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Problems for the Linux kernel NTFS driver as author goes silent
Concerns for Paragon CEO, and head kernel boss Torvalds suggests seeking maintainers
There are doubts about the future of the new read-write NTFS driver in the Linux kernel, because its author is not maintaining the code, or even answering his email, leaving the code orphaned, says a would-be helper.
It took a long time and a lot of work to get Paragon Software's NTFS3 driver merged into the Linux kernel. It finally happened in kernel release 5.15 on the 31st October 2021. It has received no maintenance since.
This will definitely, in my opinion, affect the process of how new filesystem drivers will be merged to upstream in future
According to programmer Kari Argillander, who has offered to help without avail and posted his concerns to the kernel mailing list, since that time the driver's author, Konstantin Komarov, "has kept total radio silence. I have tried to contact him with personal mails with no luck."
There was some activity on the driver's GitHub page in November last year, but Komarov has not sent any pull requests (PRs). (A "PR" is Git's somewhat unintuitive term for the process of asking a project's managers to incorporate changes.)
The Reg asked Argillander if there was any chance that this could mean that the NTFS3 driver may be dropped from the kernel.
He replied: "I do not think so. [The email] was just dropping a bomb: that it might be a good option. I do not believe Linus would want that, at least not yet. Still, this will definitely, in my opinion, affect the process of how new filesystem drivers will be merged to upstream in future."
- Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should: Install Linux on NTFS – on the same partition as Windows
- Linux kernel 5.15 released with new NTFS driver plus an LTS sticker slapped on it
- How Windows NTFS finally made it into Linux
- GitHub merges 'useless garbage' says Linus Torvalds as new NTFS support added to Linux kernel 5.15
We asked if the alternative would be for someone else – possibly Argillander himself – to take over maintaining the code, even without Komarov's agreement.
"Definitely. This is the way open source works. I will definitely want to maintain this with someone, but we really need someone who knows the NTFS internals more. There is Namjae Jeon, who says that he has experience with that. So I will email and see what we can do."
Head kernel boffin Torvalds agreed:
If you are willing to maintain it (and maybe find other like-minded people to help you), I think that would certainly be a thing to try.
It won't be an easy job. The original effort at inclusion failed with a stinging response from Torvalds, and even in its revised, more modular form, it's a massive chunk of code.
The Register also asked Paragon Software's PR rep to ask for comment via LinkedIn.
We suspect that Paragon Software may have been unprepared for the workload of cooperating with the single biggest and most active software-development project in the world.
If you can help shed light on the issue, please get in touch with the author here or using the byline above. ®