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Microsoft Sticks With Controversial 'GVFS' Name Despite Backlash (medium.com) 203

New submitter DuroSoft writes: It has been over a year since Microsoft unveiled its open source GVFS (Git Virtual File System) project, designed to make terabyte-scale repositories, like it's own 270GB Windows source code, manageable using Git. The problem is that the GNOME project already has a virtual file system by the name of GVfs that has been in use for years, with hundreds of threads on Stack Overflow, etc. Yet Microsoft's GVFS has already surpassed GVfs in Google and is causing confusion. To make matters worse, Microsoft has officially refused to change the name, despite a large public backlash on GitHub and social media, and despite pull requests providing scripts that can change the name to anything Microsoft wants. Is this mere arrogance on Microsoft's part, laziness to do a quick Google search before using a name, or is it something more sinister?
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Microsoft Sticks With Controversial 'GVFS' Name Despite Backlash

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  • We don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rastos1 ( 601318 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:24PM (#56721104)
    We don't care. We don't have to. We are Microsoft.
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:41PM (#56721166)

      Change the name of Git's GVFS to Microsoft Virtual File System. See how long it takes for microsoft to change their tune. Then after they sue change the name to MSVFS. Where MS stands for Mother Suckers. Let the lawyers make the argument that Mother Suckers could be confused with MicroSoft.

      • Change the name of Git's GVFS to Microsoft Virtual File System. See how long it takes for microsoft to change their tune. Then after they sue change the name to MSVFS.

        That acronym is too long. Shorten the name to Microsoft Virtual System with the acronym MVS. MVS is surely not taken already.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Change GVFS to GOD (GNOME Object Drive). He surely wouldn't mind and there should be fewer search conflicts on stack overflow.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @04:08PM (#56721254)

        No, change it to Not Their File System.

      • That would not work because "Microsoft" is trademarked. HOWEVER, naming it something like "Marvelous Software Virtual File System" generally referred to as MS VFS would do the trick.
      • "Change the name of Git's GVFS to Microsoft Virtual File System"

        Git does not have a GVFS to change the name of.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        Does Gvfs stand for Git VFS or Gnome VFS? Because I’d bet on the latter. MS named it GVFS because that’s what it is. The Gnome fans should pillory Linus for naming Git with a name starting with G.

      • I too get rid of hornets nests by going outside and hitting them with a big stick.

    • They might not care, but time will tell if they "had to" or not.

      At a minimum this makes it controversial to even talk about their technology using their own words for it, that certainly harms their marketing regardless of if they're successful with it in the end.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        What the fuck are you talking about? There’s nothing controversial about their name. Before this article, I had never heard of Gvfs, and I bet there are still millions of Git users who haven’t. I doubt that most GNOME usere would be able to tell you what it is.

        • Git is not commonly associated with Microsoft. Talking about Git Virtual File System does not sound like you're referring to a Microsoft product.
          • Talking about Git Virtual File System does not sound like you're referring to a Microsoft product.

            git /it/
            noun | BRITISH | informal
            an unpleasant or contemptible person.

            I think it fits perfectly.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We don't care. We don't have to. We are Microsoft.

      But "Microsoft has changed". As we keep hearing.

      Which is bullshit. Currently Microsoft, as a whole company, is in the Embrace phase with the Linux/Git crew. Ubuntu are going to get eaten alive, chewed up and spat out in little pieces.

      The only people who have ever survived cooperating with Microsoft are those like Oracle who always assume that cooperation is a form of preparation for war.

      • The only people who have ever survived cooperating with Microsoft are those like Oracle who always assume that cooperation is a form of preparation for war.

        I call this the "Microsoft kiss of death" effect. Particularly unfortunate victims include Palm and Nokia.

    • Re: We don't care (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't work there anymore, but having spent over a decade on the team that produced this all I can do is shake my head at all these crazy comments. BHarry's group is one of the most customer focused teams at the company and has a rampant following in the community. We fought a number of battles against the "old guard" to get features like a web client and java/*nix clients for TFS.

      Naming things is hard - there are only so many 3-5 letter acronyms that can be made from sensical words, especially when term

    • We used to say that about the old AT&T.

  • They only hear what other people in the boardroom say. This produces only positive feedback, which feels good, but it positive feedback is the same thing that produces an anguished scream when the microphone gets too close to the speaker (:-))
  • by ChodaBoyUSA ( 2532764 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:27PM (#56721122)
    My money is on this being something sinister. Microsoft has a long history of this.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Like with the term DNS that they tried to steal. Bill Gates himself said it stood for "digital nervous system," and that he would destroy anyone who used the term to mean what it really means. Also, he took out thousands of magazine ads to push this lie. For weeks, Newsweek had two page color ads with this lie from Gates.

    • Microsoft has a long history of this.

      Really? What are some examples? And if this is sinister, what benefit would there for Microsoft be considering that they are not competing products?

      • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @05:01PM (#56721456)

        Personally I think Micosoft hit 'peak evil' in the 2000s. The company at that point was aggressive in fighting against not just specific open source software, but the movement as a whole. This is the era when Ballmer described open source software as 'cancer.'

        One of the more aggressive things I saw from them back then was the "identified software" clause in the license for supporting Windows media technologies. It specified that any software developed under that license may not be published in source code form, as you might imagine, but it went a lot further than that - it forbade the developer from using any software with source code openly available during the development process of their software, or using libraries with published source. It even forbade them from allowing their software to be distributed on the same physical media - if you made your software open source, you couldn't even allow it to be shared on a PC magazine cover disc in case there was something open source on there. It also stated that, if your software supports windows media, it may save *only* in Windows media: Once a movie goes into WMV format, there was supposed to be no way out of it.

        One notable piece of software ignored the license conditions by reverse-engineering the container format, thus never needing to look at the specification which was only available by agreeing to this super-restrictive licence. Virtualdub. In response threatened legal action, which is why versions after 1.3C dropped support for opening ASF files and instead display a message explaining why.

        They haven't done anything quite so blatantly aggressive in more recent years, but there are more subtle actions they still take. They lag behind in support for open standards - they were the last major browser developer to support transparent PNG, and still do not support APNG, and were the last browser developer to support VP8, Vorbis or Opus codecs - doubtless because these are direct competitors to Microsoft's favoured h264 and AAC codecs, both of which feature Microsoft in the patent pool.

        Windows likewise is very restrictive in filesystem support - when it became apparent that the FAT32 format was ageing, Microsoft invented their own replacement, ExFAT, rather than support any of the several viable open-standard options. A filesystem upon which Microsoft holds patents, and the licence for which specifically forbids the publishing of source code. As a result of this, most Linux distributions are unable to read ExFAT formatted media - which means many USB sticks and SD cards - out of the box, and require the installation of dubiously-legal FUSE modules developed by people in countries where software patents are not recognised.

        So while microsoft may not be as aggressive as they once were, I think it's safe to say that there are still many at the company who regard open source software as a threat that must be suppressed.

        • by epine ( 68316 )

          Nice post.

          It's true that Microsoft hit peak evil long ago, it's just that I'm still far from reaching peak forgiveness, so the GitHub news makes my stomach grind.

          The best you can say is that recent Microsoft has acquired a pragmatism of old age — if pretty much at gunpoint. It was either change or stand pat, as four other corporate megaliths zoomed past. I will probably never fully eclipse my worry that reluctant pragmatism makes for a fickle creed.

          Back in the day, with utmost reluctance, I paid for s

          • by rsborg ( 111459 )

            Amazingly well put.

            Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, and IMHO needs to earn it's keep in society's good graces.

    • by Jack9 ( 11421 )

      I believe Github will only deploy to GVFS sometime after acquisition. This is one of the more obvious plans.

    • The bad guy in this is Wim Coekaerts, supposedly a veteran of the Linux community, but obviously a poser without a clue. Should be no surprise, to be honest. Matthew Wilcox should also have known better.

    • My money is on this being something sinister. Microsoft has a long history of this.

      Sinister? Like just pick an obvious acronym that was unprotected by trademarks? There's a reason trademarks and the like exist. Being open source doesn't protect you from having to register them.

      Microsoft doesn't give a shit. If you didn't trademark it, you don't have the power to make them give a shit. Nothing sinister needs to go on. Some people are just douchebags.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      As they bought Git, you where right.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:28PM (#56721126) Homepage

    Both names are reasonable acronyms. I don't think there's anything malicious, just the normal problem when two entities pick entirely reasonable names and the acronyms collide. It'll work itself out like it always does: people will modify one or both acronyms to clear it up and MS and the Gnome project will live with it.

    • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:35PM (#56721148)

      "Not malicious", uh huh sure sure. Like Office Open XML when their direct competitor had Open Office XML.

      • It's called "Open Document Format for Office Applications", not "Open Office XML".

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        • It's called "Open Document Format for Office Applications", not "Open Office XML".

          Nope, these formats are very similar, but not the same. OpenDocument [wikipedia.org] is based on Open Office XML [wikipedia.org]. The latter is merely a newer version of StarOffice's format, backwards compatible and even shares its file extensions (.sxw, .sxc, ...), the former went through lots of public feedback and did not keep old baggage.

    • by lhunath ( 1280798 ) <lhunath@@@lyndir...com> on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:51PM (#56721196) Homepage

      You trivialize name disputes. If the significance of a name conflict were as shoulder-shrug as you aim to convey there would be absolutely no existential reason for or value in trademarks.

      The reality however is a little more complicated and requires us to admit that names are significant and we should not just shrug them off.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's more like a hash collision. Acronyms are digests of the full name, a shorter but not necessarily unique identifier.

        Collisions are not unexpected. Most acronyms have multiple meanings. It's unfortunate that these two are so similar but even that isn't uncommon.

        • You merely repeat the same mistake, seemingly as though you completely missed the point of the comment to which you replied. Or did I miss a counter-point?

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            The point is that while name collisions are not always trivial, as you say, acronyms are a different story.

            Any two word name can be reduced to one of 676 possible acronyms. There are going to be collisions, it's unavoidable unless we decide not to have any more two word names from now on.

            In this case we have a fairly common technology, a virtual filesystem, plus a single character. There are only 26 possibilities. And GVFS was already taken before Gnome got to it anyway, by the Grid Virtual Filesystem (http

            • by lhunath ( 1280798 ) <lhunath@@@lyndir...com> on Sunday June 03, 2018 @06:35PM (#56721906) Homepage

              Well of course. This is nothing unique or specific to acronyms. The same applies to any kind of situation where you would choose to name a certain thing. Names are overloaded all the time. That is obvious and expected.

              The topic here is not, "oh, how odd, two separate objects were referred to by the same token, I never saw that happen before, it is therefore newsworthy!". The topic here is that the fact that two objects are being referred to by the same name in a shared space (the tech world) where one has a strong and settled history and another is a disruptive newcomer is creating a situation whereby honest people are getting confused and mislead, and whereby information is getting lost and distorted.

              The topic here is that names have value in the fact that they aid people in communicating and collaborating on something, and when people intentionally or otherwise disrupt the value of one name by overloading it with their own, showing an utter disregard of the lives and frustrations of the people whom they are fucking with, this is something that we should raise awareness on and discourage as much as possible in the interest of common good.

              This is the legal framework and justification for trademarks. Obviously not every open-source initiative has taken out trademarks on their every collaborative project and every term used within those projects, but just because a legal trademark was not purchased does not mean that the moral reasons for which those trademarks exist are somehow irrelevant for this project.

              Please be a little more mindful before you speak. Your utter disregard for morality by turning a blind eye on people and their lives by simply pretending that the obvious technicalities that we are all fully aware of are the only thing that exists in the world.

              • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

                Who the fuck is getting confused by GVFS vs Gvfs? Morons such as yourself? The tech world abounds with acronym collisions. Deal with it.

                • You merely serve to prove my point by illustrating what disregard for others looks like.

                  Myself personally, I'm not invested, as I use neither technology. I'm merely proposing a moral point of view.

                  It appears that your moral point of view is limited to "if I myself cannot imagine a problem, that must mean all that do are morons. And morons are not deserving of any moral regard". You sir, should thank the world that not everybody thinks the way you do about others, for your own life would be immeasurably h

                • For me it's not even about that, though there are a number of people already complaining on stackoverflow that it's becoming annoying to tell the two apart. It's about the principle of the matter. Microsoft wanted this to fizzle out quietly because they came up with a name, didn't even google it, and now are attempting to silence all discussion regarding the matter because just like old times they are bullies and don't really believe in open source and community driven software. Fuck that. I'd rather see th
              • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                Your utter disregard for morality by turning a blind eye on people and their lives by simply pretending that the obvious technicalities that we are all fully aware of are the only thing that exists in the world.

                Holy crap dude.

            • This would make a lot of sense if the VFS part of both acronyms (aka 75% of the acronym) didn't already stand for the same thing.
        • Gee, "X" at the beginning of a word sounds cool. My new console looks like a box. Let's call it XBOX. Just a harmless hash collision is all.
      • by SLi ( 132609 )

        Any virtual file systems, of which there are many, would be *VFS. While the collision here is unfortunate, I find it hard to blame Microsoft. If you make a VFS and add a single letter in front of it, you cannot claim some kind of ownership on that single letter to the detriment of all other VFS implementations. If Gnome wanted to prevent clashes, it should have picked a more distinguishing name than a single letter + descriptive term of art. More likely, they just wanted to give it a name so they can refer

    • It's just irresponsible that they 1) clearly never Googled it and 2) refused to change the name even though people started complaining about this long, long before it was the center of attention. Now the users of both GVFS and GVfs are going to suffer when they can't find what they are looking for in stackoveflow etc
    • I was under the impression that GVFS had been deprecated for many many years already too. We're talking about 2010 or so.

      Oh wait.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      GnomeVFS was the original project, and got replaced with GVFS, it seems.

  • Microsoft or Gnome? I'm not sure who to hate more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:41PM (#56721168)

    Announcing the GNOME NTfs filesystem: a high performance filesystem tailored for our new HYPer-V virtual container system, part of the new GNOME EX-change server platform.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @07:18PM (#56722058) Homepage Journal

      Hard to see that doing a damned thing unless somehow GNOME's "NTFS" became immensely popular for some reason. The problem here is a dominant organization destroying support for a smaller organization's product by giving it the same name.

      Now, if Google (1) created "NTFS" for Android/ChromeOS, and (2) deliberately modified their search engine (which may or may not have legal issues associated with it) to favor search results referring to the Android/ChromeOS version, then that might work. But GNOME? GNOME doesn't have the market power. That's the problem. GNOME calling something a name already in use by Microsoft would punish GNOME users, not Microsoft.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        Gvfs isn’t a stand-alone product, and whoever named GVFS had probably never heard of it — like 99.999999999% of people on this planet.

      • Because it is so difficult for the technically inclined folks to phrase a proper search string ?

        Gvfs -GIT +Gnome
        or in Google-speak: Gvfs -GIT "Gnome"

        • Google pretty much ignores search strings these days, so sure. Besides, why would you want to prevent searches that include "git" somewhere on the same page from being included in your GNOME GVFS search? It's a common term, I believe (now, correct me if I'm wrong on this) a very popular revision control system, the kind of thing you'd see mentioned on many tech sites, including those that mention issues with GVFS that might involve, well, bugs and stuff.
  • by TekBoy ( 142140 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @03:48PM (#56721184)

    Microsoft sucks at naming things. That's nothing new. These are the people that named their Java like framework ".Net" and named their sql server "Sql Server" making both a pain in the rear to do Internet searches on due to overly generic naming. We're just lucky they didn't name it GIFS.

    • I like some of their named-by-committee products. Or the project had a description, but no name, so they made the description the name when it went to market.

      "Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs"

      "Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP" which they thankfully later called "Windows SteadyState"

    • The .NET thing is pretty funny. They were basically like "OMG people are actually using Windows Messenger and their .NET accounts -- lets apply that branding to EVERYTHING!!!"
  • They wouldn't change the name Windows despite it causing confusion with every other Windowing environment. This is pretty typical MS.

  • Meh (Score:2, Troll)

    by gumpish ( 682245 )

    If the headline was "Open source group harassed by Microsoft" I'd get ready to be mildly upset, but upon learning it was GNOME being harassed I'd quickly switch to being mildly pleased.

  • should be Microshit's new corporate motto and advertising slogan, because when you use their product, that's the message you're most likely to see.

    It's soo infuriating to turn on a laptop in front of a customer and have to wait for the previous cycle of Windows Updates to complete from when I shut it down at the last customer's site where I also had to sit for 15 minutes after the meeting was over waiting for it to shut down while insisting on running updates.

    Don't bother mentioning the ability to turn off

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      There’s nothing illegal going on, so mentioning the DOJ is just demonstrating to the world that you are an absolute moron, and deserve pain for your entire existence.

      • by bigmacx ( 135216 )

        LMFAO angry much? Sheesh. You sir, clearly have Low-T.

        Must have angry posted while looking at the "Don't turn off your computer message"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the asshole project that decided to change the names of various utilities to a general name that indicates their function. For instance, the file manager, Nautilus, is now "Files" The media player, Totem, is now known as "Videos". The disk utility, Palimpsest, is now "Disks". Gnome should just change gvfs to "Ghostfiles".

  • Isn't there a rumor Microsoft is buying GitHub?

    As owners they can change the resource naming as they see fit.  They can rename GitHub's resource, claim they are making a replacement resource or somehow male it look like the projects are merging.

    Seems like a lot of bullshit to go through rather than just changing the name when they first became aware of the conflict, but who says Microsoft is always sensible?
  • "Is this mere arrogance on Microsoft's part, laziness to do a quick Google search before using a name, or is it something more sinister?"

    A corollary of Occam's Razor comes to the rescue:

    There is no need to invoke maliciousness when mere laziness or stupidity suffices to explain the situation.

    It's called Jeffries' Corollary.

    • by Bomazi ( 1875554 )

      You must be new here. The last sentence of a summary is always an inflammatory/controversial question added by an "editor" to generate posts. Unfortunately that's often all people write about, instead of focusing on the actual story.

      In the future, please just ignore that last sentence.

      • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

        Wow. You're _VERY_ new and arrogant.

        Before you make statements like that take a moment to check if you're wrong. You are.

        • No, inflammatory and usually wrong end to summary to inflame /. is par for the course. WTF are you getting on with? Are you secretly msmash?
        • by Bomazi ( 1875554 )

          I have been reading /. for over 15 years, under different user names. I have seen this decline in quality in the last few years, as well as submitters complaining about distortions introduced by "editors". And you didn't pick up on the fact that starting a reply with "You must be new here" is an old /. meme.

  • Cost only a few hundred dollars to register [uspto.gov]. Any project of any reasonable size should be filing them.
    • Trademarks are just a way to muscle smaller entities out like patents. To keep up with trademarks and the legal issues around them you need a team of lawyers.
  • It was just announced that Microsoft has purchased GitHub, so people who don't like the GVFS name can just...git. And by the way, when "something sinister" is one of the multiple choices for guessing Microsoft's agenda, it's always a safe bet.

    https://www.theverge.com/2018/... [theverge.com]

  • More sinister

    "We are the Microsoft , your unique attributes will be added to ours . Resistance is futile "

  • Im wondering if Github has rights to an unregistered trademark vis a vis the Lanham act which has a "prohibition against commercial misrepresentation of source or origins of goods."

  • But because MS does it they must have some evil plan, right?

    In all seriousness though, if their ratings on google and stack overflow already now surpassed the ratings of GVfs, it can't be a really successful project they are pushing out of the market.

  • There is a very fascinating explanation of why Microsoft did it in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6n3pFFPSlW4 [youtube.com]. As much as I want to hate Microsoft, I tend to agree.

"Being against torture ought to be sort of a bipartisan thing." -- Karl Lehenbauer