Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Nov 2010 22:40 UTC, submitted by rhyder
Linux "For a fairly scruffy looking guy, I have a surprisingly healthy approach to organising my files. However, I'm constantly pushing up against the limitations of a system that is based around directories. I'm convinced that Linux needs to make greater use of tagging, but I'm also beginning to wonder if desktop Linux could abandon the hierarchical directory structure entirely."
Permalink for comment 448565
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Not just tagging
by Zifre on Thu 4th Nov 2010 23:34 UTC
Member since:

Tagging is nice, but file systems need a complete overhaul.

First, we need transactional file systems. There is really no good reason not to have a transactional file system. It would make things like updates, installations, and removals much simpler. It would also make a lot the common synchronization hacks unnecessary. The thing is, this really isn't that hard. I created a very primitive transactional file system prototype for Linux some months ago, but I haven't had time to finish it (I plan on basing it on Btrfs). Any user could do transactions, and they would never block. The basic algorithm was that if a transaction wanted to write to something that was being read, it would be canceled, and if it wanted to read something that was being written, it would be cancelled.

Second, we need indexing of extended attributes. BFS got this right. My music should just be a folder with a bunch of files that have metadata. There should be no database. I should be able to search for songs with complex logical queries, not just simple text searches like you would find in a standard music player (e.g. iTunes, Rhythmbox).

Personally, I believe tagging is secondary to all of this. My mind naturally categorizes things hierarchically, but I have had times when I wished a file could be in two folders.

I am quite sure that the reason that none of these ideas have been implemented is not because they are hard, but because people stopped caring. File systems have hardly changed since the 1980s (the interface, not the implementations). I think the biggest problem with Linux is that most people are focused on creating a shiny interface, when the system below is inelegant and full of hacks. Of course, every major OS is like this, but I think it shows more in Linux. This is an area where Linux could really innovate and be better than Windows and Mac OS X.

Reply Score: 5