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I hope this is the correct site, I lose my way between the 4 sister sites :)

Let me ask the question this way. all file systems I have seen before are hierarchical, that means a root directory, with some branched directories, and so on until we have files residing in these directories. except for AS/400 file structure, where it has a concept of a Library that serve somehow as a directory but one level only.

Why not have directory-less filesystems where files are placed in a single location, but the file identifiers would be referenced by a database of tag/ file relation ships.

This way there will be no need for symbolic links, one file may have multiple relations to multiple subjects, not only a single parent directory to contain.

I hope the idea is clear.

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1 Answer 1

Windows Vista was originally hyped to have WinFS, that is based on a relational model of data and internally uses a relational database.

Pure tagging capability of files would surely be too small of a feature for effective use but rich meta properties of the data instead allows more meaningful relations to be used and autogenerated between files.

To have effective automatic generation of the relations, the OS must have clear knowledge of the file contents, metadata and/or semantics. Thus, database filesystems have the advantage of getting rid of programs' own (often proprietary) file formats by requiring the data to conform a standard schema. (Although WinFS in partucular supports also storage of semi-structured files or files with no structure.)

In general, the idea of such a system you are describing seems fantastic but the implementation might not be as easy as it first sounds. As the internals of relational - or database - filesystems, they are most likely to have some sort of hierarchy as well, like trees, that all RDBMS's have.

As a disclaimer, there is no public release of WinFS, yet. For Linux, you can try Relational Filesystem, a program that operates on a hierarchial filesystem but presents the date through a relational filesystem interface.

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