Cygwin filesystem

Larry Hall (Cygwin)
Mon Sep 18 23:47:00 GMT 2006

On 09/18/2006, Francis Rossi wrote:
> > No one on this list has vocalized such a plan AFAIK.  
> I'm glad to hear that, Larry, that's why I decided to post it here. This 
> thought came to my mind more than one time while dealing with Cygwin (for 
> 3-4 years).
> > >If disk access times
> > >for large directories are your targeted goal, your solution would require
> > >the use of some non-native file-system type to support this.  You would
> > >need a Windows file-system driver to be able to manipulate the new
> ...
> > >existing file-system that resolves the problem you state without 
> introducing
> > >other difficulties, it would be a great addition to the open-source 
> community,
> > >regardless of whether it's an integrated part of Cygwin or not.
> Thanks, this is the only substantial reply to my post so far. I've never 
> dealt with doing filesystems, so I'd rather leave it to someone else. But 
> it seems to me that you're going a bit too far. The ordinary user wouldn't 
> know it's a separate "partition" after it's mounted. There is mnt utility 
> in cygwin already if I remember correctly. If you put all /usr into an iso 
> image and mount it via mnt, it would be practically what I mean. The main 
> minus here would be the speed of accessing files, but we can't talk about 
> it until there's something to experiment with.

The mount utility in Cygwin is not analogous to Linux/UNIX.  It's mostly
there to support DOS<->POSIX path mapping, though it has some other uses
as well.  The thing to note is that it doesn't support any file-systems
that Windows itself doesn't.  So if you want a new file-system type or a
file-system in a file, you need Windows to understand this.  If that's not
the case, then you've now limited access to your Cygwin installation to
Cygwin tools only.  Believe me, you don't want to go there.  In addition,
if this isn't handled at a low enough level, performance will suffer and
we have enough complaints about that already.

I didn't realize you were on Win98.  FAT[32] file-systems aren't known for
their efficiency.  If you're looking for a relatively quick solution to this
problem, I'd recommend using NTFSDOS Pro from  With this,
you may find that the current performance problems you're seeing disappear,
assuming the other suggestions about setting up a separate partition doesn't
already resolve this for you.  Of course, NTFS has its own performance problem
with large numbers of files in a directory but that's more on the order of
thousands of files.  I expect that this isn't your problem.

The bottom line is though, if some additional functionality is needed in
Cygwin, someone has to implement it.  Otherwise, it's just an idea waiting for
an implementor.  We have a pretty good list of things in that category
already.  So don't sit up nights waiting for this if you're anxious to see
it. ;-)

Larry Hall                    
RFK Partners, Inc.                      (508) 893-9779 - RFK Office
216 Dalton Rd.                          (508) 893-9889 - FAX
Holliston, MA 01746

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