A common VFS and a Common conf-system [Part II]

Sean Middleditch elanthis at awesomeplay.com
Tue Mar 8 19:01:44 EET 2005

On Tue, 2005-03-08 at 11:37 -0500, gtg990h at mail.gatech.edu wrote:
> > They can patch GCC if they don't like any of those solutions.  Nothing
> > about D-VFS will make it impossible for non-desktop apps to use.  It's
> > just not something that a whole ton of time is being devoted to.
> That's not a very good answer. Like it or not, something like an IDE is a
> legitimate use-case here. Or something like a MySQL front-end, or a number of

It's the only answer feasible.  What other answer is there?  There's no
other possible solution except FUSE, which is Linux-only, which means
that it is completely unsuitable for our purposes.  If an application
wants to use D-VFS, nothing stops it from doing so except apathy or

> other applications in which 'desktop' and 'CLI' apps have to work together.
> We're talking about UNIX desktops here --- CLI apps won't just go away, and its
> useful to the user to allow them to work together.

Then they will need to be ported just like the desktop apps.  I'm rather
looking forward to getting some CLI apps using D-VFS, such as Vim.

> > When FUSE equivalents are in BSD, Solaris, HP-UX, Cygwin, Irix, etc.,
> > *then* it's worth taking into consideration.  Until then, FUSE is
> > absolutely useless to D-VFS, unless we code some huge and massively
> > different version just for Linux, which is both insane and pointless.
> That's also not a good answer. Foisting a particular paradigm of file-access on
> the user for the sake of portability is allowing implementation issues to affect
> interface issues. Maybe a proper remote file access method is just not possible
> on BSD, etc, at this time. That's their problem. Their problem should not burden
> users on Linux.

FreeDesktop isn't about just Linux, and neither is D-VFS.  End of story.
If you don't like that, there is nothing I can do about it.  If you use
Linux and want to write a FUSE adaptor for D-VFS so that all legacy apps
can use D-VFS, that is perfectly acceptable.  I'm completely expecting
this to happen, in fact.  I'd even use it.

FUSE itself is still, even on Linux, an unacceptable solution in the
general case.  It requires explicit mounting.  It can only use the very
limited POSIX API.  It's a hack.  The proper solution is to use a new
API.  Something that POSIX should have had from the very start, but
hindsight is 20/20.

> > Unfortunately, the "namespace" is already fragmented.  Many apps already
> > have their own built-in VFS systems, users are accoustomed to using many
> > custom apps to access different kinds of remote shares, GNOME and KDE
> > already have their VFS systems, etc.
> The fact that it is already that way doesn't make it a good thing. The fact
> gnome-vfs and KIO have their own weird view of the filesystem is something that
> I've heard people complain about on several occasions. D-VFS is a chance to fix
> that problem, instead of just perpetuating it.

It'll fix it to the best it is able to.

> > *unify* the VFS landscape by getting rid of the need to have a bazillion
> > separate systems that all do essentially the same thing.
> If you consider name unification to be a good thing, then D-VFS is broken from
> the beginning. By design, it creates a second parallel namespace. From an
> interface point of view, two vs four namespaces is no big deal. One vs two is an
> enormous deal.

Then old apps can move to the new system.  The old system is not
adequate, and nothing can really be done about this.  POSIX is simply
too limited of an API, especially for many of the protocols out there.
Mounting is not in any way an acceptable method of accessing ad-hoc
remote shares outside of the CLI.

Maybe there is a way to get a system-level unified VFS that does
everything you want.  D-VFS isn't it.  Someone else can invent the new
Linux-only magic-VFS,  D-VFS will make use of it if appropriate.  D-VFS
itself is NOT - I repeat, NOT - an effort to replace the entire UNIX
file system interface to what it should have been.  I'd welcome such an
effort if it ever happened, but do not expect D-VFS to ever become that
Sean Middleditch <elanthis at awesomeplay.com>

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