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The impending demise of the file system

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1 Author(s)
Nielsen, J. ; SunSoft, Mountain View, CA

The file system has been a trusted part of most computers for many years, and will likely continue as such in operating systems for many more. However, several emerging trends in user interfaces indicate that the basic file-system model is inadequate to fully satisfy the needs of new users, despite the flexibility of the underlying code and data structures. There is no need for users to know how their information is stored inside the guts of the computer. Indeed, the notion of a continuous file is itself is an abstraction: It masks the fact that the information is normally stored on noncontiguous sectors of a hard disk. From a user perspective, current file systems are based on three assumptions: Information is partitioned into coherent and disjunct units, each of which is treated as a separate object (file). Users typically manipulate information using a file and are restricted to be “in” one file at a time. Information objects are classified according to a single hierarchy: the subdirectory structure. Each information object is given a single, semi-unique name, which is fixed. This file name is the main way users access information inside the object. Window systems have made these assumptions less intolerable, but they still exist. Modern computing, particularly the Internet, is further undermining these assumptions in several ways

Published in:

Software, IEEE  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 2 )