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[Official announcement] Supporting larger microSD cards in the Jolla Tablet - Your input is needed!

asked 2014-12-03 15:15:42 +0300

eric gravatar image

updated 2014-12-05 22:21:43 +0300

pulsar gravatar image

Dear Jolla Community,

After introducing the stretch goals to the Jolla Tablet's Indiegogo campaign last week, there’s been some lively community discussion about the microSD stretch goal, i.e. supporting memory cards up to 128GB when/if the campaign hits 1.5M USD.

We want to assure you that your voice is heard!
For those of you who really seek to have an option, we ask for your input at the end of this post. Otherwise we feel that we owe a bit of explaining to you on the matter – so let’s start from the basics.

Note: This post is largely based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital so you can verify our claims yourself through there.

Have you ever noticed that in many product specifications, the SD card slot seems to only support cards with less than 32GB capacity? Especially since those particular devices ought to be capable of supporting them, since 32+GB cards were introduced already in 2009?

You may know this already, but SD stands for SecureDigital and it is an industry standard. SDHC is the variant of this standard supporting cards from 2GB to 32GB. These cards are shipped pre-formatted with the FAT32 file system. The SD association (SDA) uses several trademarked logos to enforce compliance with its specifications and to assure users of compatibility. Compatiblity means that when they plug in a SD card to the device, it'll just work right away. In 2009, SDA announced a new standard, SDXC, that enabled SD card sizes of 32GB to 2 TB cards. But along with that standard, they mandated the use of Microsoft's exFAT file system. Like in SDHC, this then means that the cards are shipped preformatted with exFAT.

It is very likely that the hardware in the Jolla Tablet is capable of supporting cards of higher size than 32GB. But that doesn't automatically make it "SDXC". Because of that trademark, even using the term "SD" requires that you are compatible. And the SD logo also assures users of compatibly. So, this means we need to support exFAT as a file system.

Here's the catch though.

SDXC cards are pre-formatted with Microsoft's proprietary exFAT file system. Microsoft does not publish the specifications of exFAT and using it requires the purchase of a license. This leads to many alternative or older operating systems not supporting exFAT, even if they support the SDXC card reader hardware. This also means that SDXC cards using exFAT are not universal exchange medium to all SDXC host devices. This is why we have added this as a stretch goal. Yes, it requires the purchase of licenses to support exFAT and through that, Jolla tablet can claim SDXC compatibility. Simply put, this is a compability expected by consumers, especially for a tablet which is principally a media consumption device. You can't do tricks or workarounds like re-format with another filesystem on device. It has to work the moment you insert the SD card.

The suggestion comes here:

We understand that many of you would not want to support a proprietary file system for good reasons. So here's a suggestion especially for you:
We have put up a specific poll here on TJC about better supporting open source file systems on microSD cards in Sailfish OS.
This is mainly for taking in suggestions from you on what we should practically do here. We don't claim to know all the answers so this is an opportunity for you to tell us what we lack or should do differently. As examples these can include formatting options for open file systems or encrypted microSD card (LUKS).
What this practically means: we want you to tell us which type of alternative open solutions we should include in the Jolla Tablet.
Together in the Community you can also figure out what needs the most work within Sailfish OS in this specific field.

Jolla Tablet Team

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To me interoperability with the rest of the world is important - I want to see my digital camera pictures/videos on a larger screen while on the go, for example.

vode ( 2014-12-03 16:02:45 +0300 )edit

Q about the licence: Would SD card with 32Gb fat partition and 96Gb open file system partition comply with SDHC standard?

simo ( 2014-12-03 16:13:50 +0300 )edit

@simo... Lol, great idea... If that would work...

dac ( 2014-12-03 16:15:16 +0300 )edit

For me, I use at the moment an ext4 formated 64GB card which should be there till I will by my 128GB card. Encryption with LUKS would be awesome. To point it a litte bit more clear out I see the card slot as an internally memory extension slot. For me it could also name it TF-slot like in a lot off Chinese devices is labeled. I never use this kind of card to exchange data.

DiosDelRayo ( 2014-12-03 16:22:26 +0300 )edit

why would have put micro sd cards??.. just increase the size of the internal memory ..

Ghost ( 2014-12-03 16:26:52 +0300 )edit

6 Answers

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answered 2014-12-04 13:45:04 +0300

DiosDelRayo gravatar image

I'm disappointed about this exFAT microSDXC stuff will be added. Even I support Jolla because a suggested promise of open source which they in my eyes still not deliver, I perked a tablet.As the stretch goal was set I was shocked and thought WTF? I'm still think it's not the right way, but also I think Jolla is now in a trap, whatever they will do now, somebody will be pissed off. People will be pissed of if the pay for the license and people will be pissed off if not. So I can understand them in this situation right now - not before as they made the decision. For me, I'm tired of this discussion and I think it's done, it's over. Let it be. I think Jolla will the next time think about it earlier and will communicate sooner what they pretend to do before they do - at least that is my hope. I planned to perk a second tablet, but after that I was not more motivated to do so. But because of Jolla tried at least to fix the issue - even it looks impossible I perked a cover.

PS: I was thinking about if I had perked the tablet with the stretch goal before my perk, and surprisingly the answer was yes to me. Of course in a perfect world the answer should be "no", but we are not living in a perfect world, so we accept us as we are not perfect, we accept our friend as they neither perfect, and I think we should also accept Jolla as they are not perfect just like friends. I personally still have the hope that Jolla opens they way to really open device, that all is just a beginning. I hope that people also will learn to support, support financial and with personal afford companies the make there money with open source. Exactly that is the reason why I bought a Jolla, instead of an Galaxy Nexus to install SailfishOS on it. This is also the reason why I will but my time in projects around SailfishOS, and I hope one day a company don't need to fear people will no more purchase their products because they opened the sources completely. And don't buy from cheaper competitors which only use their sources. So, sail on, and while I have still the feeling that the open source wind is blowing inside the small Jolla, I will continue buy there products, because everybody wants to eat something :)

I wish everybody a very nice and successfully day!

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Mmm, like your part about "friend" and not perfect. So if I understand the comparison well I am paying my friend a gram of cocain so he /she can look cool at a party and maybe find the love of his / her life?

The whole SDXC looks a little bit like a scam from MS. Check this link: do not format your card, repeat do not format whatever happens... https://www.sdcard.org/consumers/sdxc_capabilities/using_sdxc/

vandersmash ( 2014-12-04 14:00:39 +0300 )edit

It is very smart answer DiosDelRayo ... even if there is no solution :)

tuniek ( 2014-12-04 14:08:48 +0300 )edit

Jolla cannot and should not deliver a crippled product. All the FOSS fundamentalists that get pissed by this -and other stuff- have zero understanding of the market (which is NOT them) and its needs. Its easy to see that any successful open source project (ie firefox) targets the market and not RMS wannabes.

ApB ( 2014-12-04 14:20:55 +0300 )edit

@ApB - You are a perfect example of DiosDelRayo's reasoning. "People will be pissed of if the pay for the license and people will be pissed off if not."

There are plenty of other devices out their that comply to "general market demand" without need for Jolla to add yet another. For what a crippled product concerns: I think there is plenty of headroom for Jolla to improve the Sailfish OS user experience and make smart , future proof hardware choices (enable the FMtx this time) both in terms of own hardware and partnerships.

I have supported this tablet campaign assuming that also this time I would only get an "expandable memory card slot" or only SDHC slot, if they must, that works with any SD card of any current size -if formatted correctly- instead of an SDXC card slot that also works with exFat pre-formatted cards, as proudly advertised by an SDXC logo on device or through the manual. It would in fact be the first time that I have a likewise product from Europe that supports this latest standard upfront, while in fact Jolla was the last company to be expected to do so.

I can think about many other reasons to call the product crippled but having to format an SD card is the least of them. Inserted card not formatted: do you want to format and make it available to Sailfish applications? Warnings etc.. case closed and let's play. Likewise I can think about many reasons to call all "market accepted, exFat SDXC compatible" devices crippled for their user dated user interface, need to jailbreak or root to install software, push for 3rd party cloud usage, need for proprietary software for simple file transfer etc...

Rest assured that behind the curtains, the closed source fundamentalists are working tirelessly to assure that your 256GB or 512GB Micro SD card needs a completely different slot, different software license that that this time it WON'T work in that good old SDXC phone whatever you alternative file system you format it to. So that you feel left behind with the old standard and limited memory. That is why not supporting this "market standard" would be a good signal that we are supporting a company that cares for its customers.

vandersmash ( 2014-12-04 15:22:32 +0300 )edit

People that will be pissed with jolla including exFAT are probably ones that dont care about jolla becoming successful to a wide audience. (and i am damn sure if they (jolla) succeed it will be beneficial for more open projects) They are driven by blind ideology and think that the worlds revolves around them and their small vocal minority and their usecases. Guess what. My mom won't do stuff in the command line or write scripts for her devices. She will want to attach her camera card and see the damn pics on the tablet. And thats not only my mom. Is the thousand other people that might buy a jolla. Customers.

ApB ( 2014-12-04 16:09:30 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-01-31 03:58:26 +0300

Hariainm gravatar image

The freedom of choice is always the key. So let the consumers choose. Like with the phone, with the Android compatibility layer, put "128Gb+ card support" as optional download in the store. You promise SDXC compatibility? Ok, provide it. You are a true FOSS paladin and/or don't want to kiss Microsoft ass? Then don't install it. I think it can't be simpler than that. (or maybe I am missing something)

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In my opinion this is a great idea. In my case it is sufficient if the card-slot would provide 128GB support with e.g. btrfs. It do not need exfat support.

But i think jolla should provide exfat support for people that are not technically skilled and need exfat support for simpler use. This help the community to get more users and let the community grow. For those people there should be the possibility to buy an exfat license using the jolla store and download a driver-package for personal use. In this case I don't know how jolla can manage the licenses, but i think this option should be valid.

xneo ( 2015-01-31 15:31:00 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-12-10 17:30:20 +0300

ziplepingouin gravatar image

Including this sdxc card support is a good thing, just I would have put it as less important than split screen and 3g, but now if it can use open format too then even better,... Good work with the tablet Jolla! Looking forward to it!

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It'd go against wish of the big part of the community. "Don't do that" [1] is the most voted tablet topic on TJC, to which Jolla answered "we hear you loud and clear", so I hope they won't do that. [1] https://together.jolla.com/question/67122/request-please-dont-use-crowdfunded-money-to-pay-for-extra-patent-licenses/

mihlit ( 2014-12-10 17:36:22 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-12-16 12:31:14 +0300

benfindlay96 gravatar image

fair enough that they are going to annoy someone no matter what they do, but really it was brought upon themselves by stating the stretch goals rather than setting up a voting system. if they got the community to vote on the stretch goals, I think that less people would be annoyed, because I don't know about you but none of them appealed to me in the slightest!

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answered 2015-01-31 15:56:24 +0300

cemoi71 gravatar image

did someone give a look on it?:
exfat google code
Samsung Properly Open-Sources exFAT File-System

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answered 2014-12-16 18:28:25 +0300

talmage gravatar image

Why can't we just use MTP? That makes the file system irrelevant. Sailfish OS can then support exFAT and any other detectable file system a person might put on an SDXC card. Then the SDXC card becomes plug-and-play on the hardware of my choosing. I get to decide. I like that kind of freedom.

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that is a silly comment. you should read the wikipedia link you provided.

XiliX ( 2015-01-03 11:18:43 +0300 )edit

Hi, XiliX. Thanks for your comment. I don't understand why you think my comment is silly. Would you mind explaining, please?

I read the wikipedia link that I provided before I provided it. MTP turns a device into a transactional file system. There isn't anything in the article that suggests that the underlying file system can't be one of my choosing. I looked at the protocol specification and there doesn't seem to be any requirement to implement on top of a particular file system.

For most people, the consequence of using MTP without exFAT is that you have to plug the tablet into another computer in order to transfer files to it. That's not so bad.

talmage ( 2015-01-03 20:11:04 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2014-12-03 15:15:42 +0300

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Last updated: Jan 31 '15