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Data Storage Microsoft Open Source Patents Linux

Open Source ExFAT File System Reaches 1.0 Status 151

Titus Andronicus writes "fuse-exfat, a GPLv3 implementation of the exFAT file system for Linux, FreeBSD, and OS X, has reached 1.0 status, according to an announcement from Andrew Nayenko, the primary developer. exFAT is a file system designed for sneaker-netting terabyte-scale files and groups of files on flash drives and memory cards between and among Windows, OS X, and consumer electronics devices. It was introduced by Microsoft in late 2006. Will fuse-exfat cut into Microsoft's juicy exFAT licensing revenue? Will Microsoft litigate fuse-exfat's developers and users into patent oblivion? Will there be a DKMS dynamic kernel module version of the software, similar to the ZFS on Linux project? All that remains to be seen. ReadWrite, The H, and Phoronix cover the story."
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Open Source ExFAT File System Reaches 1.0 Status

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  • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:55PM (#42674741) Homepage

    Microsoft has already won by having ExtFAT part of the SDXC spec, so every big SD card comes with it. The only thing the Open Source world can do is damage control by implementing it and thus staying useful.

  • by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:06PM (#42674899)

    Am I allowed to use this implementation?

    Depends on what you want to use for: as a form of expression, you should be able to. Use the binary form to read/write, all depends on the MS patents and whether or not MS grants you a license.

    Will Microsoft litigate fuse-exfat's developers and users into patent oblivion?

    Regarding developers: the software is posted as source [] code with instructions on how to [] install them from source. Being source code, is a form of expression, protected by copyright. As such, can a commercial entity try to block the dissemination of the "speech" that the source code constitutes?
    Mind you, any existing patents should not play any role into it: after all a patent is a public disclosure of methods/constructs that constitute the invention (the text of the patent is not copyrighted), so the source code should not be anything but an alternative form of expression of the same.

    Regarding users: yes, using the compiled binaries would violate the temporary monopoly granted by any existing patents. However, I can't imagine any corporations starting to track which hobbyist home users:
    1. downloaded the source code - should not be, per se, illegal - the copyleft license allows you to do it and the patent should not trump the copyright.
    2. for each of them, ask for a discovery to see if that source code has been compiled - again, compilation should not be illegal, I'm obtaining a derivative form of expression and the GPL copyright license allows me to do it
    3. use the binary - this is the only step that would violate the patent

  • by kangasloth ( 114799 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:09PM (#42674933) Homepage

    Ext2/3/4 sucks as an interchange format. In short, it does too much. Any filesystem sufficiently complex to support real workloads is going to impose an excessive implementation burden for sneakernet. The bizarre thing is that we have a minimalist filesystem that can represent the file model with fidelity (large files, unicode names, etc) that is implemented in every modern OS: UDF. If it can read DVDs, it can read UDF and every general purpose OS released in the last decade can write to the appropriate version, 2.01. Not for nothing is it called the Universal Disk Format.

    The real mystery is how did Microsoft con an industry into paying for such a lousy alternative to UDF. SDXC requires exFAT, so every new camera and anything else that hopes to read these high capacity sdcards has to cope with licensing requirements. WTF.

All seems condemned in the long run to approximate a state akin to Gaussian noise. -- James Martin