Paragon’s NTFS3 Driver is About to Become A Part of the Linux Kernel

Paragon's NTFS3 Driver

Paragon Software is looking to mainline their read-write NTFS3 driver into the mainline kernel tree as a significant improvement over the existing NTFS kernel driver.

The New Technology File System (NTFS) is Microsoft’s proprietary file system first introduced with Windows NT 3.1 in 1993. It is the default file system used by Microsoft operating systems since Windows XP.

With NTFS support, Linux users can use attaching external NTFS drives or boot Windows PCs into Linux for troubleshooting.

The existing Linux NTFS driver, which implementation dated back by 2001, is basically unmaintained in the kernel and lacks proper write support along with other features. The NTFS-3G is another open source implementation of Microsoft NTFS that includes read and write support, but it’s a filesystem in userspace (FUSE). The main drawback of this implementation is speed.

In August of 2020, Paragon Software, the German software company that develops hard drive management software, proposed its own implementation of Microsoft NTFS called NTFS3, as a Linux kernel driver.

We at Paragon Software GmbH want to make our contribution to the Open Source Community by providing implementation of NTFS Read-Write driver for the Linux Kernel.

Paragon’s NTFS3 driver fully supports reads and writes and many other features not found with the existing Linux driver. This new driver is much better off for those needing to deal with Microsoft NTFS file-systems from Linux.

Besides having complete write support, Paragon’s NTFS3 driver supports full NTFS v3.1 specifications including support for journal replaying, normal/compressed/sparse files, and other features.

NTFS3 – There Was No Pull Request Yet

Paragon Software is trying to get its NTFS driver into the Linux kernel, but has submitted it as a single dump of 27,000 lines of code, sparking complaints that it is too large to review.

So, how exactly do you expect someone to review this monstrosity?

Nikolay Borisov, Linux kernel developer

Since then, 26 more patches has been submitted, but still no pull request. Earlier this month, Linus Torvalds called on Paragon to submit a pull request for NTFS3. He also encouraged the people inside Paragon to make sure they really understand their intentions.

The one other thing I do want when there’s big new pieces like this being added is to ask you to make sure that everything is signed-off properly, and that there is no internal confusion about the GPLv2 inside Paragon, and that any legal people etc are all aware of this all and are on board.

Paragon’s developer Konstantin Komarov responded to Torvalds and reiterated the company’s commitment to continuing to maintain the driver. In addition, now the company has finally confirmed that “we’ll need several days to prepare a proper pull request before sending it to you.”

If everything goes well, it looks like this NTFS3 driver will finally enter the mainstream version in Linux 5.15 by year’s end. That definitely will make many system administrators as well as Linux users with dual-boot systems much happier.

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