FAT32 for SDCard and Patent Threat


19 posts
by stuporhero » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:39 pm
Is there any way to avoid having a fat32 fs on the SD Card for the GPU firmware? Running Linux is a sure fire way to have Microsoft breathing down your neck with patents :(

http://www.groklaw.net/pdf2/MS.....answer.pdf
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by ShiftPlusOne » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:45 pm
The card has to have a FAT32 partition?
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by ShiftPlusOne » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:46 pm
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by Lob0426 » Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:22 pm
Microsoft has like 80% or better of the home market and now they think they have to attack linux based devices. It seems like Microsoft has more lawyers than programmers nowadays. Maybe if their products were not so expensive they would have windows on ROKU. Guess that is not the way they think. Windows based phones will be up against the same wall.
So how do you fix this if you are microsoft? Sue any product manufacturers that use linux on their devices. Major companies just are not happy with any competition at all.

Do the manufacturers of SD cards pay royalties to microsoft to produce their cards with FAT32? If they do then microsoft cannot sue them.
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by reggie » Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:25 pm
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by RobinJ » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:52 am
Won't it just work if the card is formatted as a... let's say.... EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/BTFS/XFS/... filesystem?
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by stuporhero » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:23 am
Apparently the GPU firmware is stored on FAT32, see here (I realise this is a wiki, so if it is wrong this whole thread is useless!) http://elinux.org/RaspberryPiB.....rd#BootRom

Also, although the Linux Kernel Patch works around the FAT patents, Microsoft have continued to sue Android vendors (Linux, ARM) charging more for the patents/IP than for a Windows Mobile license! I flagged this to make sure RasPi is in the clear when released :)
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by Gert van Loo » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:29 am
We may be a little protected from that as MS might want to avoid headlines like "Microsoft sues educational charity". But I would not like to count on that!
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by hajj_3 » Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:09 am
when do the FAT32 and NTFS patents end, isn't there a 14yr limit to patents or something then they become invalid?
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by MoonTEC » Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:45 pm
Why not just use FAT16 and short file names for GPU firmware?
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by yoonsikp » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:56 pm
I like the idea of using fat16, but can the gpu support that?
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by Lob0426 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:31 pm
Pure Fat16B has a limit of 2GB or 4GB with 64k Clusters. 64k clusters are very inefficient. If you store 1byte it takes up at least 64k. For 2GB that would mean at least 32k clusters. Going FAT16 would effect all storage devices attached to RasPi. So your hard drive if you connected one would be limited to 4GB also unless of course you could use even larger more inefficient cluster sizes. Another strategy would be to break it into partitions. I can not remember what the maximum number of partitions is. This can be a real pain unless you set certain folders to certain partitions. Many of us had to use FAT16 originally. The only reason it had no real effect back then was that HDD's cost a fortune back then. I paid $599 for a 125MB drive back there. About 4 dollars a MB, now it is cents per GB. I did testing back then and found that a 4k cluster was the best trade off. I don't really worry about cluster size nowadays as mass storage is really cheap. FAT32 allows up to 2TB.

The one out I could see for RasPi is that you could put it back on the storage device manufacturers as they all pre-format to FAT32 for most of the SD cards and HDD's. Since they are using the format they are responsible for any licensing/ royalties. The Raspberry Pi foundation is not re-formatting those cards they got already formatted to FAT32 are they?

Microsoft just needs to layoff some lawyers and get back to making on honest product rather than suing over the FAT32 short/long file name issue.

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by Svartalf » Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:42 pm
Quote from Lob0426 on August 31, 2011, 18:31
Pure Fat16B has a limit of 2GB or 4GB with 64k Clusters. 64k clusters are very inefficient. If you store 1byte it takes up at least 64k. For 2GB that would mean at least 32k clusters. Going FAT16 would effect all storage devices attached to RasPi. So your hard drive if you connected one would be limited to 4GB also unless of course you could use even larger more inefficient cluster sizes. Another strategy would be to break it into partitions. I can not remember what the maximum number of partitions is. This can be a real pain unless you set certain folders to certain partitions. Many of us had to use FAT16 originally. The only reason it had no real effect back then was that HDD's cost a fortune back then. I paid $599 for a 125MB drive back there. About 4 dollars a MB, now it is cents per GB. I did testing back then and found that a 4k cluster was the best trade off. I don't really worry about cluster size nowadays as mass storage is really cheap. FAT32 allows up to 2TB.


The thing is...the R-Pi, itself, only really needs to support FAT-16 for boot (And, I suspect it does...). The main filesystem would be in Ext3/4/BTRFS or similar. The workaround Tridge came up with should work out just fine for the other problem of being able to support FAT32 formatted thumbs, disks, etc. being plugged into the USB.
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by Lob0426 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:17 pm
I hope it doesn't come up at all. In the third world the SD will probably all the storage they have so it could have a huge impact to RasPi and the foundations goals. Microsoft just needs to get out of the court and get back to software.
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by patrickhwood » Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:38 am
Quote from hajj_3 on August 28, 2011, 11:09
when do the FAT32 and NTFS patents end, isn't there a 14yr limit to patents or something then they become invalid?

Used to be 17 years from the time of issue; now it's 20 years from the time of filing (minus any delays in the patent office sitting on someone's desk).
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by jamesh » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:16 am
Current partition is small FAT partition for boot code, then EXT3 for rootfs and the rest. This is so you can access the boot partition from a windows machine for ease of getting data on/off i.e new kernel images. I'm not sure that you NEED the boot partition to be FAT.

Following is personal opinion....

However, I am not sure of connected USB drives (Flash or hard) - they are usually FAT32, and if you want to read them and have the drivers on board.....you infringe the patent. (AFAIK, IANAL).

Raspi could get round this I think by releasing the kernel without FAT 32 support. It could be added later by the end user if you need it. Probably.
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by Michael » Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:47 am
Quote from jamesh on September 1, 2011, 09:16
Raspi could get round this I think by releasing the kernel without FAT 32 support.


...or by applying the patch mentioned towards the start of this thread.
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by jamesh » Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:03 pm
Quote from Michael on September 1, 2011, 12:47
Quote from jamesh on September 1, 2011, 09:16
Raspi could get round this I think by releasing the kernel without FAT 32 support.


...or by applying the patch mentioned towards the start of this thread.


Indeed - I missed that link.
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by jesola » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:36 am
Fat 16 have a 2GB Limit.
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