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Anatomy of the Linux virtual file system switch

Sep 04, 2009, 02:34 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by M. Tim Jones)


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"The flexibility and extensibility of support for Linux file systems is a direct result of an abstracted set of interfaces. At the core of that set of interfaces is the virtual file system switch (VFS).

"The VFS provides a set of standard interfaces for upper-layer applications to perform file I/O over a diverse set of file systems. And it does it in a way that supports multiple concurrent file systems over one or more underlying devices. Additionally, these file systems need not be static but may come and go with the transient nature of the storage devices.

"For example, a typical Linux desktop supports an ext3 file system on the available hard disk, as well as the ISO 9660 file system on an available CD-ROM (otherwise called the CD-ROM file system, or CDFS). As CD-ROMs are inserted and removed, the Linux kernel must adapt to these new file systems with different contents and structure. A remote file system can be accessed through the Network File System (NFS). At the same time, Linux can mount the NT File System (NTFS) partition of a Windows®/Linux dual-boot system from the local hard disk and read and write from it."

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