Linus Torvalds Comments On The NTFS Linux Driver Situation

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Storage on 28 April 2022 at 07:11 AM EDT. 47 Comments
As written about earlier this week, concerns have been raised over the "new" NTFS Linux driver that it's effectively unmaintained already less than one year after being mainlined. Linus Torvalds has since commented on the matter and opens up the door for other developers to maintain it.

Since the driver was finally mainlined last year in Linux 5.15, there haven't been any major bug fixes to be sent in for the driver. The driver, which started out as a proprietary driver by Paragon Software, has seen a few fixes towards the last year within Paragon's Git tree but never submitted to mainline. Attempts by other developers to reach the NTFS3 maintainer have been unsuccessful. Thus leading to the public discussion this week over the state of this promising NTFS open-source Linux driver that offers read/write support and other functionality not available with the existing NTFS Linux driver and also better than the FUSE-based alternative.

Some have hypothesized the lack of NTFS3 driver maintenance may be fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war with Russian developers involved. However, this lack of upstream bug fix submissions and responding to other developer inquiries dates back to Q4 last year, well before the conflict began.

Linus Torvalds commented on the thread yesterday. Kari Argillander who started the kernel mailing list thread about the situation has contributed patches to the NTFS3 driver when it was being mainlined and even offered to be a co-maintainer in his attempted contacts with the Paragon developers. Linus Torvalds opened the door to Kari potentially taking over maintenance of the driver with any other interested kernel developers. Basically he would be willing to honor pull requests from other developers should the original maintainer, Konstantin Komarov, not being able or interested in continuing to maintain the driver for the upstream kernel.
If you are willing to maintain it (and maybe find other like-minded people to help you), I think that would certainly be a thing to try.

And if we can find *nobody* that ends up caring and maintaining, then I guess we should remove it, rather than end up with *two* effectively unmaintained copies of NTFS drivers.

Not that two unmaintained filesystems are much worse than one :-p

That also led to a response from developer Namjae Jeon. That developer is looking to improve the former NTFS Linux driver, "I'm currently working write support on read-only NTFS(fs/ntfs) with the goal of being released in a few months. And after that, I am planning to start working fsck in ntfsprogs in ntfs-3g to solve the current lack of utility issue."

How the data must surely feel when questions are raised over file-system driver maintainership...

We'll see how the NTFS Linux situation plays out this year.
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