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I reformatted my MacBookPro recently and decided to format in a case sensitive file system. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Upon doing some installs it seems Steam doesn't support case sensitive file systems.

While I haven't run into any other serious issues, it raises a question...

Why should I use one over another?

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Adobe's software has traditionally had problems on case-sensitive filesystems. CS 5.5 still lists that it cannot be installed on case-sensitive file systems. – afrazier Oct 11 '11 at 2:08
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Some programs depend on running from a case-sensitive filesystem. For example, a program might have two different images, "image.png" and "Image.png" in its Resources directory, and depend on them being different from each other.

On the other hand, some programs depend on running from a case-insensitive filesystem. For example, a program might have "image.png" in its Resources directory, and try to load it as "Image.png"; this works fine on a case-insentitive filesystem, but on a case-sensitive filesystem the file will not be found.

Mac OS has traditionally used a case-insensitive filesystem, so most Mac developers write, debug, and test their programs on case-insensitive filesystems. Unless they happen to think to test on a case-sensitive filesystem as well, there's a significant chance they'll make at least one capitalization mistake somewhere, and their software will break on a case-sensitive filesystem.

Unix (& Linux), on the other hand, has traditionally used case-sensitive filesystems, so programs from that world sometimes get the reverse effect: they're more likely to have trouble on a case-insensitive filesystem.

You might also have a personal preference one way or the other. For example, I don't really think of capitalization as significant, so Image.png and image.png look like the same filename to me, and seeing them both in the same directory is confusing. Essentially, I prefer case-insentitivity because it's more compatible with the way my brain works.

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And Apple does not require testing on a sensitive file system for certification or the app store. – bmargulies Oct 11 '11 at 1:58
Sounds like a winner to me. – surfasb Oct 11 '11 at 4:21

Answering from a user standpoint (Gordon's answer handles the software consequences): no, it's not a good idea.

Do you really want to spend the mental energy distinguishing Image.png from image.png? I do not mean the energy spent distinguishing the characters (your brain does that anyway), but thinking about which was the one you meant to refer to?

Do you really want to spend the physical energy correcting image.png to Image.png when you've forgotten to hit the shift key in time?

And if any of these answers is yes for you personally: do you think you can answer yes for anyone else that might use your Mac? The Mac filesystem is usually configured to be case insensitive (but case preserving), so that's what they expect. Don't frustrate them.

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