Is the sky actually falling? (NTFS streams)

Andrew Bartlett abartlet at
Sat Sep 24 02:03:47 GMT 2005

Reading recent articles about Reiser4 made me think again about the
streams puzzle, and I wanted to put some ideas out as to why I don't
think the sky is actually falling.  

I fully support adding streams support to Samba, particularly Samba4,
and hope that either the EA interface gets extended, openat() is
implemented, or some how we get real streams.  However, I'm not sure the
sky is actually falling:

The reason I don't expect to see streams extend into everyday use on
every file on a CIFS server is because of Unix, and the Unix traditions
that have crept into the windows world.  If I have a multi-streamed
document, with vital data (compared with security state tags, or author
metadata) in those streams, can I (genuine question, I don't know the
answers to these):

 - Upload the streamed file to a website?
 - Send the streamed file as a standard e-mail attachment?
 - Place the streamed file in a zip archive?
 - Burn the streamed file to a CD?
 - Backup with standard backup software?  (I expect at least this is

Assuming that streams are silently stripped when doing these things, I
suggest that the author of any software that relies on streams will find
their users silently frustrated.  Will Windows users put up with the
pain Mac users endured, where every file had to be packed with stuff-it
before leaving the Mac?

Instead of being 'every office document', I instead expect this will be
an issue at large, specialist sites where the IE security tagging or
custom software become the showstopper.  With EAs becoming standard for
SELinux and reiser4 pushing again, I think we can handle these
specialist cases too.

Andrew Bartlett
Andrew Bartlett                      
Samba Developer, SuSE Labs, Novell Inc.
Authentication Developer, Samba Team 
Student Network Administrator, Hawker College
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