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we're using smart ftp now, but it doesn't seem to have that function. it would help greatly to know the purpose/function of a specific file without having to open it.
Is there an ftp program that let's you browse files, and lable their purpose in the directory itself?
It turns out that common Linux filesystems already support the storage of arbitrary meta-information about files - referred to "extended attributes", or "xattr".
There isn't a lot of user support for this - the primary use is for storing seLinux access lists.
However, Beagle and Tracker (Linux search applications) support the use of extended attributes.
In Linux, the ext2, ext3, ext4, JFS, ReiserFS and XFS filesystems support extended attributes (abbreviated xattr) if the libattr feature is enabled in the kernel configuration. Any regular file may have a list of extended attributes. Each attribute is denoted by a name and the associated data. The name must be a null-terminated string, and must be prefixed by a namespace identifier and a dot character. Currently, four namespaces exist: user, trusted, security and system. The user namespace has no restrictions with regard to naming or contents. The system namespace is primarily used by the kernel for access control lists. The security namespace is used by SELinux, for example.
Extended attributes are not widely used in user-space programs in Linux, although they are supported in the 2.6 and later versions of the kernel. The Beagle and Tracker search tools, however, do use extended attributes, and freedesktop.org publishes recommendations for their use.
Note that Nautilus (the Gnome file browser) can display Beagle or Tracker metadata if available. Not sure about other file browsers.
Beagle and Tracker are Linux GUI tools, so normally you would need a Linux desktop machine to use them. (I think you can connect to a filesystem remotely, so you could search your web host running on a local Linux desktop. However, Beagle at least (not sure about Tracker) has a web-based interface, as well.
Now, there's still a concern about FTP... Will your FTP program transfer the metadata with the files?
Nautilus also includes a simple "notes" facility accessed through the file "properties" dialog.