Microsoft to Bring exFAT Support to the Linux Kernel

Posted on August 28, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Linux, Mobile with 29 Comments

Microsoft announced today that it is supporting the addition of its exFAT file system to the Linux kernel.

“Microsoft loves Linux,” Microsoft distinguished engineer John Gossman writes in the software giant’s Open Source Blog. “We say that a lot, and we mean it! Today we’re pleased to announce that Microsoft is supporting the addition of Microsoft’s exFAT technology to the Linux kernel.”

Microsoft created exFAT in 2006 as the successor to FAT32, a file system it had previously created for inclusion in Windows 95 OEM Service Release (OSR) 2 in 1996. It’s designed primarily for flash memory systems such as SD and microSD cards, and supports the large storage devices that FAT32 does not.

But the problem with exFAT, of course, is that it’s proprietary and customers must license the technology to use it. For this reason, exFAT support has never been available to Linux, including Linux-based systems like Raspberry Pi.

Well, that’s changing.

“It’s important to us that the Linux community can make use of exFAT included in the Linux kernel with confidence,” Gossman says. “To this end, we will be making Microsoft’s technical specification for exFAT publicly available to facilitate development of conformant, interoperable implementations. We also support the eventual inclusion of a Linux kernel with exFAT support in a future revision of the Open Invention Network’s Linux System Definition, where, once accepted, the code will benefit from the defensive patent commitments of OIN’s 3040+ members and licensees.”

Those interested in the technical specification for exFAT can learn more at the Microsoft Docs website.

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