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SubjectRe: silent semantic changes with reiser4
Rik van Riel <> said:
> On Thu, 26 Aug 2004, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> > So "/tmp/bash" is _not_ two different things. It is _one_ entity, that
> > contains both a standard data stream (the "file" part) _and_ pointers to
> > other named streams (the "directory" part).

> Thinking about it some more, how would file managers and
> file chosers handle this situation ?
> Currently the user browses the directory tree and when
> the user clicks on something, one of the following
> happens:
> 1) if it is a directory, the file manager/choser changes
> into that directory
> 2) if it is a file, the file is opened

And now you have a mess. Is it "really" a file, or a directory? Why not
just keep both well apart, and stay happy? I just fail to see what could be
gained by having directories that really aren't, and files that aren't
either. Use a directory if you want one, use a file elsewhere.

> Now how do we present things to users ?
> How will users know when an object can only be chdired
> into, or only be opened ?

Easy: It is a directory, or it isn't.

> For objects that do both, how does the user choose ?

Don't give silly choices.

> Do we really want to have a file paradigm that's different
> from the other OSes out there ?

I vote "no". There are/have been OSes with weird "files", none of them
survived to get anywhere as popular as Unix and "file == stream of
bytes". Even with much simpler variants like files as sequences of
records. For a good reason: The Unix way is simple, and extremely flexible,
as my proggie can define at its own whim how to handle what's inside. If a
single stream isn't enough, we have directories. No need to innovate there.

> What happens when users want to transfer data from Linux
> to another system ?

Or between Linux systems with different kernels that happen to implement
different views/metadata on files.
Please do remember devfs: It sounded like a cool idea, got into the kernel
just to be thrown out later because nobody used it. Much heat was
generated, nothing of permanent value. This looks the same: A very vocal
tiny minority is clamoring for something completely non-Unix for totally
bogus reasons. What happened to "code talks, bullshit walks"? There is _no_
code (== real-world, user programs that can't be done efficiently enough
without this), so this nonsense should just be thrown out, and everybody go
back to real hacking.
Dr. Horst H. von Brand User #22616
Departamento de Informatica Fono: +56 32 654431
Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria +56 32 654239
Casilla 110-V, Valparaiso, Chile Fax: +56 32 797513
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