[linux-elitists] FAT is the new GIF?

Jason Spence jspence@lightconsulting.com
Thu Feb 26 16:42:21 PST 2009

On Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 04:04:12PM -0800, Don Marti wrote: 
> Danger!  MSFT patents!  Larry Augustin writes,
> "FAT32 is not an open and unencumbered technology."
> http://lmaugustin.typepad.com/lma/2009/02/linux-microsoft-and-patents-its-time-to-get-the-fat-out.html
> So is it time to start treating FAT support like MP3
> today or GIFs back in the day -- something that can't
> be included with a Free distribution, to be "burned"
> and replaced with a Free alternative?  (some of the
> flash-oriented filesystems might be a good choice for
> the kind of thing people tend to use FAT for these
> days: http://lwn.net/Articles/276025/ )
> Or is FAT more like JPEG -- something that's subject
> to bogus patent claims, but usable?

The problem with FAT is that it's so ubiquitously supported, so any
alternative would destroy the value in existing implementations.  This
is bad news for FAT alternatives, because damn near *everything* reads
FAT.  My HP-49 calculator, GPS devices, your BIOS's page 0 recovery
code, camcorders, cell phones, you name it.

Lots of these are embedded devices, and embedded engineers have to be
very conservative in their design decisions.  With billions of these
things being made every year, there would have to be a very good
reason to switch to an alternative.  Since extensions to FAT like
TFAT, exFAT, and Sandisk/M-systems's surefs all add support for
poweroff-proof transactions, the only motivation I can think of would
be Microsoft demanding higher license fees for FAT implementations.

 - Jason                                   Last known location:

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race,
in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.
		-- Thoreau

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