The proprietary file system exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table), designed by Microsoft and launched in 2006, may soon integrate the Linux kernel.
In any case, this is Microsoft’s ardent desire, which has announced that it will work towards this objective.
Through this project, the Redmond Group once again confirms its interest in free systems and the world of open source.
Using the exFAT file system on Linux has been complicated up to now. Due to its proprietary nature,
this system used for USB keys or SD cards (among others) required the installation of additional software for compatibility with Linux, but this must change shortly.
Microsoft has announced to support the project of integration of its filesystem to the Linux kernel.
In this spirit, Satya Nadella’s firm has promised to publish the exFAT technical specifications. A first step.
Microsoft & Linux : From Hate To Love?
“It is important for us that the Linux community can confidently use the exFAT file system, integrating it into the Linux kernel. To this end, we will make available to the public Microsoft’s technical specifications for exFAT in order to facilitate compliant and interoperable development” said Microsoft in a press release.
In parallel with this announcement, the group indicated that it also wanted the exFAT specifications to become an integral part of the Open Invention Networks.
If accepted, TechCrunch says, the code of the file system could benefit from “defensive patents filed by the more than 3040 members and licensees of the ISO”.
Relatively recent, but constantly growing, the love shown by the Redmond firm for Linux and open systems is translated into concrete actions.
Beyond the now planned addition of the exFAT file system to Linux, the free OS is now the most popular on Microsoft’s Azure Cloud and can even extend to Windows 10 through the Windows Subsystem for Linux.
It remains to be seen whether mistrust is still strong among the Linux community, which is used to taking a negative view of Microsoft’s foot calls and its investment in open source.
Until now, Microsoft has often been criticized for its policy of “Adopt, extend and then stifle” competing systems or services.
Hence the mistrust on the part of Linux users and developers. Only time will tell if the saying is still justified.
By adding exFAT to the Linux kernel, Microsoft will in any case allow users of the free OS to use USB sticks and SD cards in exFAT without having to format their storage device each time they change OS, or be forced to use a third-party application.
This is particularly relevant in the case of SD cards with large storage capacity (SDXC and SDUC), whose official system is precisely the exFAT, as ZDNet pointed out.