M$ to license FAT

Taavi Burns taavi-LbuTpDkqzNzXI80/IeQp7B2eb7JE58TQ at public.gmane.org
Wed Dec 10 03:03:23 UTC 2003

On Tue, Dec 09, 2003 at 07:46:42PM -0500, Tim Writer wrote:
> Taavi Burns <taavi-LbuTpDkqzNzXI80/IeQp7B2eb7JE58TQ at public.gmane.org> writes:
> > Most (all?) of the standard Flash memory devices these days have onboard
> > controllers which can detect failing sectors in the flash memory, and will
> > reroute data to spare sectors, much as HDs do these days.
> Are you sure?  The JFFS2 folks don't seem to think so and anecdotal evidence
> seems to bear me out.

It may be that not all spare sectors are created equal.  Also, if one exhausts
all of the spare sectors, you're stills screwed.  I can see how JFFS2 might
extend the life of flash memory devices in either case.  There may also be
differences between different flash devices.  CompactFlash is basically
IDE.  I don't know about the others.

> > > In fact, many (most?) such products already come with software from the
> > > manufacturer, even if it's not stricly necessary.
> > 
> > But do you want to encourage this behaviour?
> No, but this is a way of life that Windows users are used to.  Moving to
> JFFS2 (or any trusty, open source file system) would make Linux easier to use
> at the expense of Windows.  Wouldn't that be nice, for a change?

It would be.  I'm not convinced that it'd be the industry's best course of
action at this time, however.

> > And how many distros come with JFFS2 drivers?
> Not many at present, I expect.  How many came with ext3 when it first came
> out?

Ah, but at least ext3 and ext2 are interoperable, much like FAT and VFAT.

> Cost (because it would appear to be minimal) isn't the issue.  The concern is
> that Linux could be forced to drop FAT support (due to patent infringement)
> making these devices less convenient to use from within Linux.  An open
> source alternative like JFFS2 is a win-win solution.

But that's what I've been saying.  FAT support is NOT IN QUESTION.  VFAT support
is.  Now if you want to write files with VFAT long filenames for your device
to use, because those are the only ones it understands, then you're screwed.  But
so far nobody seems intersted in doing that, because nobody's seen fit to bother
with VFAT support on these embedded devices.

And if M$ tries to go after USB memory key vendors over VFAT patents, they're very
very stupid, or have an ace already in the hole that we don't know about.  VFAT
simply uses otherwise unused space in the FAT file table to store the long filenames.
That's what these patents are all about.

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