Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

For decades, computer use has largely focused on managing and manipulating files-- creating and consuming media, browsing the web, software development, and even, with such systems as UNIX and Plan$9$, direct device access can largely be reduced to locating, creating, reading, and writing files. To facilitate these operations, developers have created a vast assortment of file-systems, each presenting a unique framework underlying nearly everything people do with a computer.

For various reasons, these file-systems have historically represented only incremental improvements and alterations from their predecessors, leaving the basic design and interaction models relatively unchanged. Because of this, most common file-systems share a similar set of weaknesses and limitations, intrinsic to those models.

As an attempt to break with these traditional shortcomings, the author has created STUFFS, a Semantically-Tagged Unstructured Future File-System. It is intended largely as a research platform for investigating fundamentally new ideas in storing, locating, managing, and otherwise manipulating files, their data, and their associated meta-data. As such, STUFFS does not claim to perfectly solve all of these problems -- rather, it serves as a proof-of-concept and testbed for a number of promising new approaches.

Of these new features, users are likely most impacted by STUFFS's titular tag-based structure, which spurns the traditional folder hierarchy in favor of a folksonomy inspired, tag-centric approach to file organization. While this change retains backwards compatibility, and is therefore fully usable as a traditional FS, it has profound impact on potential user interaction. In order to support this high level transition, STUFFS is implemented using a relational database for storage and tag-resolution, and, as an exciting side effect, it has gained proper transaction support and full ACID compliance.

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