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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art? - Updated 2Xs
Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 01:20 AM EDT

When Network Appliance first announced it had filed a lawsuit against Sun Microsystems early in September over alleged patent infringement in ZFS, I didn't know what to make of it.

The public arguing back and forth didn't mean much to me. Even the Sun email [PDF] to NetApp the latter made public to bolster its side of the argument could be interpreted more than one way, and it was also clearly the middle of a conversation, with no way to know for certain what had happened before the email. It began, after all, "We are in receipt of your October 23, 2006 letter..." Personally, I think it's bad form to reveal private communications, but if you do, cherry picking one out of several isn't convincing to me, and anyway I like to reach conclusions based on what I see officially filed in courts. Compare what SCO told the media ("a mountain of infringing code") and what it told Judge Dale Kimball in a courthouse in Utah years later (in essence: "no code, but if you let us spring a surprise on IBM after discovery is closed, we can find maybe some methods and concepts to hit them with").

Update: Note that Sun now has a page on the NetApp litigation that provides an easy description of all the patents that even I can understand.

Update 2: Dave Hitz has now responded on his blog.

The NetApp complaint [PDF] along with the exhibits, like most patent complaints, wasn't too helpful, although I couldn't help noticing that the complaint clearly states that it was StorageTek that allegedly claimed NetApp violated its patents, prior to Sun acquiring StorageTeK. So that little detail made me wonder about NetApp's motives in starting the complaint, "Sun initiated this dispute by asserting that NetApp infringes patents presently held by Sun." The complaint goes on to relate about the StorageTek acquisition, but it struck me as odd, nonetheless. When I see lawyers slightly stretch, my alarm bells start to ring. And while NetApp declared loudly that it wasn't like SCO, I decided to wait and watch. Why, I asked myself would it be so worried about being perceived that way, if it *wasn't* like SCO?

Then nothing much happened, no answer from Sun was filed, and I knew from experience that this meant that the parties were likely in settlement discussions. That is quite typical after a complaint is filed, and often you can work something out without the expense and distraction of litigation. As you've seen in the SCO wars, the annoyance factor alone is considerable, so usually you at least try to solve things, and it's easier when both sides know litigation is inevitable if no agreement can be reached.

So I decided I didn't have to know who was right or who was wrong. I did have a question about NetApp's story though: Why, I asked myself, would Sun go after NetApp for patent licenses, which is the story NetApp told, and then open source it all shortly thereafter?

I know the Sun email mentioned a cross license, but that seemed to follow NetApp claiming Sun was infringing its patents, and frankly, a cross license is usually how these things get settled to just make it go away. So I still had this question in my mind. And significantly, I saw nothing in the email threatening litigation at all. So why, I asked myself, was NetApp litigating?

Sometimes, when you see a lawsuit that doesn't make sense to you, it means it is about something other than what it seems. The SCO litigation is a beautiful example of litigation as competitive strategy if one assumes, as I do personally that Microsoft was behind that SCOcart pushing it along, at least in the beginning.

Now, I'm not saying it's impossible for a corporation to suddenly change course, but open sourcing software isn't something you just snap your fingers and you do it. When Sun wanted to open source Solaris, it took literally years to make sure every permission needed was obtained. Now, if you develop an application yourself, it's easier, obviously, but it's still not like chewing gum. So why, really, would Sun go after NetApp and then open source the patented software? It made no legal sense to me. This detail of NetApp's story remained a puzzlement in my mind.

Wednesday, I read two articles that put it into clear relief, and made it clear to me that Groklaw should get involved and cover this litigation. The first was this press release, where NetApp recounts how proud it is to be increasing its involvement with Microsoft, titled "NetApp Increases Commitment to Microsoft Products and Technologies, Delivering Business Value to Microsoft Customers and ISVs Worldwide".

Now, I know Sun has partnerships with Microsoft too, so it's not conclusive. Most businesses do have to do some business with the monopoly. But the tone of the press release does say something to me:

Network Appliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) today announced it is increasing its commitment to Microsoft products and technologies by increasing its investment of hardware and software data management solutions in Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs) worldwide. With hundreds of customers and Microsoft independent software vendor (ISV) partners around the world having completed successful proofs of concept, architectural design sessions, and strategy briefings leveraging NetApp® storage and data management solutions, NetApp is deploying additional resources into MTCs worldwide, to further demonstrate its commitment to solving customers’ business problems using the Microsoft Windows Server platform, including Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, and other Microsoft products and technologies. This global strategic relationship enables NetApp to better serve customers in MTCs through greater consistency in product offerings and delivery, no matter where customers do business around the world. Through its multimillion-dollar global MTC investment of hardware and software, NetApp can leverage best-in-class environments the world over to deliver the exact data management solutions customers require.

“The stature of Network Appliance as a global participant in the MTC program will help provide demonstrated value to customers and ISVs worldwide,” said Simon Witts, corporate vice president, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft Corp. “Microsoft is committed to working with leading storage vendors such as NetApp to demonstrate the value Microsoft applications and technologies provide customers. This growth allows joint customers to take advantage of Microsoft and NetApp technical expertise in the MTC program to solve their most pressing business and technical challenges.”

“NetApp is proud to increase its commitment to Microsoft and the MTCs. Our increased investment in the MTC program demonstrates our current success and desire to serve customers using the Windows Server platform,” said Patrick Rogers, vice president of Products and Partners at Network Appliance. “As the fastest-growing SAN vendor in the marketplace today, NetApp provides significant value to our customers who are deploying Microsoft products and technologies. We are excited to continue our record of achievement, innovation, and integration with the Windows Server platform and leveraging MTCs worldwide to demonstrate the value NetApp and Microsoft bring to our mutual customers and partners.”

Increasing its involvement with Waldo, eh? What if, I asked myself, this is part of what seems to be a coordinated push by the proprietary dudes to block, harass and hold back open source with litigation? That is Sun's story, after all, and the press release brought that story back forcefully to my mind. So I took a look at Jonathan Schwarz's blog, and lo and behold, Sun is going to file an answer with counterclaims:

So later this week, we're going to use our defensive portfolio to respond to Network Appliance, filing a comprehensive reciprocal suit. As a part of this suit, we are requesting a permanent injunction to remove all of their filer products from the marketplace, and are examining the original NFS license - on which Network Appliance was started. By opting to litigate vs. innovate, they are disrupting their customers and employees across the world.

In addition to seeking the removal of their products from the marketplace, we will be going after sizable monetary damages. And I am committing that Sun will donate half of those proceeds to the leading institutions promoting free software and patent reform (in specific, The Software Freedom Law Center and the Peer to Patent initiative), and to the legal defense of free software innovators.

I think it's time to look for prior art. You can find all the NetApp patents here, and if you know of any prior art, I think it would be useful to post it. For one thing, the NetApp patents might end up used against Linux file systems too, life in the big city being what it is and all.

I also feel that when a company open sources its own code, the immediate response shouldn't be punishment by litigation to try to make it stop. IBM has been through it and now Sun. IBM was guilty of nothing at all, at least from all we've seen in the litigation. Nothing except supporting Open Source and Linux. Now Sun decides to join the Open Source fun, and wham, litigation. I begin to discern a pattern. I guess the proprietary folks have a strategy to use patents as the battering ram.

So, while I keep an open mind, I'm sure that getting rid of patents with prior art is worth doing, no matter who holds them, whenever possible. Software and patents need to get a divorce before they kill each other. For years, the USPTO has granted patents even they now realize they should not have allowed to issue. And those chickens are coming home to roost. Unless we get rid of as many patents as we can, software development will become something people used to do. I doubt IBM or Sun would agree with me, and they'd probably prefer that only bad patents be tossed overboard, but they cling to patents because it's what is normal to them. It's not normal to me. It's like seeing seriously overweight people gobbling junk food and washing it down with soda. You see their doom approaching and just feel like saying, "Hey, there is an alternative." Only the big guys will have any hope of developing software if something isn't done about patents, and there will be no more FOSS. It's that stark.

Don't participate in finding prior art, or read the patents, if you work in this particular area of software development, of course. NetApp includes as Exhibit B an article on The Zettabye File System [PDF] and a presentation as Exhibit C [PDF]. Exhibit D is an article about WAFL, the NetApp competing file system. It begins:

This paper describes WAFL TM (Write Anywhere File Layout), which is a file system designed specifically to work in an NFS appliance. The primary focus is on the algorithms and data structures that WAFL uses to implement Snapshots , which are read-only clones of the active file system. WAFL uses a copy-on-write technique to minimize the disk space that Snapshots consume. This paper also describes how WAFL uses Snapshots to eliminate the need for file system consistency checking after an unclean shutdown.

Keep in mind that the email from Sun's lawyer to Network Appliance stated: "For instance, it is well known that ZFS does not use NV-RAM (, question 12), which is required by the claims in at least one of the patents you provided." As you see, the key is to read the claims and distinguish what ZFS does from the claims, one patent after another, claim by claim. One patent, Exhibit A, dates back to 1998. Others are later. Is it possible that we'll knock out both sides' patents with prior art? I suppose it's possible, and I don't care. I'd call that good. Then this lawsuit could pack up and go home.

I note that Dave Hitz on his blog back in September wrote about what inspired WAFL, and I'm thinking there might be some prior art found by following the threads he provides:

VMware’s Founder Helped To Inspire WAFL

At VMworld yesterday, I got to meet with Mendel Rosenblum (, one of VMware’s founders. I want to share the story of how he helped inspire WAFL.

In the early days of NetApp, when we first started developing our WAFL file system, we drew inspiration from three main file systems: FFS, Episode and LFS:

The Berkeley Fast File System (FFS) was written by Kirk McKusick. I had worked on FFS at two prior companies (MIPS and Auspex), so I was very familiar with it.

The Episode File System was developed by Transarc, which spun out of the Andrew File System (AFS) project at Carnegie Mellon. One of the architects of Episode was Mike Kazar, who joined NetApp when we acquired Spinnaker.

The Log-structured File System (LFS) was developed as part of John Ousterhout’s Sprite operating system project at Berkeley.

The graduate student who actually designed and implemented LFS was Mendel Rosenblum. It took me quite a few years to figure out that this guy whose work I admired 15 years ago was the same guy who started VMware. Imagine my surprise!

I think you should read what Schwartz wrote in his blog entry, so I asked for permission to post it in full.


Jonathan's Blog

ZFS Puts Net App Viability at Risk?

About a month ago, Network Appliance sued Sun to try to stop the competitive impact of ZFS on their business.

I can understand why they're upset - when Linux first came on the scene in Sun's core market, there were some here who responded the same way, asking "who can we sue?" But seeing the future, we didn't file an injunction to stop competition - instead, we joined the free software community and innovated.

One of the ways we innovated was to create a magical file system called ZFS - which enables expensive, proprietary storage to be replaced with commodity disks and general purpose servers. Customers save a ton of money - and administrators save a ton of time. The economic impact is staggering - and understandably threatening to Net App and other proprietary companies. As is all free innovation, at some level.

So last week, I reached out to their CEO to see how we could avoid litigation. I have no interest whatever in suing them. None whatever.

Their objectives were clear - number one, they'd like us to unfree ZFS, to retract it from the free software community. Which reflects a common misconception among proprietary companies - that you can unfree, free. You cannot.

Second, they want us to limit ZFS's allowable field of use to computers - and to forbid its use in storage devices. Which is quizzical to say the least - in our view, computers are storage devices, and vice versa (in the picture on the right - where's the storage? Answer: everywhere). So that, too, is an impractical solution.

We're left with the following: we're unwilling to retract innovation from the free software community, and we can't tolerate an encumbrance that limits ZFS's value - to our customers, the community at large, or Sun's shareholders.

So now it looks like we can't avoid responding to their litigation, as frustrated as I am by that (as I said, we have zero interest in suing them). I wanted to outline our response (even if it tips off the folks at Net App), and for everyone to know where we're headed.

First, the basics. Sun indemnifies all its customers against IP claims like this. That is, we've always protected our markets from trolls, so customers can continue to use ZFS without concern for spurious patent and copyright issues. We stand behind our innovation, and our customers.

Second, Sun protects the communities using our technologies under free software licenses. As an example, Apple is including ZFS is in their upcoming "Leopard" OS X release. This is happening without any payment to Sun (that's how truly free software works). Under the license, we've waived all rights to sue them for any of the patents or copyright associated with ZFS. We've let Apple know we will use our patent portfolio to protect them and the Mac ZFS community from Net App. With or without a commercial relationship to Sun.

That's true for any licensee - in fact, Net App could adopt ZFS today and receive the same protection. The port is done to FreeBSD, the OS on which Net App's filers are built. They could use it without owing us a dime, and they'd be protected from our portfolio. (The quid pro quo? They'd have to agree to offer reciprocal protection to Sun.)

Third, we file patents defensively. Like MySQL or Red Hat, companies similarly competing in the free software marketplace, we file patents to protect the communities from which innovation and opportunity spring. Unlike smaller free software companies, we have one of the largest patent arsenals on the internet, numbering more than 14,000 issued and pending globally. Our portfolio touches nearly every aspect of network computing, from multi-core silicon and opto-electronics, to search and of course, a huge array of patents across storage systems and software - to which Network Appliance has decided to expose themselves.

And to be clear, once again, we have no interest whatever in suing NetApps - we didn't before this case, and we don't now. But given the impracticality of what they're seeking as resolution, to take back an innovation that helps their customers as much as ours, we have no choice but to respond in court.

So later this week, we're going to use our defensive portfolio to respond to Network Appliance, filing a comprehensive reciprocal suit. As a part of this suit, we are requesting a permanent injunction to remove all of their filer products from the marketplace, and are examining the original NFS license - on which Network Appliance was started. By opting to litigate vs. innovate, they are disrupting their customers and employees across the world.

In addition to seeking the removal of their products from the marketplace, we will be going after sizable monetary damages. And I am committing that Sun will donate half of those proceeds to the leading institutions promoting free software and patent reform (in specific, The Software Freedom Law Center and the Peer to Patent initiative), and to the legal defense of free software innovators. We will continue to fund the aggressive reexamination of spurious patents used against the community (which we've been doing behind the scenes on behalf of several open source innovators). Whatever's left over will fuel a venture fund fostering innovation in the free software community.

And on that note, I want to thank the free software advocates from across the world who've offered expert testimony, and reams of prior art to defend ZFS, and the community of which Sun's a part. Please rest assured we will use this opportunity to highlight the futility of using software patents to forestall competition - in the commercial marketplace, and among the free community.

In the interim, if you're a Net App customer looking for alternatives, we would be pleased to talk to you about lowering the cost of proprietary storage - if you're a technical sort, start by trying out ZFS in software form. (There are also lots of reviews available, this one just posted). We'd also be happy to send you a free trial Storage System based on ZFS (pick the x4500 here). And remember, we indemnify our customers.

The shift to commodity infrastructure is as inevitable as the rising tide - although for some, I'm sure it feels like a rogue wave.


The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art? - Updated 2Xs | 279 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
I doubt MS is behind this
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 01:47 AM EDT
Having recently attended one of Sun's open source storage seminars I think the
main reason NetApp is suing Sun relates to competition in the NAS arena. Sun
intend to compete head to head with NetApp and EMC using an appliance based
on Solaris and ZFS at 1/3rd the cost of an equivalent NetApp solution. Go

Note that NetApp is not insisting that Sun not use ZFS at all, just in storage

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT comments here
Authored by: IRJustman on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:07 AM EDT
Post 'em if ya got 'em.

Make clickies where appropriate per posting instructions.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: IRJustman on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:08 AM EDT
Post 'em if ya got 'em!


[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks-related
Authored by: IRJustman on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:09 AM EDT
For discussion of anything in the News Picks column.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:35 AM EDT
Obviously we'll need to see what comes out of this, but I would like to remind
people out there that NetApp does not have a history of litigation. From what I
understand, they have behaved very respectably over the years. Comparing either
one to SCO at this point would be very unfair (especially NetApp, since SUN is
the only party of the two known to have financed SCO's campaign).

Both companies have their merits and are big on innovation. Let's hope they can
settle this and get on with it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

We should cover this
Authored by: kawabago on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:58 AM EDT
I'm pretty sure I heard collective gulp when that was posted!

[ Reply to This | # ]

The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: LionKuntz on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 03:16 AM EDT
I want to stress this enough to sink in:

THE CLAIMS are a grant of private property right. They constitute what has an
exclusion right, a license to sue.

However, the claims must be interpreted by the SPECIFICATIONS and the DRAWING

The claims are like a mining claim, a filed record of the four corners of
private property. They are not free, but necessarily require a trade of full
disclosure so that the constitutional mandate for patents to "advance the
arts and sciences" may occur through the teachings. The BEST MODE of
practicing the invention is required to be DISCLOSED in the SPECIFICATIONS, and
also in the DRAWING FIGURES if applicable.

The entire patent must be taken as a whole before any single claim can be
understood. the '292 patent is classified by the USPTO as to what the USPTO
believes are the novel aspects of the invention. Two classifications are given
for the '292 patent: CCL/707/203 and CCL/707/205. Prior art may be found in
other fields according to the SCOTUS KSR ruling on obviousness and motivation to
try with expectation of success. However, the classifications are the field of
the invention and a place to look first, excluding patents without one of the
relevant classifications.

If the TEACHING or DISCLOSURES of patents in the class make this invention
obvious to one skilled in the arts, then the claims can be knocked out one by
one until they are all gone, or not much is left.

The capitalized words I used above have formal meanings in the patent business.
They may have meanings different from your prior experience, and you should make
a point of learning the formal meanings in patents.

The classifications too have formal language used with definitions included.

Go here for the class query page:

Enter the first class and subclass, and select "Class Definition
(HTML)" and submit the form. It returns the class and subclass. The [P]
icon on the left will retrieve a list of patents including that class and
subclass. In this case:

Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for:
CCL/707/203: 1468 patents.
Hits 1 through 50 out of 1468

In this example the target patent is:
#1313 5,819,292 Method for maintaining consistent states of a file system and
for creating user-accessible read-only copies of a file system

There are 154 patents with lower numbers.

Prior art does not follow from date of grant of patent, which creates the patent
number increment, but from date of filing (and also somewhat earlier in a
"first to invent" system.

The Classification page has definitions which apply, for example:


The terms below have been defined for purposes of classification in this class
and are shown in underlined type when used in the class and subclass
definitions. When these terms are not underlined in the definitions, the meaning
is not restricted to the glossary definitions below.


Data that represent or identify a source or destination. (Also see Data)


A machine that inputs data, processes data, stores data, and outputs data.


Representation of information in a coded manner suitable for communication,
interpretation, or processing. See Address Data, Instruction Data, Status Data,
and User Data in this Glossary.


A collection of data arranged for ease of storage, retrieval, updating,
searching and sorting by computerized means.


See Processing, below. ..."

You cannot apply fuzzy conversational language usages, but must apply the formal
definitions. Definitions given inside a patent over-rule all other exterior
definitions for word usage. The patent must have a recognizable definitions
declaration for that factor to apply, or else the USPTO classification
definitions are dominant.

Patents cited by the '292 patent include 46 prior art patents.

"Other References" lists 62 non-patent publications (including Sun
Microsystems, Inc., Sun OS5.0 Network Interfaces Programmer's Guide, p. 108,
Jun. 1992..)

When sifting and evaluating prior art it is useful to apply the USPTO
classifications of the patent. It is easy to waste your own time and waste the
time of everybody else arguing prior art that doesn't even touch the subject
matter of the invention as defined by the USPTO. Similar words are used in many
fields with different formal definitions precisely where they are used. Just
because some statement in the patent triggers a word association with something
else does not make that something else prior art. There has to be an actual
public disclosure which can be documented as to being at least before filing
date: May 31, 1995, or public use or sale before that date, preferably at least
one year before the date just to be on the safe side, but sometimes you just
take whatever you can get.

All the 46 patents listed as prior art by the '242 patent each themselves have a
list of prior art, and there are 162 newer patents which cite the '242 patent as
prior art which each have other prior art lists. may have a better facility for searching prior art than the
search functions at the USPTO and Google. (Google is a contract partner with the
USPTO to serve patent data.)

Registered users can post comments on patents, especially relevant to prior art.
Comments on Groklaw get lost in a crowd and are not pegged to a particular
patent number. There's no reason that the data shouldn't be posted both places,
but only has a function where prior art comments are attached
and recorded by patent number. Groklaw search function fails to organize or
locate the prior art comments in any way, but most importantly comments may be
buried in blogs of 700 comments even if you could recall the keywords in the
comment to search for it.

Groklaw was never designed as the ideal patent prior art repository. was.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Just normal Business
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 03:19 AM EDT
I view the NetApp / Sun thing as normal business between companies. Nothing
special to see here, move on :-)

There are many ways companies compete, slapping each other with patents is just
one. Granted, it isn't the nicest way, but it is quite common.

Since this is normal business, I am not much inclined to get involved in a
search for prior art. Let the lawyers work for their money. By the way, if
Groklaw wants to get involved in a search for prior art, I would expect that the
patent claims of both sides are examined. So not only NetApp's claims but also
Sun's claims should be subject to a prior art search. Thats what I would call
fair and unbiased reporting on Groklaw.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 03:27 AM EDT
Before there was WAFL, there were other file systems, but there were also
databases. A database storage manager, the bit of a database that manages the
huge volumes of actual data on actual disks, is very much like a file system.
One database that must have been known to the NetApp principals, Postgres, had a
snapshot feature very similar to NetApp's, implemented much the same way, and
for much the same reason.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 04:09 AM EDT
"Only the big guys will have any hope of developing software if something
isn't done about patents, and there will be no more FOSS. It's that

*Ahem*, please look out from your ramparts and over the moat.

We don't have software patents. *You* do.

Your patent system was written from the ground up to protect your own interests,
and ensure that you could avoid empire/colonial patent taxes, by 're-inventing'
under your skewed patent regime.

The US looked at a fully functioning patent systems and said 'that aint going to
work in our favour, let's rewrite the rules'. Now you would like to ram your
baised systems down the throats of India and China and bleat like spoiled kids
when they quite rightly turn and go back to playing in their own sandbox and
ignore you. To which generally the US response would be 'oh well, heck let's
just invade someone then, Who's at the front of the queue Iraq or Iran? Oh we
already did Iraq; right then...'

Let's be clear; *you* will end up with no FOSS, us over here in the boondocks
known colloquially as the rest of the world, well, we'll carry on just as we
are, and with luck and a following wind we'll end up with no Microsoft.

Where do you want to go today?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: igb on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 05:45 AM EDT
I'm pretty certain that LFS didn't implement snapshots, and that's at the core
NetApp's claims. FFS certainly doesn't (the hack that Sun did with fssnap on
FFS is single-ply for backups only). I don't know anything about Transarc.

NetApp's multi-level CoW snapshots were pretty innovative when they were
shipped, to put it mildly: it took years for Auspex and Sun to provide anything,

and all they shipped prior to ZFS were mechanisms to take a single-level
snapshot (ax_snap, fssnap) for consistent backup purposes. There are
products that do similar tricks at a block level (most storage vendors have
them), but seamlessly integrating the snapshots back into the hierarchy so they

can be seen by clients was (as I recall) unique at the time. ZFS does it now,
do Pillar and most of the rest of the NAS vendors: but they are unlikely to
provide prior art.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: jseigh on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 06:05 AM EDT
I mess around with lock-free algorithms and a lot of the techniques used by
filesystems and databases to ensure consistent state are similar. You worry
about the order of i/o operations using fsync() instead of memory barriers and
which i/o operations are atomic w.r.t. other operations. But this stuff has
been going on for a long, long time. Even VM/CMS filesytem used a form of copy
on write w/ atomic commit back in the 70's. It wasn't very efficient for
probably the same reasons the FAT filesystem was. The newer stuff probably
looks more like STM (software transactional memory) for efficiency and
performance reasons.

In the area of lock-free programming which I work in, there's really only a
small number of basic low level techniques and most inventions and algorithms
use some combination of these. Usually the way these are used is non-trival but
sometimes they're not. But these techniques almost always show up as a claim so
almost all patents overlap a little or a lot.

Plus you have to add in the fact that these claims are written in legalese. So
I can look at a claim and think I know what technique it is referring to. But
who knows? IANAL. And whether overlapping claims mean anything? Ditto.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 06:10 AM EDT
> software development will become something people used to do

Just in the US, I'm guessing countries sensible enough to not go with software
patents will continue to advance with FOSS?

[ Reply to This | # ]

If I had to ask...
Authored by: Ian Al on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 06:26 AM EDT
Just to help out anyone else who needs to ask,
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In computing, a storage area network (SAN) is an architecture to attach remote computer storage devices (such as disk arrays, tape libraries and optical jukeboxes) to servers in such a way that, to the operating system, the devices appear as locally attached. Although cost and complexity is dropping, as of 2007, SANs are still uncommon outside larger enterprises.

By contrast to a SAN, network-attached storage (NAS) uses file-based protocols such as NFS or SMB/CIFS where it is clear that the storage is remote, and computers request a portion of an abstract file rather than a disk block.

Network types

Most storage networks use the SCSI protocol for communication between servers and disk drive devices. However, they do not use SCSI low-level physical interface (e.g. cables), as its bus topology is unsuitable for networking. To form a network, a mapping layer is used to other low-level protocols:

Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP), mapping SCSI over Fibre Channel. Currently the most common. Comes in 1 Gbit/s, 2 Gbit/s, 4 Gbit/s, 8 Gbit/s, 10 Gbit/s variants.

iSCSI, mapping SCSI over TCP/IP.

HyperSCSI, mapping SCSI over Ethernet.

FICON mapping over Fibre Channel (used by mainframe computers).

ATA over Ethernet, mapping ATA over Ethernet.

SCSI and/or TCP/IP mapping over InfiniBand (IB).

So, the Microsoft deal is to include NetApp SAN devices as manageable elements in a Microsoft managed network. A SAN looks to a server like a directly attached hard drive or similar storage device even though the 'drive' is connected over a network. With NAS the server/computer has to use something like Samba to access the files and the 'drive' looks like a remote computer.

Ian Al

Linux: Genuine Advantage

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Transarc is owned by IBM
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 07:25 AM EDT
AFS and DFS were the commercial distributed file system products of Transarc.
AFS is I believe open sourced now. DFS may still be in maintenence support by

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maybe Linus will rethink his anti-Sun rhetoric
Authored by: qu1j0t3 on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 07:46 AM EDT

I think the only really interesting thing [Sun has] is ZFS, and even there, I suspect we'd be better off talking to NetApp, and seeing if they are interested in releasing WAFL for Linux

As if ZFS and WAFL were anything close to the same thing...!

I have a semicolon and I'm not afraid to use it.

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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 08:23 AM EDT
I believe that this is another M$ sponsored legal jab at
FOSS. Why?

1) It has become patently (pun intended) obvious that M$, internally, is on the
trailing edge of obosolesence in
the area of computer and software technology. They have to
get it all from other entities by any means that works.
The rest of M$ efforts goes into holding back any entity
that is technologically superior using their great wealth.
No real technical competition can be allowed because M$
knows that it will loose in that arena.

2) M$ chooses and uses its "partners" and other businesses
to further its growth without regard to the the well being
of those other business. Why is that? See 1)

3) M$ cannot compete against FOSS using "normal" business
methods i.e. better products, advertising, etc because
FOSS is not a business. It is an idea, a philopsophy.

4) M$ knows that other businesses will choose profit
over ideas and philosophy; business is business.

5) The only way M$ can "beat" FOSS (see 1 again) is to
try to destroy those entities that promote the FOSS idea
or believe in the FOSS philosophy, and in the case of
businesses, convince the business that it will not be
profitable for their business to embrace FOSS.

M$ has absolutely no desire to coexist or share the
computer software world with any other entity. M$ is
slowly building a corral around the software world and
there is very little anyone can do to stop that process,
that I can see, short of violence. Don't look to the US
Gov for help either because the US wants to dictate to
the rest of the world.

I'm sure there are many excellent historians here (I am not)
that can offer some likely predictions. Perhaps some
workable solutions to this problem can be developed too.
I've had my coffee and breakfast. The headline stories
in the FOSS world are not looking very good at his point.

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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: CraigAgain on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 09:10 AM EDT
'Too much of a coincidence. I'm one of what must be thousands of non-programming people who follow Groklaw for philosophical reasons. I, and they, watched the entire SCO fiasco from the sidelines, feeling (justifiably) guilty for not helping when I/we could. Is there some way this group can be used in an organized fashion to provide meaningful nontechnical legwork and support?

Don't change your dreams to fit reality. Change reality to fit your dreams.

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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: stephen_A on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 09:25 AM EDT
Not sure if its relevant but in my last job we had a clustered pair of rack mounted Digital Alpha Servers with shared SCSI storage running an Oracle Database (in an Active/Passive node configuration).

When we needed to do a back up we took a snapshot of the disks and backed up from there - if a disk block was flagged as modified since the snapshot it went to the snapshot and grabbed the block that was current at the time of the snapshot.

This meant that it was possible to do cold back up of a large Oracle Database with about 1 minute of down time (shut-down, snap shot, start-up, backup, destroy snapshot) as the snapshot retained a READ ONLY version of the disk structure at the time of the snapshot and only needed storage to handle the blocks that changed from that point on.

This was back when 2100s were the Dog's Danglies of Alpha Boxes which must be a good 10+ years ago.

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A silly correction
Authored by: jeevesbond on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 10:16 AM EDT

NetApp Increases Commitment to Microsoft Products and Technologies, Delivering Business Value to Microsoft Customers and ISVs Worldwide

Should be:

We are the Borg. Lower your shields. Your biological and technological distinctivness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile!

Well that's what it sounded like to me anyway. :)

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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art?
Authored by: AHGrayLensman on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 11:03 AM EDT
Has anybody talked to Linux kernel dev Daniel Phillips about this? Several years ago he was working on a file system called "tux2", which he more or less abandoned because he found out it might violate some of NetApp's patents and he didn't have the time, energy, or finances to fight it at the time. He claimed to have prior art, too.

Another thing to keep in mind: Sun claims to have applied for 56 patents on various aspects of ZFS, and it's not clear to me that their patent covenant for it applies to anything other than OpenSolaris. It might not be a bad idea to start tracking down prior art on those, in case Sun tries to pull a Netapp on the btrfs developers.

(Personally, I think the best possible outcome of the NetApp/Sun suit would be for all the patents on both sides to be invalidated. The only one of NetApp's patents in this case that fails neither the prior art test nor the obviousness test IMHO is the original one on keeping the FS self-consistent at all times. IANAPL, though.)

"You are finite, Zathras is finite, this... is wrong tool. No, not good, never use this!" --Zathras, "War Without End (pt. 2)", Babylon 5

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Sun should have lots of prior art
Authored by: storwatcher on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 12:47 PM EDT
First. On the MS/NetApp connection. I doubt there's an MS angle here. NetApp
sells a lot of product into the Windoze Server market. MS has always had a void
in storage and backup/recovery. Storage vendors have recognized that and have
provided product tailored to the Windoze server space. NetApp provides some
great capabilities for customers using MS's database, collaboration and email
products. In order to get MS customers to buy your product you have to have
certifications and appear close to MS. I suspect that MS also have a lot of
NetApp's products internally too, so MS is a NetApp customer as well.

NetApp will get close to anybody that can help sell them product. Oracle uses a
lot of NetApp internally and NetApp tries to appear close to them too. IBM OEM's
NetApp Filers and software and NetApp works with some IBM Servers. As a storage
only vendor (as opposed to servers and storage) you really have to work with

However, NetApp is big enough and independent enough that they don't have to
front MS.

NetApp must really feel threatened by ZFS to sue a server vendor. They are
probably afraid that anyone could put ZFS in a box to control storage and steal
their market with lower cost/margin devices. NetApp has repeatedly said that
they were a software vendor rather hardware vendor. Their whole value
proposition and profit is in their software. Almost all their features are based
on the ability to index blocks of data, copy and manipulate the indicies.

Second. Most of the prior art, I'm aware of, that provided similar function was
in a product named Iceberg which was announced by a company called Storage
Technology Corp around 1989 and made generally available in 1993 by StorageTek.
As I recall, the cost of creating the technology put Storage Technology in to
Chapter 11 and it emerged as StorageTek.

Iceberg was a storage system for IBM compatible computers (mainframe). It
provided a dual parity RAID system. Since it used SCSI disk internally, it had
to emulate IBM Count Key Data (CKD) devices. It also virtualized mainframe
device addresses. It stored data compressed and removed free space from datasets
(IBM mainframe files pre-allocated space). It was able to do a lot this because
it related the data blocks stored on disk to the OS's view of storage by
indicies or pointers. Iceberg didn't update in place like RAID5, 1 or JBOD
systems. It wrote the data where it wanted and didn't delete the old data until
it was ready, it just changed pointers. Iceberg had a snapshot capability that
only copied pointers. Recovery from a snapshoted copy recovered the old pointers
to the old data.

Externally, Iceberg and its follow-on products, including IBM's RVA (Ramac
Virtual Array) are very similar to what NetApp does with WAFL. I suspect that,
as usual in litigation, the devil will be in the details. Was what Iceberg did
exclusive to CKD devices? Was using this concept for files or SCSI LUN's an
innovation or an obvious extension of what StorageTek did? (Customers were
asking StorageTek in the early 90's when it would be available for UNIX systems
so it would seem obvious, but who knows.) Does ZFS violate NetApp's patents and
did that occur before Sun bought StorageTek (and does it matter)?

StorageTek was always very secretive about what was really happening under the
covers in Iceberg. I don't know how much was patented. The code was all internal
code and quite possibly microcode so it wouldn't be easily readable.

Since Sun now owns StorageTek, Sun has access to all the designs, code and
documentation related to Iceberg as well as product plans to move into the
NFS/CIFS or Windoze/UNIX space.

So, in addition to what Schwartz said in the blog about a defensive portfolio
and the original NFS license, Sun has a lot of prior art.

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In case NetApp decides it's public information is starting to harm it
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 12:52 PM EDT

An initial list of the patents identified:

  1. 5,819,292
  2. 6,892,211
  3. 6,857,001
  4. 7,1 74,352
  5. 7,200,715
  6. 7,162,486
  7. 7,133,964
  8. 5,403,6 39
  9. 5,410,667


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Prior art for snaphots?
Authored by: rsmith on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 01:06 PM EDT
Marshall Kirk McKusick presented his work on filesystem snapshots at USENIX 99
(june 1999).

Intellectual Property is an oxymoron.

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Possible Prior Art - ZFS?
Authored by: Maciarc on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 01:23 PM EDT
I'm a layman (I'm not a lawyer, patent worker, or anything else even closely related.), but it seems to me that ZFS itself is prior art.

Sun issued this Press Releasen September 14, 2004. About halfway down the page is a bulleted list of features...

ZFS achieves its impressive performance through a number of techniques:

* Dynamic striping across all devices to maximize throughput
* Copy-on-write design makes most disk writes sequential
* Multiple block sizes, automatically chosen to match workload
* Explicit I/O priority with deadline scheduling
* Globally optimal I/O sorting and aggregation
* Multiple independent prefetch streams with automatic length and stride detection
* Unlimited, instantaneous read/write snapshots
* Parallel, constant-time directory operations
(emphasis in original)

The patents (with descriptions as shown on Sun's page on the NetApp litigation):

Complaint Para. 23: '211 issued May 10 2005 re: 'copy on write' - Specifically listed (second bullet)
Complaint Para. 30: '001 issued Feb. 10 2005 re: 'writable snapshots' - Unlimited write snapshots? (next to last bullet)
Complaint Para. 37: '352 issued Feb. 6, 2007 re: 'snapshot' - Specifically listed (next to last bullet)

How can they sue over features described 5 months (or 8 months or even 29 months) before the patents was issued?

For corrections to this post, click on one of the many child posts...

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Authored by: CustomDesigned on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 01:58 PM EDT
The ReiserFS writes anywhere, and updates a pointer to the new blocks so that
the filesystem is always self consistent. Previous root pointers are read-only
snapshots of the filesystem. I don't know if it came before or after, however.

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  • ReiserFS - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 03:16 PM EDT
The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art? - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:02 PM EDT
I'm sorry, but the dismissal of the cross-licensing letter
makes no sense. NetApp claimed that Sun wanted to be paid
money as part of the cross-licensing deal, and as far as I
know this hasn't really been rebutted by anybody. If Sun
were doing it to make the patent threat from NetApp go
away, wouldn't it be the other way around?

(Of course, it remains to be seen why NetApp is suing.
Could be because they feel threatened by the competition,
could be because they feel threatened by Sun holding
patents over their heads.)

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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art? - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:02 PM EDT

I there is a failure to undestand, it's on your part, I fear.

If you go and have a second look at 5611&subj=news (the URL from the original post in this thread) you will notice that a) the chart contains only sea cables and b) there are sufficient internal interconnections in Asia and Europe, and there are cables connecting Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa and South America without ever touching the US.

So, if all routes touching the US are cut right now, we'd have the following effects

  • Internal traffic in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and probably South America will be virtually unaffected. Maybe some slodowns for those innereuropean routes that run via the US today because transatlantic lines are fat and cheap, but that's only a matter of hours to days until new routes are established. As a side note, an almost complete cutoff of all transatlantic internet lines happened at 9/11, because the central exchange node for the US east cost was located in the WTC - and inner-european routing survived with only some minor, temporary glitches
  • Transcontinental traffic will probably be a bit slower, because most big lines run via the US. But a slwodown is by no means a cutoff.

Additionally, there are other worldwide connections besides sea cables:

  • Land cables. Very much an option for connecting Asia and Europe. And pretty easy to install/maintain as well, if you happen to have e.g. an existing railroad line along your desired route. Which the Russians have, in fact: The Trans-Siberian Railway. I'd be very much surprised if they did not have (or at least plan) a data cable running along the Transsib.
  • Sattelite links.

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  • And don't forget - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 02:51 PM EDT
Sun steals competitor's tech then sues with over-broad patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 03:57 PM EDT
I hope the title caught your attention - I'm exaggerating
slightly, but not a lot. I took a look at some of the
patents Sun is using to try and drive NetApp out of
business, and they're nasty. The ones I've looked at so

- 5,410,667 - which appears to be a patent on RAID (though
is so heavily obfuscated that it's hard to tell)
- 5,403,639 - also very heavily obfuscated, but appears to
be incredibly broad; so much so that I can't tell what
it's patenting. It appears, however, to be a patent on
- 5,459,857 - this looks like a patent on a storage group
based variant of RAID 1
- 5,749,095 - an odd one, something to do with SMP
systems; I have absolutely no idea what this has to do
with NetApp
- 5,761,662 - again, an odd one, and a fairly nasty one;
this is basically a patent on websites serving up
different information based on a user profile. I should
imagine a lot of stuff infringes on this.
- 5,941,954 - another odd one, looks to be about Java
applets that listen to a port and forward the messages to
the server.
- 5,925,106 - a patent on servers that retrieve their name
and description from the network and display it on a local
display for identification purposes
- 6,356,984 - this surely can't be as broad as it appears,
but I can't see what's more specific about it. Can anyone
figure out what this is actually patenting?
- 6,591,303 - a patent on trunking several network
connections together to create a faster network connection
- 6,681,261 - some kind of matrix switch to allow network
devices to be connected together in different
configurations under software control
- 6,873,630 - another way of combining several slower
network links into one faster one, this time using
byte-based round robin.
- 6,983,343 - a form of failover for storage devices based
on switches that detect when a controller fails and
transfer the device to the other controller

I've done this in a bit of a hurry, and I'm not a lawyer,
so there may be mistakes. Anyway, if Sun succeeds in their
attempt, be nervous. Be very nervous. (Especially if
you're a NAS vendor.)

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Prior Art Dates
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 07:09 PM EDT

Can someone work out the actual dates for prior art? The reason I ask, is that Hitz et. al. published a paper "File System Design for an NFS File Server Appliance" in 1994 USENIX 1994, presented January 19th) Which describes pretty much what they're claiming in the '292 patent which has a filing date of May 31, 1995, but is a continuation patent from application 71,643, June 3, 1993 (which was abandoned).

Is the prior art date 1 year previous to the original and abandoned filing or 1 year previous May 31, 1995? Some of us don't qualify as 'persons having ordinary skill in the art' relating to patent law.

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Digital ADVFS (OSF/1, Digital Unix) as prior art
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 08:17 PM EDT
Developed in the 'early 90s',

Did snapshots, CoW, data block sharing, etc. I don't grok patent law, but it
seems like it would be worth looking at.

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David Hitz at NetApp doesn't seem to understand what patents are.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 10:55 PM EDT
From Dave Hitz'z Blog
Suppose that I steal and then open-source Jonathan’s patented recipe for chocolate chip cookies. The recipe will probably live forever in the web. There is no getting those bytes back, and if it’s a good recipe, there is no stopping individuals from baking those cookies.
If protected information does leak into open source, it will probably live forever in the web,
David Hitz at NetApp doesn't seem to understand what patents are. He seems to confuse trade secret with patents. His example is "stealing" and then "open-sourcing" a cookie recipe (i.e. publishing a secret recipe). I have some bad news for "Dave". If you patent something, it isn't a secret anymore. Everyone has a right to know all about it. That means you can't "steal" a patented cookie recipe. At most, you could make and sell patented cookies without a patent license, but that has nothing to do with "stealing" or "leaking" a recipe that was published in a public place.

The company that "stole" (published) NetApp's "secrets" in WAFL wasn't Sun. It was NetApp who did it when they filed a patent and there's no getting those bytes back. NetApp "leaked" the recipe and that information will live forever in the internet.

NetApp can assert patent claims against Sun for selling a product incorporating ZFS (whether they are justified in doing so is another matter). They can do the same for Apple, or anyone else who sells a product using ZFS. They can't however claim that putting an open source license on ZFS constitutes "stealing" NetApps "secret patents".

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prior art: multisession CDs
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 12:25 AM EDT
I'm pretty sure they were before all of these patents, and they seem to cover
most of the more general claims of most of the patents. If the patents are
restricted to implementations so specific that multisession CDs are avoided,
they should be trivial to work around.

Multisession CD-ROMs, of course, contain multiple root directories (a 'most
recent' and older ones) but a later session can *point at* files in an earlier
session; so later versions of the filesystem can share the same data, except for
the parts which changed. In fact, this was the standard implementation of
"modifiable" CD-Rs, which had to keep track of all earlier versions,
because the medium was read-only. (This was all before CD-RWs became

These were available by 1992, apparently
( I suspect they
will knock out very large portions of the claims, or at least cause the claims
to be very very restricted.

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Newer filesystems as derivitive works
Authored by: Bill The Cat on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 01:12 AM EDT
Most new filesystems today are build upon the foundations of earlier
filesystems. Thus, while they may offer new improvements, they are all
derivitive works from prior variations.

How much different does it have to be to get its own patent? If I make a red
flashlight and patent it because it has a colored beam, can't somebody else
patent a flashlight with a colored beam that's blue? Sure but, is the second
patent as important as the first?

This is a gray area that I would like to hear more about.

Bill The Cat

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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Nominar on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 02:33 AM EDT
I used a DEC-20 over 20 years ago.
Its virtual memory management included a copy on write feature that worked as
1 Load an executable image into virtual memory.
2 When a page in the executable is updated (program is writing to variables), a
new copy of this page was created.
an replaced the original page.

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NetApp' blog response is nonsense
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 02:52 AM EDT

[Sun]Which reflects a common misconception among proprietary companies - that you can unfree, free. You cannot.

[NetApp blog response]Jonathan seems to be arguing that once something has been put into open source, it is beyond the law.

What absolute nonsense. Free Software relies on copyright law to preserve its freedom. The reason you can't make GPL software "unfree" is that the law stands in your way.

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Apple not in sights, yet
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 05:11 AM EDT
About a month ago a colleague asked me about the on-off
rumors of ZFS in the next release of MacOS. I replied by
pointing out the NetApp suit, and asking would Apple just
pay up and shut up, as has been their habit.

Well, now Jonathan S says Apple has a Get Home Free card,
and I am using 10.5 Leopard, full retail release, which does
contain a zfs read-only extension that is not loaded by
default at boot time. There is a read-write facility in the
Developer Tools, but I haven't installed that yet....

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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 06:11 AM EDT
Please see map at: j=news

This is (as has been explained before in this thread) a map of undersea cables. It does not show land based cables, nor does it show satellite links. It does show, however, that - even if the biggest connections are between Europe and the US - there are plenty of connections both within Europe, within Asia, and connecting the rest of the world without ever touching the US.

Please combine thoughts with p;;

That is an article explaining that the next big problem in internet growth is not fibre capacity (we got that in plenty, both because advances in technology make it possible to send more data over the same fibres and because during the dotcom bubble, every telco invested hugely in backbone capacity and we now have enough to last for a while even at the current growth rates).

Instead, the article alleges, next big problem are the routers at both ends of a cable. The author of the article proposes some changes in network protocols that allegedly make routing easier. Incidentally, the author of the article is the CEO of a company that sells the proposed solution.

I fail to see how this article should relate to the map of undersea cables above - a change in routing protocols won't change anything in the physical structure of cable interconnects.

and with -internet-giant-interrupts-file-sharing-programs-in-the-name-of-customer-service /

That is the (sad but common) story of an end-user provider ripping off their customers. If that provider happens to have a local monopoly on the last mile at your place, you are screwed. If that provider does not have a local monopoly at your place, you can change providers to avoid being ripped off. But this has nothing to do with backbone interconnects.

Giving that better than 95% of world traffic passes through US

Where does that figure come from? It may be true, but I guess it's quite a bit high.

and that trafic is at full load

That's just your assumption. In reality, backbone capacity is pretty cheap nowadays, because most backbone connections are far from working at full capacity. Anyway, even assuming you are right, we could just start by fighting spam more effectively - that would free up a lot of transport capacity.

explain how 110% of world traffic is going to pass through non existing cables that avoid US thus avoiding US law and control.

As has been explained before in this thread, there are undersea cables connectiong the rest of the world without touching the US (even on your map), and not every cable is an undersea cable. If you haven't noticed, you don't have to swim to get from Europe to Asia.

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Prior Art - Andy Tanenbaum's "Amoeba"
Authored by: davecb on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 08:44 AM EDT
Amoeba was the predecessor to a lot of the work on
filesystems with immutable files. It ran on modified
Sun 3/160s circa 1980. An early paper is

Tanenbaum, A.S. and Mullender, S.J.: Amoeba - A Capability-Based Distributed
Operating System, Proc. Conf. Local Networks & Distributed Office Systems,
Online, pp. 363-377, 1981.

And Tanenbaum is and he can
probably comment usefully on predecessors to that work...



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The NetApp-Sun Patent Litigation Is On: Anyone Know of Any Prior Art? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: bsdvax81 on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 02:02 PM EDT
What are the relevant dates for prior art?
Early file systems for WORM drives come to mind
as "prior art". Which are early enough to be relevant?
In fact early NetApp add-in cards for Sun 3's should
preceed any patent that hasn't already expired ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

ICL version of ZFS from 1990
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 04:44 PM EDT

The patent was filed and rejected in 1993 although there was described in a publication in 1990. The name is the same but they have different ancestry although the end results are similar. In this case the Z referred to the time domain and related to the way changes overlaid earlier changes and the base filesystem.

This is a link to the ICL patent on the Gauss site - w/EP579368

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Vfork as prior art?
Authored by: darkonc on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 07:15 PM EDT
Vfork allows two units (in this case processes) to start by sharing a common storage space, where changes to said space by either entity results in the 'dirty' block of that memory space being first copied into the private space of the appropriate entity and being marked as non-shared.

The difference between this and a filesystem is actually trivial, since filesystems are well known to be able to be placed in either volatile or non-volitale memory -- the only difference being access times. Ramfs, tmpfs , and ramdisks are all examples of the generalization of filesystems across volatile and non-volatile memory. 'Silicon disks' based on RAM disks with battery backup further blur the distinction between Volatile and non-volatile memory, as does battery-backed RAM on motherboards (e.g. static/CMOS BIOS RAM).

In this context, once you have the idea of a shared storage/memory space with modified blocks being converted to non-shared, the generalization to non-volatile would easily pass the obviousness/POSITAS test under the regime dictated by recent SCOTUS decisions.

Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

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