[linux-elitists] Microsoft licensing FAT?

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Fri Dec 5 08:45:32 PST 2003


on Thu, Dec 04, 2003 at 12:47:41AM -0800, Seth David Schoen (schoen@loyalty.org) wrote:
> http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2001806897_microsoft04.html
> 
>   Two technologies in particular were highlighted for licensing
>   yesterday: the File Allocation Table (FAT) file system and the
>   ClearType readability software.

It's long file name support, specifically.

My first thought:  what alternative filesystems might be suitable
replacements?  A quarter million dollars is a pretty significant
incentive to use an existing alternative.  My first thought is minix,
which is suitable for small media (including floppies).  Though given
that we're talking devices which generally have from 32 MiB - 2 GiB or
more capacity, a full-fledged FS such as ext2/3, or reiserfs, might not
be out of the question.  I did some cursory looking around for
alternatives, none of the others jumped out -- mostly marginal OS stuff,
read-only, or otherwise minimal FSs.

Minimal requirements:

  - Directory support.
  - Long filename support.
  - i18n support.

I'm not sure that user/group and privilege support would be a feature or
a bug, but suspect it could be helpful in balance.


Next issue becomes:  can Microsoft be compelled to provide support for
additional filesystems in the base OS?


Finally, there's the whole little matter of antitrust, estoppel,
entrapment, etc.  Microsoft has seeded the computing environment with
long file name support, without indication of any licensing requirement,
for almost a decade -- since the release of MS Windows 95 in 1995:

    http://linuxmafia.com/pub/hardware/win95-bn.txt.gz

...and now, all of a sudden, there's a per-device fee for utilization of
this ubiquitous piece of infrastructure.  Oh yes, and it's in the name
of Microsoft's new "licensing liberalization" policy:

    MS tightens IP grip on Cleartype and FAT- calls it liberalisation
    By John Lettice
    Posted: 04/12/2003 at 14:40 GMT
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/34348.html

    Microsoft opens technology to more licensing
    Last modified: December 3, 2003, 10:58 AM PST
    By Ina Fried  
    http://news.com.com/2100-1012-5113033.html


...and for additional context, for those still missing the sharp bit at
the end:

    http://www.orwelltoday.com/newspeak.shtml




L'Inq has more info, including patent numbers, here:

    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=13047
    Microsoft to gouge for flash memory FAT licences
    $quarter per device, or $250,000 per company
    By INQUIRER staff: Thursday 04 December 2003, 21:48

    ...

    The new scheme is based on a few patents including this lot, U.S.
    Patent #5,579,517, U.S. Patent #5,745,902, U.S. Patent #5,758,352,
    and U.S. Patent #6,286,013.

    ...

Patents also listed by MSFT itself:

    http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/tech/fat.asp


From the USPTO (searches, IIRC, expire, so abstracts posted):

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm



    http://tinyurl.com/xvgp
    United States Patent   5,579,517
    Reynolds, et al. November 26, 1996
    Common name space for long and short filenames
    Filed: April 24, 1995

    Abstract: An operating system provides a common name space for both
    long filenames and short filenames. In this common namespace, a long
    filename and a short filename are provided for each file. Each file
    has a short filename directory entry and may have at least one long
    filename directory entry associated with it. The number of long
    filename directory entries that are associated with a file depends
    on the number of characters in the long filename of the file. The
    long filename directory entries are configured to minimize
    compatibility problems with existing installed program bases. 



    http://tinyurl.com/xvgr
    United States Patent   5,745,902
    Miller, et al. April 28, 1998
    Method and system for accessing a file using file names having
    different file name formats
    Filed:  July 6, 1992

    Abstract:  A multiple file name referencing system stores multiple
    file names in a file. These multiple file names include an operating
    system formatted file name and an application formatted file name.
    When an operating system formatted file name is created or renamed,
    the multiple file name referencing system automatically generates an
    application formatted file name having a potentially different
    format from, but preserving the extension of, the operating system
    formatted name. The multiple file name referencing system similarly
    generates an operating system formatted name upon creation or
    renaming of an application formatted name. A B-tree is provided
    which contains an operating system entry for the operating system
    formatted name and an application entry for the application
    formatted name, each entry containing the address of the same file
    to which both names refer. The multiple file name referencing system
    converts the operating system formatted file name to the application
    formatted file name by accessing the B-tree with reference to the
    operating system entry, and vice versa. As a result, either file
    name can be used to directly reference the file without requiring
    additional file name translation.



    http://tinyurl.com/xvgs
    United States Patent   5,758,352
    Reynolds,  et al. May 26, 1998
    Common name space for long and short filenames
    Filed:  September 5, 1996

    Abstract:  An operating system provides a common name space for both
    long filenames and short filenames. In this common namespace, a long
    filename and a short filename are provided for each file. Each file
    has a short filename directory entry and may have at least one long
    filename directory entry associated with it. The number of long
    filename directory entries that are associated with a file depends
    on the number of characters in the long filename of the file. The
    long filename directory entries are configured to minimize
    compatibility problems with existing installed program bases.



    http://tinyurl.com/xvh3
    United States Patent   6,286,013
    Reynolds,  et al. September 4, 2001
    Method and system for providing a common name space for long and
    short file names in an operating system
    Filed:  January 28, 1997

    Abstract:   An operating system provides a common name space for
    both long filenames and short filenames. In this common namespace, a
    long filename and a short filename are provided for each file. Each
    file has a short filename directory entry and may have at least one
    long filename directory entry associated with it. The number of long
    filename directory entries that are associated with a file depends
    on the number of characters in the long filename of the file. The
    long filename directory entries are configured to minimize
    compatibility problems with existing installed program bases.  


Peace.

-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
   NPR:  Radio for between the ears:  http://www.npr.org/
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