by Darius Kazemi, June 29 2019
Tell us about your file system
RFC-180 is titled “File System Questionnaire”. It's authored by Alex McKenzie of BBN and dated June 25th 1971.
The technical content
The subcommittee working on file transfer and data transfer has decided that while they are standardizing the actual transfer of data, they are not going to standardize how file naming, path naming, and access control work. This is probably in part because there are many extremely different operating systems connected to the ARPANET. But this means that a user doing a file transfer should have access to some kind of document that explains “when you connect to a Multics host to transfer a file, this is the kind of file naming you should use.”
This RFC contains the questionnaire so that the subcommittee can compile and eventually publish all of this information from anyone planning to run a file transfer server.
They want to know things about different servers/hosts like:
- what comprises a pathname
- how access control works (some systems use passwords, some have separate read/write access, some require group-level access before user-level, etc)
- basic functions of the local file system
- how files are represented on disk (what encoding, how many bits is a word, and so on)
Responses are to be sent to Alex McKenzie, and he'll get on the phone with you if you're confused about any of this. He promises to publish the results as a future RFC.
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I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with ActivityPub, including a Node.js reference implementation, an RSS-to-ActivityPub converter, and a fork of Mastodon, called Hometown. You can support my work via my Patreon.