The Linux kernel supports many different types of filesystems. In the following, we introduce a few special types of filesystems that play an important role in the internal design of the Linux kernel.
Next, we'll discuss filesystem registration—that is, the basic operation that must be performed, usually during system initialization, before using a filesystem type. Once a filesystem is registered, its specific functions are available to the kernel, so that type of filesystem can be mounted on the system's directory tree.
While network and disk-based filesystems enable the user to handle information stored outside the kernel, special filesystems may provide an easy way for system programs and administrators to manipulate the data structures of the kernel and to implement special features of the operating system. Table 12-8 lists the most common special filesystems used in Linux; for each of them, the table reports its suggested mount point and a short description.
Notice that a few filesystems have no fixed mount point (keyword "any" in the table). These filesystems can be freely mounted and used by the users. Moreover, some other special filesystems do not have a mount point at all (keyword "none" in the table). They are not for user interaction, but the kernel can use them to easily reuse some of the VFS layer code; for instance, we'll see in Chapter 19 that, thanks to the pipefs special filesystem, pipes can be treated in the same way as FIFO ...