this was a pretty good week. My new job has been a lot of fun and it feels good to finally have a job where my skills are being used. The team has been very welcoming and are fun to work with.

My computer is back alive too… actually it was sometime before Monday but I don’t recall exactly when. Anyway, it’s quite zippy now. I also got a new 300GB drive at Fry’s, so I now have over a half terabyte of storage.

And on that note, I’ve been thinking today about filesystems. We have some good Linux-native filesystems like ext3 and reiserfs, and Windows has NTFS, but there is only one filesystem that both Windows and Linux can reliably read and write: FAT. But FAT has some irritating limitations, such as a maximum file size of 4GB. This is not optimal for use on a dual-boot system, but it’s the best option right now.

Has anyone looked at the possibility of designing and implementing a filesystem specifically designed to be portable between operating systems? Sure we have ext3 drivers for Windows and NTFS drivers for Linux, but neither of those options are really attractive. I’d like to see someone design a filesystem that works first to the lowest common denominator: store files. After that is finished more features could be added in a multiplatform-sensitive manner. For example, allow file metadata to be stored in some sort of tree dictionary, so each operating system could have its “own” set of metadata. Linux and Windows could store permissions there without clobbering the other’s data.

Even taking an existing filesystem like ext3 and modifying it for this purpose would be really handy, especially if the existing ext3 driver could handle it without destroying the metadata for other operating systems.

Just a thought. Comments welcome as usual.

4 Replies to “This week”

  1. well i don’t know if you have already herad, but since a few months there is a open source FUSE NTFS driver which supports writing to NTFS. On my box it is slower than writing to FAT but it does the job. Another option ist to use the UDF Filesystem which can not just only be used on optical media but also on harddiscs.

  2. I’m not exactly comfortable writing to NTFS from Linux, especially since I don’t know how it handles permissions and security descriptors.

    UDF is an interesting idea. I’ll have to look into it.

  3. That’s an interesting approach. I would be most interested to explore the security issues around dual-OS permissions. Say I have a protected folder in Linux on the drive. How do I grant permissions to a Windows user for that folder? Does that happen on the Windows side? If so how is security maintained?

    Basically I’m curious about what the interface between the two could be and how would security behave in relation to it.

    Your thoughts?

  4. You’re going to have to change your masthead. You aren’t a sophomore any longer…. although I like the word way better than “junior”. Sophomore literally means: “wise fool”. Cool.

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