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24 May 2020


by Julian Maingot

Let this post be a warning for anyone who is thinking about making changes to their system. Diverging from the default settings can have adverse affects with the software you use so generally just don’t do it unless you have a good reason.

I helped a friend upgrade the harddrive on their laptop to an SSD (a great way to extend the life of an old laptop). During the OS re-installation, there was an option to choose case-sensitivity for the partition.

It didn’t not occur to me to click continue without considering the alternate option, this was a mistake.

I thought about the two options and how they would affect my friend’s usage of her laptop. A case-insensitive filesystem didn’t seem to offer any compelling pros although one could consider case-insensitivity a pros for usability purposes.

I didn’t count that fact that case-insensitive was the default option as a pro for choosing case-insensitive, this was another mistake.

I found case-sensitivity more appealing because it seemed safer and I like safety. If my friend was a using a drive that was previously case-insensitive and the new drive was case-sensitive, there wouldn’t be a problem migrating the files because there was no chance of name collisions. Similarly, if she previously used a case-sensitive filesystem then there wouldn’t be any transition at all.

I didn’t consider checking the case-sensitivity setting on the old drive, that was another mistake. I would have seen that it was case-insensitive and simply stuck with the same setting.

There were many ways I could have avoided making a bad choice here but I ended up choosing case-sensitive and had to pay the price.

Software developers develop for the average system setup, not the special snowflake. Don’t turn a system into a special snowflake unless it’s your own system and you like messing around with your tools.