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01.24.13

New GPLv3-licensed exFAT Driver Not a Microsoft Patent Proxy for Linux Patent Tax

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 8:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) gets exFAT, allowing the mounting of Microsoft’s patent tax trap

Two companies we wrote about before, Paragon and Tuxera, help Microsoft tax Linux through file systems. One more implementation arrives, but this one is licensed differently and uses FUSE. “Linus Torvalds and others in the past have characterized FUSE file-systems as being for toys and misguided people,” writes Phoronix, “but FUSE has been used before for bringing Sun/Oracle’s ZFS to Linux, various other creative file-system implementations, and now exFAT. ExFAT support for Linux has been talked about going back to early 2009 but the support has been crap on Linux.

“The FUSE-based exFAT project seeks to be a full-featured implementation for GNU/Linux and other Unix-like systems, including Mac OS X. With fuse-exfat 1.0.0, after three years in development, there is support for formatting exFAT partitions using the exfat-utils package while the FUSE driver does provide both read and write support for the Microsoft FS. Some of the recent changes found with the 1.0.0 release include improved write performance through enabling big_writes, improved OS X support, and various crash fixes.”

Another article says that “Open Source File System Takes On Microsoft’s exFAT Patents” (recall the TomTom lawsuit). The exFAT project uses a patents-hostile licence, GPLv3:

ExFAT project member Andrew Nayenko has released version 1.0.0 of fuse-exfat, a filesystem driver that can read and write to Microsoft’s exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) filesystem. Like the Ntfs-3G NTFS driver that is used in Linux distributions, the exFAT driver is based on FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) and works under Linux as well as OS X. In a short test with Fedora 18, reading from and writing to a USB flash drive that was freshly formatted with exFAT worked fine.

See the Slashdot discussion. There is no patent tax in this case, but it still helps Microsoft spreads patent traps like FAT. For read-only purpose performance might not be a hugely important consideration, so having this patents-free option is probably fine.

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