[tahoe-dev] barriers to using tahoe

Zooko O'Whielacronx zookog at gmail.com
Sat Feb 6 04:46:04 UTC 2010

On Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 8:28 AM, Jody Harris <imhavoc at gmail.com> wrote:

> "Bookmarks? What the heck? You mean I have to bookmark my files to get back
> to them?"
> You use bookmarks because you understand that the system does not offer you
> another way of keeping track of files created through the WUI. As a new
> initiate to Tahoe, I am viewing Tahoe as a file repository. I put something
> in. I come back later to get something out. When I make a deposit in a bank,
> I don't have to keep the transaction number in order to withdraw that money
> later.

So, we could make it so that there is a single distinguished "root"
directory in Tahoe-LAFS for a given user and all the user's operations
normally start from that directory. For example, if we're talking
about a filesystem interface, there could be a "virtual drive" which
looks just like a special mount point e.g. "/tahoe-lafs", and which
has the write-cap to this special root directory. (That's exactly how
the allmydata.com product works on Windows, where it is named "Z:"
unless something else has already made a "Z:" drive in which case it
gets assigned a different drive letter.)

But my next question is: how do you backup the cap to that root
directory? If your hard drive crashes, you're going to want that stuff
back, right? So we can't just let the Tahoe-LAFS install process
create a directory, put its cap into the local system so that the
"/tahoe-lafs" mountpoint will use that cap, and then call it good.

(To stretch the bank analogy, Tahoe-LAFS is a very special type of
bank where you store your stacks of greenbacks and then even if the
bank burns down you can retrieve your stacks of greenbacks from
another bank. But this means you *are* going to have to keep the
transaction number, or how else are people going to know that you
should be allowed to withdraw that money from the other bank? Hm.
Maybe I should have tried stretching the bottle-of-milk analogy

And then my next question is: how do you share some of your files and
directories with some of your friends? But at the same time withhold
others of your files and directories from those friends, as well as
withholding the shared files and directories from other of your

> "You mean I have to TYPE stuff in the DOS window? Oooooo! Yuck!"

Oh I get it, you mean command-line interfaces by definition are
mysterious and arcane. Fine -- I guess that's not a ticket against
Tahoe-LAFS. ;-)

> Users expect a / directory in a filesystem.

I don't yet know how to reconcile this with their expectations of (a)
recovering their files after a disaster and (b) sharing access to
their files and directories with others.

In terms of the allmydata.com Windows product, the answers were: (a)
allmydata.com keeps a copy of your root cap for you (thus giving
allmydata.com the ability to read and alter all of your files, and (b)
you can't.

> I've discovered that I have an awful lot of time since I turned off the
> television.

Yay! I highly approve. If I had a television I would never have any
time to hack on Tahoe-LAFS, read about dietary theories, etc..
Unfortunately they seem to be intent on inventing
television-in-the-web-browser. I need to figure out how to avoid that,
too. I hope they'll thoughtfully use proprietary technologies for it
so that their advertisements and television shows will just appear as
"broken plugin goes here" symbols in my web browser.



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