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So it's a networked file system, just implemented better? That was my takeaway from the post.



We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11571640 and marked it off-topic.


Sad to see so many replies assuming bad intent. GP pretty clearly meant "to the operating system, it works just like a network filesystem". That's an interesting technical detail, not the start of a flamewar.


"Just implemented better"? "Just"?

If it were as simple as you imply it is then surely we'd see this change made trivially to SMB, NFS, WebDAV, or SSHFS.

I agree with you that in hindsight this is an obvious feature, but they actually decided to implement it, and I bet it wasn't entirely trivial.


I think the problem with making this change to more generic networked protocols is several aspects become a lot trickier then you can't impose limitations on the filesystem.

The biggest problem, as usual, is invalidating the local cache. For Dropbox, who own and implement the authority on the shared drive state, it is a _very_ (relatively speaking) simple problem.

Other protocols like SSHFS have to deal with filesystems of all kinds. Many of those do not support anything like inotify, and polling over huge directories would be horrible experience or performance wise (long delay or slowing down the whole host machine).


It's a long time coming to end-user products, and it's extremely hard to give it the right semantics for all use-cases.

I first had a good look at caching distributed filesystems (and tried to build one) in my undergraduate thesis in 1999.


> I agree with you that in hindsight this is an obvious feature

In hindsight? It's about time! I've been waiting for this for years...


Poor word choice on my part, I wasn't intending to downplay the significance.


Yeah, it's also just 0s and 1s in various arrangements over electrical wires, nothing special.


That was my read too. But Dropbox itself is just 'rsync, but with a better user experience'. In that case the significant improvement of user experience made for a whole new way of operating. The same could be true with this.


A Boeing 777 is a Curtiss Jenny, just implemented better.




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