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Linux and Microsoft's exFAT file system: The story so far

The intimacy between Microsoft and Linux Open Source is no longer hidden. While participation may be more apparent from Linux and other open source projects, Microsoft has also shown its involvement by sharing patents related to the exFAT file system. Obviously, it's a great relief for the Linux community to use flash drives and SD cards in exFAT format on the Linux desktop.

In addition, in the latest development of the kernel, Linux 5.7 pulled the revised exFAT driver code from the staging in the mainline kernel. As some of you may know, Linux kernel 5.4 already has an exFAT driver code. Correctly? So what does the new code mean? In this article, we will look at the principle of Linux support for the exFAT file system developed by Microsoft and how the new driver code further improves Linux support.

Linux Microsoft exFAT

The story so far!

In 2006, Microsoft developed a proprietary and patented file system for Windows - exFAT. Earlier, Microsoft had a FAT and FAT32, but was limited to sizes up to 4GB. On the other hand, exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) has almost inexhaustible limits both for its size file as well as for partition size.

As a result, the exFAT format has gained great acceptance throughout the electronics industry for flash drivers and SD cards on various devices, including cameras, smartphones and laptops. Thus, it is obvious that users who use Windows also welcome default exFAT formatting cards.

But here comes the key issue for Linux users. Prior to Kernel 5.4, Linux did not have motherboard support for exFAT. As a result, it was a great pain to have the exFAT file system installed in the operating system system based on Linux.

I know some of you may disagree that there are additional libraries that add support for exFAT such as fuse-exfat. Experienced Linux users can use it to configure exFAT devices, but what about new users? ExFAT storage media can be difficult to handle. This forces most beginners to switch from Linux to Windows.

On the one hand, fans of open source worked hard to bring exFAT support through third-party packages, while Microsoft fell in love with Linux and showed it off with various gifts, such as the Windows Linux (WSL) subsystem.

Years later, in 2019, Microsoft announced shocking news revealing them techniques exFAT file system specifications. This means that kernel developers can now add repairs to exFAT support without worrying about any legal action.

As expected, the stable Linux Kernel 5.4 was released with the support of an exFAT file system under the permission of GPLv2. But the code The exFAT driver was not as efficient because it was based on the old exFAT snapshot.

Anyway, it was a huge relief because of her Samsung, as it has played an important role since the beginning of the development of the exFAT driver code.

Revised exFAT code in the basic Linux Kernel 5.7

Later, after surpassing the first milestone, Samsung engineers developed a new, reliable and improved driver code exFAT. The new code repeats the drivers used by Samsung to millions of Android products.

The latest exFAT driver allows encrypted data to be accessed by Windows drivers. You can also use the Linux Cryptsetup encryption tool to install the devices.

Overall, the new ex-FAT driving program is an improvised version of the old with an extra Functionality. As a result, Samsung released the code for the 5.7 kernel during the kernel 5.6 development cycle.

Therefore, after the release of kernel 5.6 last week, then with a pull request that included 7,200 thousand lines of code and was integrated into the main kernel 5.7 by Linus Torvalds.

Following the current development cycle, we can expect the candidate-1 Linux 5.7 to be released this weekend and the stable version to be released in June.


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Teo Ehc
Teo Ehc
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