Hans Reiser interview

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. Hans Reiser is the mastermind behind ReiserFS, the first popular journalled
    filesystem.

    This interview with him <http://kerneltrap.org/node/5654> looks at the
    design of both the existing version 3.6 of ReiserFS and the newly-released
    Reiser4, and touches on some of his personal philosophy along the way:

    What you learn, when you read works like Novum Organum by Sir
    Francis Bacon, is that science is about being a blind man with
    a stick, and he who most persistently pokes blindly ahead of him,
    contributes the most to our understanding of the Universe, though
    only if he is willing to accept what the poking tells him that he
    does not want to be true. I am not as qualified or clever as our
    competition, and we aren't as well funded, but we are much more
    persistent and rigorous.

    Also a surprising (but refreshing) attitude to comments in code:

    Well commented code, I could never have done it for a class, but in
    Reiser4 we are fanatical about it. Every new programmer gets dragged
    by me through the process of learning to write textbook clear code.
    The reason for this is that one person simply cannot scale to
    reading 10 people's code in addition to running the business unless
    the code is textbook clear, and the architect NEEDS to have read it
    all. But also, part of me views the code the way a painter would
    view a canvas: it should be well done in every detail, including
    clarity and commenting.

    When it first came out, ReiserFS showed that you could indeed have large
    numbers of small files in a single directory and still achieve high
    performance, without detracting from performance with large files. This
    still comes as a surprise to some people--see his notes on why he doesn't
    like blobs.

    He also doesn't like xattrs--he prefers the idea of treating a file as a
    directory containing files representing the individual attributes. This way
    you can use existing standard file-manipulation utilities to work with
    attributes, instead of having to invent new ones. Though I'm not sure he
    was the first to think of this
    <http://groups.google.co.nz/group/comp.sys.mac.programmer.misc/browse_frm/thread/4227c6a7ba89abef/969eb553c6e2e93c>.
    However, his "metafile" concept goes an interesting way further than this.
    Also Reiser4 is a plugin-based filesystem, and I think that allows you to
    implement functionality like Apple's Spotlight and Microsoft's WinFS and
    more, without actually having to implement a new filesystem.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 14, 2005
    #1
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