Haiku Lifts Another Interoperability Barrier

These days, Haiku is seeing a long standing barrier to interoperability fading away as its NFSv4 client is getting merged. It’s the first sign for the feature to be included in future releases of Haiku.

Following a quite successful Google Summer of Code project, the stabilization and testing steps have finally reached a satisfactory state, late February.  Satisfactory enough for the main coder of the client, Pavel Dziepak, to announce the ongoing merging to begin.

Fruition can already be seen in the nightly builds, and issues brought forward by the increased exposure are being fixed.

NFS is a protocol used to remotely access file systems, untied to any particular platform.  In other words, a Haiku user could access files being hosted on a Linux or Mac OS workstation. Or a compatible NAS. But unlike FTP or SFTP, it’s an actual file system.

Haiku released its first alpha a few years ago, and this new feature should make it a more appealing proposition. At least, it eases the testing of new releases. Lacking a proper upgrade mechanism (package manager), updating Haiku more or less equals re-installing it. Thus, adding the ability to store files remotely should alleviate that irritation a bit, although several caveats remain.

Haiku’s widespread usage (or reliance?) of extended attributes could limit the usefulness of NFS, and neither the protocol nor the client should be blamed, at least not totally. While NFS specifies how to transfer those, its actual implementation mainly depends on the server side.  So it might be a bit presumptuous to expect it to work perfectly just yet, especially when the server is hosted on Linux – where extended attributes support is less than stellar. Moving files back and forth on such a server might just strip such meta-data, or have other undesirable effects.  That being said, copying those same files to a FAT file system (USB thumb drive) would incur similar issues.

Now, other things are baking and it’s definitely smelling quite good in Haiku’s kitchens. We’ll see pretty soon what good comes of it!