January 11, 2007

A lot of people are talking about MacFUSE, released today for OSX. From Ars Technica:

FUSE was originally developed in the Linux world as a filesystem (like what you browse in the finder, or over the network from your Windows machine) that's implemented in userspace. This means that you can load and unload new filesystems without having to deal with messy kernelmode stuff. The pluggable nature and its accessible API means that it's super simple for programmers that aren't rockstars to write filesystems for, well just about anything. There are even ways to write modules in the best programming language of all time, Python!

MacFUSE supports many filesystems, notably NTSF, remote FTP and remote SSH. For a lot of people this is more than enough to be excited about, but I’ve always been fine with SMB, Transmit and scp; lack of filesystem support has never been on my list of complaints about OSX.

The part that interests me is that a FUSE filesystem doesn’t really need to represent actual files, it can be any sort of data store. I haven’t looked through all the plugins yet, but a few examples are connecting to Flickr or Gmail. Take it a step further, and there’s no reason you couldn’t make a plugin to interface with an SQL database, or Active Directory objects, all directly through Finder. I haven’t decided yet if it would actually be useful, but this type of integration is certainly cool. It’s just up to the plugin developers to find good uses for it.

My understanding right now is that MacFUSE isn’t completely stable yet, and you can expect to beachball finder once or twice if you decide to try it. It’s still not bad at all for a first release, and it will be interesting to see what comes out of this in the future.

Marc Charbonneau is a mobile software engineer in Portland, OR. Want to reply to this article? Get in touch on Twitter @mbcharbonneau.