The “new” Linux NTFS driver is in danger

The "new" Linux NTFS driver is in danger

Linux 5.15 released a new NTFS driver developed by Paragon Software with which it tried to improve compatibility with Microsoft’s veteran file system, which two decades after the launch of Windows XP is still the standard. However, a few months later the driver has entered a state of apparent abandonment, a situation that has aroused the concern of kernel developers and maintainers.

Paragon Software’s NTFS3 driver was initially proprietary and distributed as a commercial product, but last year the company decided to release its code for the purpose of introducing it into the Linux kernel. Although Linux is not capable of running, at least not officially, on an NTFS partition, support for the NTFS file system is important for people who dual boot or are in a mixed Linux and Windows environment.

The state of the driver has recently started to cause concern, when it was found that it has received little attention since the release of Linux 5.15 last November. Kari Argillander, kernel developer and co-maintainer of the driver that raised the alarm, has commented through the mailing lists that she hasn’t been able to get any response from Konstantin Komarov, the maintainer of Paragon Software, so she proceeded to post the issue on the table.

In the development branch of Paragon Software, some patches have been seen that were developed during the months of October and November 2021, but these have not been brought upstream to introduce them in the official Linux branches. In a development that goes as fast as that of Linux, it is evident that the “new” NTFS3 driver is in a state of abandonment, especially when the original developer does not respond, so Kari Argillander does not rule out its withdrawal as a measure to apply to solve the problem , which would force NTFS support to be supported in an older driver, probably the FUSE-based one.

The concern that the matter has aroused has led Linus Torvalds intervene to expose his position. The kernel creator seems to opt, at least for now, to give Argillander the green light to take over along with some interested developer who offers to maintain the NTFS3 driver introduced in Linux 5.15, a possibility that was also raised by Argillander. .

Namjae Jeon, another developer, has popped up on the mailing list thread to say that he is currently contributing to the older driver , more specifically “NTFS (fs/ntfs) read-only write support with the goal of releasing it in a few minutes.” months”. After that, he plans to “start working fsck on ntfsprogs inside ntfs-3g to solve the current lack of usability problem”.

As we can see, we are facing a situation that could result in a significant regression in the support that Linux offers for NTFS, to the extent that the latest generation driver can end up being withdrawn a few months after a satisfactory solution is not found. Obviously, Linux will continue to be able to support NTFS in one way or another, but losing a few enhancements that were recently introduced is not a tasteful dish.

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