The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, February 26, 2000

Files filing

I was hanging out with Mark and Jeff and one of the topics of conversation was over filesystems.

Okay, I'll admit up front we tend to be a bit geeky.

Anyway, a conversation about filesystems. I don't like the way Unix handles the filesystem, slapping everything under one tree, but I came from a rather heavy MS-DOS, VMS and AmigaOS background where you had volume labels (okay, so the support under MS-DOS was rather weak and ineffectual). Under AmigaDOS (for instance) if I have a floppy with a name of “StarControl” (which I actually do) and I insert it, I now have a volume I can look through called “StarControl:”. And if there is a program on that disk (which there is) it can reference files from the volume “StarControl:” such as “StarControl:config” or “StarControl:scenarios/galactic war”. And, copy protection concerns aside, I can copy the files off the floppy disk onto the harddrive (“Captain Napalm:”) into a games directory and then set the volume “StarControl:” to be equivalent to “Captain Napalm:games/star.control” and have everything work without problem.

“Ahha!” said Mark. “That's all great and everything but what if you insert two floppies with the same name?” Erm … ah … <cough> <cough> “And what if,” he continued, “I have a lot of volumes? There could be name clashes. Like both the C compiler and Pascal compiler looking for files from volume Compile?” Erm … uh … look! The Sweedish Bikini team!

“And why have a different syntax for the the volume name and then the rest of the filesystem?” asks Mark, avoiding my transparent attempt at changing the subject. “Do you allow slashes in the volume name?”

“Sure,” I said.

“And do you allow colons in filenames?”

“I'm sadistic enough of a programmer to say yes.”

“AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” he said. But point taken.

Mark, on the other hand, like the One Tree, Über Alles approach to a file system. Other machines on the network would appear under, say, /net. But that seems wrong to me. Each local machine is the top of their respective trees when it seems like it should be the other way around.

“But if I'm on a non-networked machine, just where should the root be? Should it be under /net/machinename?” Mark asked.

“No,” I repled. “It should have a volume name.”

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