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Everything is a Virtual Filesystem: libferris

Ben Martin (monkeyiq@users.sourceforge.net)

This paper is about the libferris virtual filesystem and how modern filesystems and XML technology can interoperate. The most similar projects to libferris are gnome-vfs and kio_slaves. However, the scope of libferris is extended both in terms of its capability to mount things, its indexing and its metadata handling. For example, among its 'non conventional' data sources, libferris is able to mount XML, db4, relational databases, Evolution, Emacs and Firefox. Metadata is obtained from many sources and appears as Extended Attributes for files, for example, an audio file's ID3 tags appear as metadata similiar to a file's name or size. Support for metadata exists for any virtual filesystem and can be stored in a personal RDF repository.

Recently, support for XQuery on the filesystem has been added. This makes it possible to get information from anything that ferris can mount or its indexes from XQuery. Note that as db4 files are on demand loaded getting at a few keys only requires a few disk accesses in total, making the use of large lookup tables efficient from XQuery with libferris. As PostgreSQL functions can be mounted with libferris access to complex relational data is also exposed for XQuery evaluation.