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    SubjectRe: rfc: test whether a device has a partition table

    On Thu, 25 Sep 2003, Andries Brouwer wrote:
    >
    > Ha, Linus - didn't you know I am always right?

    Yeah, sure. But ...

    > But being right in theory - like you say, I have repeated these
    > things for many years - is not enough to submit a kernel patch.
    > The post of today was prompted by a mail about
    > certain USB devices:
    >
    > > On closer examination it seems to be the partition table
    > > which is read ok (as one partition) on W2K and XP
    > > but Linux (both 2.4 and 2.6) gets really confused and
    > > thinks there are 4 malformed partitions.

    So? There's a bug, and we'll fix it.

    The _worst_ thing that can happen is that you have four extra (totally
    bogus) partitions, and you end up using the whole device.

    That's my point about partitioning - not that it's necessarily perfect,
    but even when it _isn't_ perfect, it's no worse than not partitioning at
    all.

    I know you don't want the kernel to partition at all. But I don't see your
    point.

    > > Linux probably needs to handle this situation more
    > > gracefully. A local police force bought a bunch of
    > > these devices for Linux based forensic work. They
    > > are a bit disappointed at the moment.
    >
    > So, now not only theory but also practice is involved, and
    > we must do something.

    Why don't they just read the whole device, if that is what they want to
    do?

    So we have two cases:
    a) we have a bug in the partitioning code, and don't parse the partition
    table right:
    - let's fix the bug
    b) people don't want to read the partition info at all, as it's bogus
    - use the whole-device node.

    In neither case is your "the kernel shouldn't guess" argument the answer,
    as far as I can see. And in both cases you _can_ fix it up in user mode if
    you know how, so clearly the kernel was no worse off guessing.

    Linus

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