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All file systems I've encountered have been based on folders - you have a root folder, which contains files and subfolders, which in turn contains files and subfolders, and so on.

Is there a better alternative to organizing files, and will it replaced the current system any time soon? Feel free to include some history about file systems, if you judge that's in order in your answer.

Interpret the term "better" any way you please.

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I don't think so, since there have been some attempts (e.g. WinFS), which all have been killed off. The "folder" structure is very common hierarchical structure. I can be viewed as taxonomy. I feel that it's a natural way to organize resources.

On the other hand, you can have front end views, like "recent files" or "all my music". But there is no real reason to implement that on low level, in the filesystem itself. You can have data structure for that build on top of the hierarchical filesystem.

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Is there a better alternative to organizing files,


will it replaced the current system any time soon?


You can't replace the hierarchy as a way to organize concepts.

All file systems have hard links: the current file systems are not hierarchical.

People use them that way because people like that.

However, the file system is a "networked" database (not a hierarchical one). We just don't make much use of the network capabilities for one obvious reason. Anything other than a simple hierarchy is confusing.

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Great answer, thanks. – Tamás Szelei Mar 17 '11 at 10:34
Sort to say whichever underlying implementation there'll be, if nothing, we'll always use a hierarchical structure to organize our own files at least. – Filip Dupanović Mar 17 '11 at 10:40
hard links are forbidden to form cycles, so it's still hierarchy (not a tree though). – vartec Mar 17 '11 at 10:41
-1 Because you need to qualify and explain the "better" system, instead of just saying "yes" – Darknight Mar 17 '11 at 10:54
I don't understand how a folder-based file system is not a hierarchical system. Could you please explain further? – gablin Mar 17 '11 at 21:47

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