A virtual filesystem standard

Owen Taylor otaylor at redhat.com
Fri Sep 5 18:50:50 EEST 2003

On Fri, 2003-09-05 at 11:11, George Staikos wrote:
> On Friday 05 September 2003 10:46, Waldo Bastian wrote:
> > >   This could make certain things such as SSL support really difficult to
> > > properly implement.
> >
> > I don't see any problem actually. A program such as KEdit happily fetches
> > documents across https and it doesn't know anything about SSL.
> >
> > I think an out-of-process VFS standard is a good idea and I would be happy
> > to work on that.
>   The problem, as I stated, is that the GUI code is inside the VFS for this.  
> In fact, in some apps it's also in the app too.  It gets woven all through.  
> SSL was just not designed with async I/O in mind originally.  It requires all 
> kinds of settings to be shared between the app and the I/O code too.  See 
> KHTMLPart for instance.

I'm not sure that trying to look at what a full web browser does with
https:// as being "using a vfs" is going to work ... presumably the
interesting problem to be solved is having a consistent
way for all applications to use the same URI schemes to access
fish:, dav:, camera:, and so forth.

If the application needs to interact with a specific protocol in a
complicated fashion, then that may be better thought of as a library
for that protocol, which might be shared with the VFS backend.

GUI interactions do arise in simpler cases:

 - Prompt for a password
 - Put up one of those semi-useless dialogs warning about certificate
   probles, etc.

But these type of interactions seem to be well solved by a simple 
protocol using D-BUS to let the VFS backend talk to a "dialog server".

>   Also we have the need for kssld to synchronize sessions and the certificate 
> database across various io slaves.  This will be quite a challenge to 
> implement portably.  This is what I was referring to as the OpenLDAP 
> approach.  It's really quite aweful, and they're only dealing with a single 
> LDAP connection at a time, unlike HTTP.
>    It's doable of course, but it's quite complicated to get right in 
> comparison to the rest.

I'm not at all familiar with the issues here, but in general, I'd
think an out-of-process setup makes things easier, rather than harder.

After all, if I browse to an SSL DAV URI using my file manager, then
drag-and-drop the URI into my word processor, then the file manager and
the word processor need a synchronized view of certificates,
authentication, and so forth.


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