Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (3637 mails)

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[OT] Microsoft maldesign and drive letters
  • From: Paul Abrahams <abrahams@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 06 May 2001 10:35:49 -0400
  • Message-id: <3AF56145.1E1E5631@xxxxxxx>
I've just been sweating through a common problem that
exemplifies Microsoft's penchant for bad design: keeping
drive letters straight when adding a hard drive or
reconfiguring partitions. The problem, as most folks here
probably know, is that if you add a hard drive or a disk
partition to your system, drive letters change in a way that
you cannot control or modify. That naturally messes up all
references to files on the drives whose letters have
changed.

And needless to say, Unix (ergo Linux) has a perfectly
straightforward solution to the problem: all devices hang
off the root filesystem via mounts. You rejigger a drive,
you change /etc/fstab and that's the end of it.

Of course, Windows is stuck with the problem of backward
compatibility. Yet ironically enough, at one time DOS
(yes, DOS!) supported a workaround with the SUBST command
that enabled you to redefine one drive letter into
another. With SUBST you could work entirely with virtual
drive letters and never have to reference the real ones.
SUBST went out with the transition to Win 3.1, I believe; I
haven't seen it for years.

The real maldesign, though, is that there is a simple way
that MS could have its cake of backward compatibility and
still provide flexibility in adding hard drives: provide a
"reverse SUBST" that would associate a directory with a
drive. In other words, something like C:\AUX_DRIVE would
be associated with, say, the G: drive. That would make
C:\ equivalent to the Linux root, and all file references
would then be to locations on the C drive.

Why not?

Paul



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