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I am currently reading reading Chapter 11 of Operating Systems: Principles & Practice by Anderson and Dahlin, which speaks about file systems as abstractions for non-volatile storage.

The distinction between files and directories is first made. Afterwards, in examining what files are, a distinction between file data (i.e., contents of file) and file metadata (i.e., name of file, modification times, permissions, etc.,) is made. My confusion comes when they are speaking about file data. Here is a quote:

A file’s data can be whatever information a user or application puts in it. From the point of view of the file system, a file’s data is just an array of untyped bytes. Applications can use these bytes to store whatever information they want in whatever format they choose.

What do they mean by untyped bytes?

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  • $\begingroup$ (No interpretation assumed of given. Opaque.) $\endgroup$
    – greybeard
    Jan 7, 2023 at 9:55

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They mean that the data is an array of bytes, nothing more. It does not come with any type information to indicate how the data should be interpreted. It is up to applications to figure out how to interpret the data.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ahhh. That makes sense. Thanks $\endgroup$ Jan 7, 2023 at 3:46
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Bytes can be signed or unsigned, be considered numbers or characters, that's about the only typing information you can attach to them. The text means that the bytes are just eight bits, regardless any interpretation.

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