Mar 022012

I’m glad to have another post of Tcat Houser editor-in-chief of

With Apple’s big announcement for March 7, it seemed appropriate to look at the *NIX derivative BSD on which OS X and IOS are based. Specifically, were going to take on file system. And looking with the skeptical view of how American public corporations tend to work in the best interests of their shareholders. Have you ever examined the file format options available in OS X and Windows? The tale gets interesting.

In the beginning, there was DOS. Okay, before that it was UNIX. A real network operating system. I do not think we need to going to the story about why we have Linux. And in our timeline Linux is not even in the twinkle of an eye for Linus T. So the options were (at the microcomputer level) , CP/M. Created by Gary Kendall. Yes, he had an LP/M , kind of, sort of, started for Intel microprocessors. And the Zilog microprocessor was King, as was CP/M.

It is a matter of historical fact that IBM flew out from New York to California to meet with Mr. Kendall about licensing, CP/M. There is much conjecture and nothing of formal record as to what happened. More precisely, what did not happen.

A gentleman by the name of Bill Gates had already ported Microsoft’s version of BASIC from the Altair to the upcoming IBM PC. Already under NDA IBM asked Bill if he had an OS? “Sure!” Well, he does not however, Seattle Computer Products had picked up the languishing. LP/M since CP/M was crashing to timing errors, and calling it Gazelle DOS for his $25,000 CADD station.

The brief story is Bill got Gazelle DOS, while Seattle Computer Products kept the license for its own products. You probably know the rest of the story.

DOS (Disk Operating System) used FAT (File Allocation Table) to organize disk storage. It has only four attributes. RASH. Read Only, Archive, System, Hidden. No network or security attributes.

Fast forward to the latter part of the 90s, and Microsoft wants to see FAT/DOS dead. It’s all about NT and NTFS. It is all about network security and SID (Security IDentifiers) for network file permissions.

A somewhat loyal yet rebellious MCSE (Tim Catura-Houser) wrote an article in a magazine about how to deploy SBS (small business server) in a real-world environment, calling for the use of FAT for the TEMP/swap file. A certain Mr. Bill was not pleased when that publication landed.

This created an “instant imitation” to the Redmond campus, where he was met by six software architects. The purpose was to explain this lunacy. “Well, gee. Maybe you can explain the error of my ways. I do not see the purpose of wasting CPU cycles to set security identifiers for a temp file this one. You have a temp file with a life cycle inside Ring 0, measured in milliseconds.”


Fast forward a few years, and Win 7 has EX-FAT. It can address Pentabytes of storage with no real overhead. It is covered by so many patents, nobody can touch it.

Apple has some patents too.

Isn’t it interesting that both firms have some sort of cross-licence agreement? Both have EX-FAT, and nobody else does.

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