Merging exFAT Support For Linux Is Being Talked About - Waiting On Microsoft's Blessing

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Storage on 10 July 2019 at 12:10 PM EDT. 60 Comments
Microsoft's exFAT file-system is more than one decade old and while there has been out-of-tree efforts, the mainline Linux kernel as of yet does not support the file-system even with it appearing on more SD cards and other devices. But there is now a renewed effort to get an exFAT driver into the Linux kernel.

There was a developer who commented on adding a new file-system driver for exFAT and how he should go about doing so.

The idea was immediately discounted by the likes of EXT4 developer Ted Ts'o given Microsoft has asserted patent claims over the exFAT design. "Personally, if Microsoft is going to be unfriendly about not wanting others to use their file system technology by making patent claims, why should we reward them by making their file system better by improving its interoperability? (My personal opinion only.)"

Kernel developer Matthew Wilcox then looped in Ky Srinivasan who is the GM of Microsoft's Enterprise Open-Source Group. Ky said he has started an internal discussion at Microsoft over the possibility of getting Microsoft's blessing for exFAT in the Linux kernel / ensuring no patent issues, as the exFAT patents were supposedly left out when Microsoft joined OIN.

There hasn't been any other indications yet on how long Srinivasan's internal discussion could take but as it would involve legal, it could take a while.

The exFAT driver being sought for mainline inclusion is based on the exFAT Linux code Samsung open-sourced years ago.
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