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Thread: What do resource forks do on modern OS/X?

  1. #1
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    Default What do resource forks do on modern OS/X?

    I am endlessly irritated when I stick a FAT32 USB stick in my Mac and it fills them up with .DS_Store and other hidden crap, or when I transfer stuff to Windows or Linux & all the junk files go with it. As far as I can tell, Finder adds these, not the OS itself.

    These files get mercilessly deleted off everything except the Mac's physical HDD. I've never had any issues with doing so. As far as I can tell the only noticeable effect of that is wiping out Finder's image thumbnail cache.

    I know they were an integral part of how OS9(-) operated, but does OS/X even use the forks in any way? Are they an actual part of the file system or is the OS just "faking it" with hidden files?

  2. #2

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    As far as I know they're almost completely unused by OSX software - IIRC, NEXTSTEP didn't even have a forked filesystem, it just used the BSD FFS, so by the time it turned into "Mac" OS X, the precedent had already been established, and HFS+ was really only adopted for compatibility purposes with classic Mac OS software.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by xjas View Post
    but does OS/X even use the forks in any way?
    Yes, to store icon thumbnails, labels, comments you might put on the file in the Info box, and other sorts of file metadata. They would have been used more directly by applications in the Carbon days. Not so much anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by xjas View Post
    Are they an actual part of the file system or is the OS just "faking it" with hidden files?
    They are an actual part of HFS+. The "faked hidden files" are an artifact of how they are exposed through the BSD subsystem. Since about 10.3 or 10.4, pretty much all the unix utilities included with OS X (tar, pax, etc.) can correctly cope with them in this way. Unix macbinary, binhex, and appledouble encode/decode utilities were also included at least through 10.6.

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