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SubjectI oppose Chris and Jeff's patch to add an unnecessary additional namespace to ReiserFS
Adding additional namespaces is not a trivial thing to do, though it 
always seems so minor to the person driven by marketing to quickly hack
something in.

The xattr namespace offers zero functional advantage over the file
namespace. The use of '.' instead of '/' is idiotic, see the very short
paper "The Hideous Name" by Rob Pike (
) for why mindlessly varying the separators in hierarchical names
throughout an OS is a bad idea.

V4 of ReiserFS accesses all file attributes via the filesystem namespace
(see our mainpage at, there is a section on semantics in
it). In V4, attributes are just files with peculiar qualities, kind of
like the files in /proc have peculiar qualities. V4 adds some
additional functionality to the filesystem namespace to make this more
effective (accessing multiple files in one system call, etc.).

Namespaces are the roads and waterways of an operating system. The cost
of developing an operating system is proportional to how many components
you build into it. Namespaces are part of what determines whether that
cost is linear with the number of components, or something worse.

The expressive power of an operating system is NOT proportional to the
number of components, but instead is proportional to the number of
possible connections between its components. If you fragment the
namespaces of an OS, you reduce each component to effective interactions
with only those components in its reduced size namespace. Designing the
namespaces of an OS so that they possess closure and are unified may
seem like a lot of effort, but it is very cost effective compared to
building many times more other OS components to get the same expressive

In the free software community you have to produce working code to be
paid attention to. We are doing that. Chris is sending his patch in at
this time in part because V4 is about to make his work completely
obsolete. At the time he started to write the patch he was told that
ReiserFS was taking this other approach, and his patch would never be
accepted so he should not write it. DARPA was then convinced to fund us
to do the other approach, and we accepted $600k in funding to (among
other things) extend the filesystem namespace to access security
attributes effectively. I have no desire to change direction at the
last moment before we ship V4 so as to become less elegant. I also view
V3 as stable code that should not be disturbed more than minimally
necessary, and I desire for all new functionality to go into V4 (Chris
was also told that before his patch was written).

Making it possible to unify operating system namespaces was why ReiserFS
was created. I am not in this for the money. Pasting in an additional
namespace beyond what Unix had for short term marketing reasons violates
its soul, and I have no desire to provide support for it as it
complicates one feature at a time over 30 years.

Please, let our competing solution of more unified naming have this
ecological niche it can survive in long enough to see if it is the right
longterm direction for Linux. It is more work to be elegant, and it
will cause application writers some short term pain, but in 30 years you
will not regret trying it.

Please reject the xattr and acl patch for ReiserFS V3, and wait a week
or two for ReiserFS V4 to ship to you instead.

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