[Techtalk] Linux file system versus dos/win model

Carla Schroder carla at bratgrrl.com
Tue Jul 29 22:28:10 UTC 2008

On Tuesday 29 July 2008 14:28:47 Anne Wainwright wrote:
> One of the reasons I often read for the superiority of linux over windows is 
oft-touted statement that under linux 'everything is mounted on one 
contiguous file system'
> So if I mount my usb stick on linux it comes up on the file system 
under /flash
> If I mount it on windows (well, plug it it) then it comes up as 'F' with my 
allocated name of Sahara.
> How is this any different? Both are shown on a tree-like structure. I can 
move files from the device to any other part of the tree with equal 
facility.  What am I missing here, what in essence is the real difference?

On a single PC that is not connected to a network it doesn't matter. On a 
network it makes a huge difference, because Windows drive letters are purely 
local. So in a Windows network they have to fall back on a Unix-type 
addressing convention, because you cannot mount the filesystem on D:, for one 
example, on another computer on the network by using the drive letter.

In a feeble effort to be Innovative and Original, and to also make network 
filesharing possible, Microsoft came up with UNC (Uniform Naming Convention), 
which in a stunning display of ingenuity imitates Unix filepaths, except the 
slashes go the wrong way and there are different numbers of them, like this:


On a Unixy system it looks like this:


Windows users can map UNCs to local drive letters, which is convenient for 
creating a persistent mount, but I think it's an unnecessary complication 
because it hides the real filepath, and I have wasted way too many hours of 
my life trying to debug user problems when they are understandably confused 
by all of this useless abstraction.


Carla Schroder
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