Playing with MacFUSE

In the podcast from the 21st I talked about Amit Singh’s port of FUSE a nifty user space utility originally developed for Linux. Brian pointed out my omission of a link for a related project, Secure Remote Disk, a Cocoa front end for working with sshfs.

I’ve now had a chance to play with both, as well as trying out SpotlightFS which appears to be the first Mac specific filesystem for MacFUSE.

I’ve wanted to use sshfs since I first read about it in LinuxJournal some time back. It definitely lives up to my expectations, althought both GUI front ends fall short. SRD does not allow specifying a remote directory, as far as I can tell. I may be missing something. sshfs, offered from the MacFUSE project pages does allow this option but does not allow me to specify my own mount point. Again, I may be missing something, but for now, the command line it is.

Not that this turns out to be a major draw back. I have successfully suspended my PowerBook a few times with an sshfs volume mounted and have not had a lick of trouble. This being the case, I can well imagine a .command file to run at login to just go ahead and make the connection for me, pretty much eliminating the need to manually mount the remote systems I use most frequently. For ad hoc access, I suppose SRD is a bit more useable given the limitations.

Yesterday, the MacFUSE project released its first Mac specific filesystem, SpotlightFS. This looks very promising, in the words of the author

SpotlightFS is a MacFUSE file system that creates true smart folders, where the folders’ contents are dynamically generated by querying Spotlight. This differs from Finder’s version of smart folders, which are really plist files with a “.savedSearch” file extension. Since SpotlightFS smart folders are true folders, they can be used from anywhere—including the command line!

Sadly, I have yet to get this to work, as much as I would like to. I have entered a ticket for my troubles and am guess this just didn’t get enough testing before he posted it. It seems to be looking for my mount command in the wrong place, at least going by the error in my console.log. I have picked over the contents of the SpotlightFS.app bundle but haven’t found anything promising. Hopefully remedying this is a conf file edit or a symlink away. I’ll update as I make progress with this filesystem.

Overall, though, I was impressed by the ease of installation and stability of MacFUSE. Given that it is only a little more than a week old, I anticipated lots more front ends, filesystems, and useful apps to come building on top of it, both ports from Linux and BSD and uniquely Mac apps, like SpotlightFS.

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2 Replies to “Playing with MacFUSE”

  1. Boy, I’m just getting into Mac OS X from Windows, and I found MacFUSE to be extremely unstable. I lost some work because of it. I guess it’s YMMV. The Windows tool I use is rock solid, by comparison 🙂

  2. It has been a while since I used it. It is under active development so it doesn’t surprise me that it may periodically go through stability issues.

    Which file system were you using? The thing to bear in mind is that FUSE is a framework, so the stability may not have been with the port, MacFUSE, but a particular file system plugged into it.

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