Bonum Certa Men Certa

Software Patents Are Killing ZFS

Sow thistle in the sunshine



Summary: ZFS as a good example of wonderful software that gets sidelined due to obsession with intellectual monopolies

TO BORROW the words of the FFII, a recent 'avalanche' of software patents-hostile filings in the Bilski case [1, 2] shows that the USPTO can no longer take its broken patent law for granted. A Bilski oral argument is due very soon and in separate news, Sun's attitude towards software patents is claimed to have killed ZFS (frankly, NetApp too contributed a lot to such problems). "Sun's heavily patent-encumbered, GPL-incompatible ZFS filesystem 'appears to be very dead'," claims one of our readers, who also cites this bit of news from Roughly Drafted (also in Apple Insider).



Sun's ZFS had already come under fire for patent infringement from NetApp as part of a patent war instigated by Sun.

NetApp reported that ZFS not only infringes its WAFL storage patents, but that Sun intentionally designed ZFS to provide features unique to NetApp's WAFL, which Sun itself described it its marketing as "the first commercial file system to use the copy-on-write tree of blocks approach to file system consistency."

This leaves Apple with an unfinished, patent-encumbered file system and without an enterprise class partner to work with in developing the future of ZFS. Were Apple to develop ZFS on its own, the technology would likely be relegated to pariah status by the rest of the industry.

It remains to be seen whether Apple will begin working with Oracle to port the similar BTRFS to Mac OS X, or simply continue to add new features to HFS+ while monitoring the landscape for promising new file system options. In any case, ZFS appears to be very dead.


The author, a Mac enthusiast and an excellent writer, seemingly strives to make it look like Apple alone was a factor when in fact Linux too has played a role with its multiple rejections of ZFS, mostly for licensing (including patents) and structural issues, according to Morton.

It would be funny to suggest that Apple's departure from ZFS was due to patents; Apple has a real software patents fever going on at the moment.

Apple Applies for Patent on OS With Embedded Advertising



[...]

An ad-supported operating system would likely not be popular with Mac users.


Roughly Drafted has just written to explain "why Nokia is suing Apple over iPhone GSM/UMTS patents"; for those who missed it, we wrote about Nokia's patent moves against Apple only a few days ago. The litigation is wasteful.

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