[Techtalk] Linux file system versus dos/win model

mandi mandi at linuxchick.org
Tue Jul 29 22:34:38 UTC 2008

Hi Anne.

In the most pedantic sense, "/" is the root of the filesystem in Linux and
Unix, and you can add whatever additional storage devices and remote shares to
it wherever you want to.  

In Windows, "C:\" is the "root" of the "C Drive", while "F:\" is the "root" of
the "F Drive".  there is no structure above C:\ and F:\ to unify them under a
single true filesystem, so the holistic "My Computer" is added to make one
file space out of them.

You can also mount your flash drive anywhere in the file system.  If you want
it to be /home/anne/flash, it can be mounted that way, instead of /flash. most
modern linux distributions provide automounting of USB devices under /mnt or
/flash to make the drives obvious.

A remote filesystem, which would be mounted as a lettered drive in Windows,
can also be mounted anywhere in your Linux file system, whether it is a samba
mount to Windows or an NFS mount to another Unix system.  

you can navigate through directories of any regular, special, and remote files
using all the same tools.  There is no concept of "hidden files".

The key to a Linux or UNIX-like filesystem is that not only are objects that
normally lend themselves to being files treated as files, but so is everything

Your mouse is a file, probably /dev/mouse
Your terminal is a file, like /dev/tty0
The parallel port is a file, /dev/lp0

The kernel keeps track of all these "devices" in a file system under /dev. 
They have special attributes that set them apart from regular files.  

Hope that sheds some light on things.


On Tue, 29 Jul 2008 23:28:47 +0200, Anne Wainwright wrote
> Hello,
> Looking for some knowledge here.
> 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?
> bestest
> Anne
> -- 
> so much to do, so little time :(
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