domenica 6 aprile 2008

The case for case insensitivity

when I first discovered that the default file system on OSX was case insensitive, I said it was impossible. I was sure it's case sensitive, it's unix, and unix IS case insensitive, isn't it? The truth was that I had been working on it for more than a year, but my mbp was indeed case insensitive, and I never noticed only it because the bash was shielding me from this detail. I configured bash to be more case-aware (bind "completion-ignore-case On"), but after having some issues with subversion, I decided that my next installation would have been a standard unix case sensitive one.

So, fast forward to present. I decided to install the HFS+ case sensitive file system (aka HFSX), although I had a little voice in my head screaming... I also read some warnings but decided to proceed anyway. After a few months of working on a case sensitive mac, it's time to wrap up:

- Backups. It's reported that backup tools on mac can be confused by case sensitive fs. Indeed, Time Machine didn't recognize its own backup, and suggested me to format again the external firewire (sic!). Ok, I copied the files manually and then started again with time machine. Scaring, isn't it? mmm... perhaps I had to listen to the little voice.
- FileVault. Then I discovered that Filevault simply DOESN'T work on a case sensitive file system. So, if you are planning to use it, beware: you'll have to choose between filevault and case sensitivity. I don't know if FileWault is worth its weight, but this is really annoying. Well, let's go on with our case sensitive FS for a while.
- Adobe. Can you believe it? Photoshop CS3, Photoshop Elements and other well known mainstream apps DON'T work on a case sensitive file system. This was really hard to believe for me, but apparently they can't spend 1 week of their precious engineering time to fix this. Someone managed to workaround the issue (I'd say it's a bug, but the Adobe guys don't think so) but it looks to me very dangerous. The truth is that photoshop is untested on HFSX, and any serious user should not rely on the "hacked" version.
- iPhoto. I have also read some people having issues with iPhoto on HFSX

So, blame on Apple, because they can't manage to make their own apps working well on HFSX, and because they make the case insensitive fs the default. And blame on Adobe, because they are supposed to be a serious software house: in 2008 saying that this is not an issue and/or it's not worth fixing it's kinda lame. C'mon guys, just renaming some files in your VCS and do some regression testing can't be that hard!

Ah, I'll go back with a case insensitive FS as soon as possible. Thanks, Adobe.

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