Linux may lose a key Windows file system after a patent lawsuit from Microsoft.
Recently, TomTom and Microsoft reached an out-of-court settlement
agreement to end a dispute that started when Microsoft sued TomTom over alleged patent
infringement over its aging FAT file system.
The settlement included TomTom agreeing to pay licence fees to
Microsoft, and fully remove the
controversial code from their navigation system within two years.
Now, Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation, posted his reaction to the settlement.
In his post, Zemlin points out that, "at the heart of this settlement is the FAT filesystem". Reacting to Microsoft's acknowledgment in a press release that the FAT file system "is easily replaced with multiple technology alternatives", Zemlin adds that "The Linux Foundation is here to assist interested parties in the technical coordination of removing the FAT file system from products that make use of it today." and ends his post with, "Maybe it’s time developers go on a diet from Microsoft and get the FAT out of their products."
This issue has far-reaching effects mainly because of the ubiquity of FAT. USB flash drives; memory cards used by numerous electronic devices including cell phones, MP3 players, video game consoles, and digital cameras; and even other operating systems, Linux being one of them, all support FAT.
While there are a number of file systems out there, the common ones under Linux being ext3, XFS, JFS, and ReiserFS, and Microsoft even having moved away from FAT to NTFS for Windows a decade ago, FAT still remains the most widely used. This, despite the fact that many of the file systems are far more advanced than FAT, which still traces its origins to the mid 70's.
Is the Linux Foundation sure this is the direction they wish to take? Could it be that this is the direction Microsoft wanted them to take in the first place -- in the process, making Linux incompatible with a vast array of devices out there?