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ext4 bug (or not)

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Assigned keywords: Programmieren

There has been a report on massive data losses which can occur if using ext4, when several unfortunate conditions meet - deleting and replacing a lot of files in a short amount of time followed by a crash of the operating system or computer. I won't go into further details because these can be read about here and here.

Point is that the Open Source Community again (like with the Debian SSL Bug) fails to properly handle the situation: instead of working on solutions, they fail to address the problem and blame each other. This time it is a conflict between the application programmers, which insist that they should be able to rely on certain workings of the file system opposed by the developers of the file system which blame the application programmers to have done "stupid things" which will lead to problems on many "modern" file systems. He then goes on to tell people to improve general reliability of their systems by using UPS and refraining from binary drivers. Somehow it reminds me of the usual situation when user requests get smacked down by application programmers with an RTFM, only that it is a level higher. Probably, next comes that the file system programmers will get an RTFM by the device driver programmers and they'll get one by the hardware vendors.

Many flaws could be washed away with an RTFM. From a certain point of view, many of what people call security issues of Windows are actually failures to properly read a manual and understand Windows. With a proper knowledge of Windows XP, you can make the system so tight that it is next to impossible to corrupt it - downside is, that such a Windows will be very inconvenient to use, which is the reason why a default install of Windows will be insecure, but convenient. Which wouldn't be so much of a problem if the people read the manual as well and knew and cared about the risks.

What the people fail to see is the sanity of the whole platform, which is at risk. Well, fine, if they tell me to get an UPS and refrain from using binary drivers, but the problem arose in a desktop environment. I haven't got an UPS at home. Apart from that, I've seen hard crashes in Linux which could not be linked to binary drivers; one was reproducible and occured whenever I plugged in a USB mass storage device or had it connected at boot time. The fact that he links crashes to binary drivers shows that he's more caring about making a point for Open Source than anything else.

Instead of just withdrawing on Specs and common sense, people should rather sit together and try to find a solution for the issues. If ext4 is mostly aimed at a high reliability environment, then it has no place in a distribution such as Ubuntu, which is mainly aimed at desktop computers.
Apart from that, I've came to the conclusion that programmers just aren't paranoid enough in general. I put security and reliability highest, followed by speed, then by design and features. Unfortunately, the notion to get out features fast and put performance highest has infected the Open Source World as well. This combined with the widespread arrogance of OS developers is a dangerous combination. One can say a lot of bad things about Microsoft, but in the past they've shown that they're ready to accept criticism, do their homework and improve their products step by step.


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