Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Thu 13th Jan 2011 12:53 UTC, submitted by sawboss
Hardware, Embedded Systems "The question that forms the title of this article has recently been posted on the Super User Q&A site for computer enthusiasts. At first I was shocked at how silly a question it was as everyone should know that, right? But then I started to think about it and realized anyone under a certain age probably has no clue."
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Comment by Toonie
by Toonie on Thu 13th Jan 2011 14:02 UTC
Toonie
Member since:
2007-11-19

Blechh... We should have ditched drive letters ages ago. Bloody M$!

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Toonie
by leech on Thu 13th Jan 2011 14:31 in reply to "Comment by Toonie"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Yeah, I had always thought drive letters were retarded.

If I recall correctly, it was CP/M that started that, and only Operating Systems that descended from it still have it (DOS, GEM, Windows).

At the very least you'd think they'd have used numbers instead of letters.

The closest to drive letters that Linux and other *nix use is the device name.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Comment by Toonie
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 13th Jan 2011 14:51 in reply to "Comment by Toonie"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

What's wrong with drive letters? It's as arbitrarily as good a designation as any.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Toonie
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 13th Jan 2011 16:18 in reply to "RE: Comment by Toonie"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Here is the problem with drive letters, that I myself encountered a few times back in the 90's.

When you run out of space on the primary C:\ drive, you cant just install another disk and move data over with out affecting the path windows uses to locate files.

Lets say I installed a bunch of data files in C:\data that other programs rely on and know that they are in C:\data

If I decide I need to move the data over to a new drive, I can't do that without some how informing the programs that the data has moved to D:\data

If it were linux, a similar situation might be creating a single partition on a single disk and having everything there.

So my data might have been in /var/data

Install new disk mount as /mnt/tmp.
Move data from /var/data to /mnt/tmp.
set mount point of new disk to /var/data
and boom. done. Every thing works without having to change config files or registry or anything.

I never did figure out anyway of seamlessly moving connected data from one disk to another in windows without having to notify all the programs of the change in drive letter.

Windows also had an annoying feature that was introduced in xp when I tried working around the problem. Instead of adding a disk, I'd sometimes try to just replace the smaller disk with a larger disk without reinstalling anything. Even using a bit for bit copy on a hd duplicator, windows would boot up and look at the HD serial or something and realize that it was on a new drive, and give the drive a new letter D .... screwing up all the data paths programs had set up.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by Toonie
by spiderman on Thu 13th Jan 2011 16:40 in reply to "RE: Comment by Toonie"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

I use Windows XP at work and network drives are assigned to letters. This causes many problems. The first problem is when people send link to a document on the network by mail.

- Here is the sales report: Q:\sales\report.xls

Does not work if Q: is not mapped to the same samba share at the other end, could even lead to another wrong document.

Another problem is that you are limited to 26 drives, which is very low.

Overall, the drive letters are a legacy and we would happily get rid of them if we could.

I don't know if Windows 7 does use them like XP does though since I have never used it.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Toonie
by Lennie on Thu 13th Jan 2011 23:13 in reply to "RE: Comment by Toonie"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Try working in a small business and creating a login script for a bunch of different computers with all their own sm/cf/md/sd/mini mcc-whatever drives already taking up most of the drive letters you would like to point to the network somewhere.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Toonie
by Carewolf on Thu 13th Jan 2011 23:23 in reply to "RE: Comment by Toonie"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

The Amiga system was a lot more useful and flexible. Instead of driver letters you used the disk labels. So a game would look for "Monkey Island - Disk 25:" and would then prompt to have that inserted. The beauty of that system was that you could insert the disk into any drive, or even copy it to memory as a RAM drive and the game would still find it without knowning anything about multiple drives, RAM drives or harddisks.

Edited 2011-01-13 23:24 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Comment by Toonie
by Hans Otten on Thu 13th Jan 2011 15:13 in reply to "Comment by Toonie"
Hans Otten Member since:
2009-12-24

Microsoft did not invent the drive letters, its the CP/M heritage, so blame Gary Kildall.

The use of shorthand notation for drives is much older btw.

No need to comment on Mirosoft still using drive letters, there is not much need in modern Windows environments for driver letters, UNC for network drives works fine.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Toonie
by henderson101 on Thu 13th Jan 2011 15:48 in reply to "RE: Comment by Toonie"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

UNC for network drives works fine.


Most of the time. Not all of the time. I have found a few apps that dislike UNC. Usually older ones, but it's not universally supported at all.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Toonie
by bogomipz on Thu 13th Jan 2011 18:36 in reply to "RE: Comment by Toonie"
bogomipz Member since:
2005-07-11

You can't cd to an UNC path, which is extremely annoying!

At work, I practically live in Emacs. It handles UNC paths beautifully, but when I spawn a shell to run a couple of svn commands, I get:

'\\foo\bar\baz\wombat'
CMD.EXE was started with the above path as the current directory.
UNC paths are not supported. Defaulting to Windows directory.
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6002]
Copyright (c) 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\Windows>_


Also, WINE does not support UNC paths at all, AFAIK. This is obviously not Microsoft's fault, but still a pretty bad situation.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Comment by Toonie
by demetrioussharpe on Thu 13th Jan 2011 23:19 in reply to "Comment by Toonie"
demetrioussharpe Member since:
2009-01-09

Blechh... We should have ditched drive letters ages ago. Bloody M$!


Perhaps they would've dropped driver letters if they'd kept Xenix & based this line of Windows off of it! ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2