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Mar 26th, 2020
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  1. Hi Jim​,
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  5. I'd like to offer you for publication 2 news announcements: one is the article (available for publication in any form) explaining why the open source model didn't work in 3 cases, and the problem of system interoperability. The other is a partnership press about integration of Paragon's proprietary exFAT for Linux driver into Sagemcom's (the leading broadband provider operating in 50+ countries) Linux-based routers, demonstrating once again that OEMs still prefer commercial drivers. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to assist - Katia Shabanova
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  9. Why the Open Source Model Did Not Work in Three Cases
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  13. Microsoft have last year announced support for the inclusion of the exFAT technology into the Linux Kernel(1). This is an interesting example of a change to the exFAT ecosystem that has been mostly proprietary for almost two decades. Whatever Microsoft’s reasons for doing so - the consequence of this exFAT change is not at all evident at this stage.
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  17. Microsoft have generally done two things. They’ve made exFAT specs available to the general public (though still hiding transactional exFAT specs(2) away from public eyes) and they’ve promised(1) an exFAT patent fee exemption for OIN members.
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  21. Let’s first look into some cases where filesystems similar to exFAT were supported in Unix derivatives and how that worked from an open source perspective.
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  25. The most sound case is Android, which creates a native Linux ext4FS container to run apps from FAT formatted flash cards(3). This shows the inability (or unwillingness based on the realistic estimation of a needed effort) of software giant Google to make its own implementation of a much simpler FAT in the Android Kernel.
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  29. The other case is Mac OS - another Unix derivative that still does not have commercial support for NTFS-write mode – it only supports NTFS in a read-only mode. That appears strange given the existence of NTFS-3G for Linux. One can activate write support - but there’s no guarantee that NTFS volumes won’t be corrupted during write operations.
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  33. An additional example, away from filesystems, is an open source SMB protocol implementation. Mac OS, as well as the majority of printer manufacturers, do not rely on an open-source solution, as there are several commercial implementations of SMB as soon as a commercial level of support is required.
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  37. So, why didn’t the open source model work in these three cases?
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  41. The main reason is that in all of these cases, data structure specs and the description of algorithms are not the most important piece of the picture.
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  45. The root of the problem is in the variety of real-life situations where bugs and failures may occur and lead to a data-loss situations, which is a total no-go in the real world.
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  49. The open source community, successful though it has been in create open source programs and platforms, is still no guarantee of industrial-grade software development(3). The core to success in developing a highly reliable solution is a carefully nurtured auto-test environment that assures a careful track record and in-depth analysis for every failure, as well as effective work-flow, making sure any given bug or failure never repeats. It’s obvious that building such an environment can take years, if not decades, and the main thing here is not to know how something should work according to specs, but to know how and where exactly it fails. In other words, the main problem is not the resources needed to develop the code, the main problem is time needed to build up a reliable test-coverage that will provide a sufficient barrier for data-loss bugs.
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  53. Another problem with open source is that it is usually accompanied by a GPL license. This limits the contribution to such projects almost solely to the open source community itself. One of the major requirements of the GPL license is to disclose changes to source code in case of further distribution, making it pointless for commercial players to participate.
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  57. They’re limited to non-redistributable commits only, which is a pretty low priority case in the real world. If a commercial player commits anything to Linux publicly as an outcome of work for hire for a specific customer, there is no way to make money out of it in the future since it becomes available to anyone on a royalty-free basis. This also raises the question to a commercial customer on why they would pay to help others, who may well be competitors!
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  61. This all makes the future of Microsoft’s exFAT initiative quite vague. Clearly, this will end up as delivering “exFAT support” in the Linux kernel.
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  65. However, will it ever go beyond the read-only level? Will it ever be good enough for hardware manufacturers to rely on in commercial products? Only time will tell.
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  69. There is the good news that Microsoft still maintains a pool of four partners(5) able to provide a commercial-grade exFAT implementation when a truly “bulletproof” solution is required for Linux or any other OS. It’s also very interesting to note that Microsoft does not seem to be optimistic in providing its own commit of exFAT to the Linux Kernel – instead, it is leaving this effort to the open-source community.
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  73. Doing the job properly and in full would be the ultimate solution from the inventor of exFAT. We can only speculate as to why Microsoft is not doing this on its own, perhaps because of the complexity of this effort, or for other reasons.
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  77. Whatever the truth of the situation, serious players know that real solutions already exist for anyone unwilling to wait for a reliable open source exFAT implantation to arrive.
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  81. References:
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  83. 1. https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/opensource/2019/08/28/exfat-linux-kernel/
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  85. 2. https://docs.microsoft.com/ru-ru/windows/win32/fileio/exfat-specification
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  87. 3. https://www.xda-developers.com/diving-into-sdcardfs-how-googles-fuse-replacement-will-reduce-io-overhead/
  88. https://source.android.com/devices/storage/traditional
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  90. 4. Dr. Till Jaeger, Prof. Dr. Axel Metzeger (2020) „Open Source Software Rechtliche Rahmenbedinungen der Freien Software,“ page 13
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  92. 5. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/legal/intellectualproperty/mtl/exfat-licensing.aspx - Direct licensee with exFAT implementation
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  96. Paragon Software is the industry leader for cross-platform drivers, and an authorized partner of Microsoft. The following Q&A answers many questions asked by Paragon’s customers on daily basis. This Q&A helps better understand what is GPL, OSS, patents, OIN ecosystem, definitions of Linux, OIN license agreement and many other things around “free exFAT”.
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  98. --END--
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  102. SAGEMCOM CHOOSES PARAGON SOFTWARE’S PROPRIETARY EXFAT TECHNOLOGY FOR ITS LINUX-BASED ROUTERS
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  104. Built to handle the demands of modern digital media, Paragon’s one-stop licensed exFAT driver enables seamless cross-platform communication
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  106. FREIBURG, Germany – March, 2020 – Paragon Software, a leading file systems and storage management expert since 1994, and Sagemcom Broadband, a leading European group of the high added-value communication terminals, announce their partnership. Sagemcom chose Microsoft exFAT by Paragon Software to be embedded into its Linux-based series of routers for seamless cross-platform communication and best end-user experience. Paragon’s exFAT driver for Linux provides ultra-fast and transparent read and write access to exFAT volumes from Linux systems, with additional performance optimization for modern Linux kernels and lower CPU memory consumption.
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  110. Paragon’s exFAT technology is the industry’s top solution for embedded original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with Linux-based products. In 2018, Microsoft authorized the industry leader Paragon Software Group to provide a licensed one-stop exFAT technology solution for implementation into OEM devices. The proprietary exFAT technology is provided with full technical support and can be customized to any specific requirements.
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  114. “We are pleased to partner with Sagemcom Broadband to empower end-users with full access to exFAT-formatted data from Linux systems,” said Konstantin Komarov, CEO of Paragon Software Group. “Paragon is known for reliability and quality, and through its OEM reach, it is leading the way for greater interoperability. exFAT is the ideal system to integrate into routers and to provide streamlined file transfers, enabling a more powerful customer experience. The alliance with Sagemcom marks an important milestone in our business and underscores our position as a leader in the file system and storage market.”
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  118. Paragon develops embedded drivers that support exFAT under all popular operating systems, including Android, Linux, QNX and others. OEMs use Paragon technology to support SDXC cards formatted to exFAT across mobile, storage, network, IoT digital home and car infotainment products. Beyond file access, Paragon’s drivers provide the highest data throughput speeds, enabling flawless recording and playback of high-definition videos and a seamless VR/AR experience. These performance capabilities have set Paragon far apart.
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  122. Paragon exFAT driver is based on the company’s proprietary File System Link (FSL, formerly, UFSD) cross-platform technology that enables any device to communicate and gain access to storage media regardless of file system type. Already installed in millions of devices and integrated by major suppliers, Paragon’s cross-platform tools provide the highest data throughput speeds exceeding native performance. Paragon’s FSL technology provides rapid, transparent, full read/write access to non-native file systems such as exFAT, NTFS, FAT32, HFS+, APFS under Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, QNX, and other platforms. Paragon FSL provides a valuable enhancement for OEMs, benefiting external storage support end users.
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  126. Paragon File System Link key benefits:
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  130. Data safety and integrity
  131. Stable operation and fault tolerance
  132. Reliable performance over a wide range of applications
  133. Minimal resource footprint
  134. Consistent user experience
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  137. Officially covered by Microsoft patent rights, Paragon’s driver is available for direct implementation to OEMs, ODMs and independent software vendors for integration into devices and antivirus, forensic and data
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  139. recovery solutions without the need to obtain Microsoft licensing. Paragon is a preferred Microsoft exFAT supplier, and the partnership with Paragon offers consumers easy multimedia file exchange across platforms and devices.
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  141. Availability: The technology is available for licensing at sales@paragon-software.com. exFAT can also be purchased as an SDK library and can be embedded in any application. For more information on Paragon’s File System Link offerings, visit https://www.paragon-software.com/technologies/file-system-link-business/.
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  143. About Paragon Software
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  145. Since 1994, Paragon Software has been delivering reliable software products and technology solutions to help every day users, IT professionals, and businesses keep data healthy and safe. We offer file systems and storage management, deployment, and migration of heterogeneous appliances and systems, data protection, business continuity and disaster recovery for hybrid environments.
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  147. About Sagemcom
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  149. Sagemcom is a leading European group on the high added-value communicating terminals market (broadband solutions, audio video solutions, and smart grid end-to-end solutions) which is based in France. Group turnover totals €2.1 billion, the headcount of 5,500 employees works in more than 50 countries.
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  151. www.sagemcom.com // https://www.linkedin.com/company/sagemcom// https://twitter.com/Sagemcom //www.facebook.com/SagemcomOfficial
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  157. If you would rather not receive future communications from Paragon Software Group, let us know by clicking here.
  158. Paragon Software Group, Wiesentalstrasse 22, Freiburg, NC 79100 Germany
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