View Full Version : Common hardrive format between Linux and Windows

03 March 2003, 12:57 AM
I'm preparing to setup my first Linux system and I was wondering if there is a hardrive format that both Windows and Linux will recognize. Can Linux read NTFS? Can I Make an NTFS partition to install Linux on?

03 March 2003, 01:09 AM
I'm not a linux guru but it has to be FAT32. It can read NTFS in some configurations but it can't reliably write to it. If you search this forum there was a discussion on that with more details.

03 March 2003, 02:53 AM
i would suggest very strongly you do not install linux on anything but ext2fs or ext3fs.

your best bet is to have three partitions: one ext3fs for linux install, one NTFS for windows install and one fat32 drive as dvornik suggested as a shared location for files.

fat is a horrible file system that is notoriously unstable and prone to faults. for working files that you would regularly back up (and you all back up regularly, don't you?) it's no problem. but as a file system for an OS to live on, i certainly wouldn't use it.

03 March 2003, 02:59 AM
What's the difference between ext2fs and ext3fs? Will Linux read XFS drives like those formatted by an SGI? Would it be okay to use a single FAT32 partition for the swap space for linux and windows?

03 March 2003, 06:04 AM
no, you couldn't use the same partition for swap in linux/windows because linux actually formats a whole parition for swap, where windows uses a swap file (as opposed to a whole partition). you really should try to share as little as possible between the two OSes in terms of disk space.

ext3 is just ext2 with extra journalling bytes for added data reliability. all 2.4 kernels and up support ext3, and its a good idea to use it on any modern-day machine. unless you are running 486 o rembedded hardware, the overhead isn't noticable.

again, most 2.4 kernel systems will read XFS. people have posted both good and bad things about experiences with XFS (much like reiserFS). again, i strongly recommend ext3fs for its compatability and wide range of use.

03 March 2003, 06:48 AM
You can download the files to convert ext3 into XFS from SGI, but its only for Red Hat 7.3..

Linux will require at least 3 partitions for install, Boot, Swap, and Root. Windows cannot access linux filesystems, but Linux can read and write Fat32 like it was another drive. You just have to tell it where to mount it. NTFS you can mount and access, but you can't write to. Writing to it without windows knowing will destroy the file table and hose it when windows boots and cant find stuff where it left it. All 2.4 kernal releses besides Red Hats can read-only NTFS partitions. RedHat 8.0+ will require you to track down the files to add to your kernel. I have the link somewhere..

Once stuffs mounted, its all good. I never had issues.

03 March 2003, 09:52 AM
sieb is almost right... just some minor corrections:

1) the /boot and / (root) mounts can exist on the same partition in linux without much hassle. the minimum amount of partitions you need for linux is 1 (everything under / and no swap), but 2 is the recommended bare minimum for root and swap. some older systems recommed /boot exists in the first 100MB of the drive on its own partition, but these days it's not necessary with modern motherboards and harddisks.

2) you can write to NTFS partitions through linux, but the code is still very immature and can cause problems on certain setups. this feature is recommended for bug-testers only, or people who have windows partitions they don't really care about. it won't "guarantee" destruction of your NTFS partitions, but it is possible. you wouldn't stand under a metal pole in a thunderstorm, and the same is recommended about writing to NTFS. chances are slim, but you don't want to be the fool who finds out the hard way. :)

3) redhat can read NTFS partitions. all you need to do is recompile your kernel. the kernel source and default config for kernel compilation comes with all versions of redhat, and the steps are quite simple. check the README under your /usr/src/linux directories. if you want an up-to-date kernel, visit . remember to reinstall/remake any add-in modules after your compile (eg: nvidia and ATI drivers need to be re-done).

03 March 2003, 10:50 PM
I set up my dual boot as follows:
NTFS partition for Windows System/Application files
Linux partitions (swap, boot, home, XFS (I like XFS, don't care for ext3 (it's a hack for crying out loud), and reiser is still too beta. XFS is a commercial quality journaling FS with millions of dollars of testing/development behind it, use it! :) )
FAT32 partition for data-transfers. I usually put my kazaa/mp3 shares there for easy access from linux.

03 March 2003, 11:40 PM
SGIs XFS also supports a scalable 9 Exobyte filesystem.. (given a correct setup)

"Yep, been formatting for two months now, only 2 Exobytes into it.. "

03 March 2003, 12:10 AM
Originally posted by PlanetMongo
(I like XFS, don't care for ext3 (it's a hack for crying out loud), and reiser is still too beta. XFS is a commercial quality journaling FS with millions of dollars of testing/development behind it, use it! :)
i don't judge a piece of software by how many millions worth of development go into it. i judge it by how many people actively use it, and do so on high-end, large scale systems being accessed by millions of users.

ext3fs certainly didn't have the cash thrown at it that XFS did, but it's far more than "just a hack". for many people it's just as usable as XFS, and indeed may people trust it for some very high end and expensive applications.

and btw, no i'm not knocking XFS. :)

03 March 2003, 08:03 PM
WEll, in that case: XFS is SGI's high-end journalling filesystem that's been ported to Linux. Keep that in mind. Thousands of commercial, high-volume customers have beat on this filesystem for, what, a decade or more? These are customers who are using the filesystem for the kind of use people on this board would be using it for : large multimedia files, etc. Ext3 is a hack, albeit a somewhat clever one, designed to remain backwards compatible with ext2. I don't like ext2, I certainly don't like ext3 (I'd rather use reiser if it came down to it). It's hard to go from the BeFS to a non-journalled filesystem and ext2 left enough of a bad taste in my mouth to not even bother considering ext3. In the end, it's similar to the "I don't like GNOME because I think the interface API is kludgy and prefer the cleanness of Cocoa (OS X) or even QT (KDE)." It's just a personal preference.
:: shrug ::

03 March 2003, 11:10 PM
(not trying to get to far off topic here but...) i've never really played with BeFS much, but i hear it's superb for sorting and finding information with all of it's meta-info attached to the flie. from what i hear it's quite quick too.

i wouldn't mind getting my hand on a copy of BeOS just for a play around. is there anywhere that still sells it in useable form? (and not that horrible "use it from inside windows" version).

03 March 2003, 12:03 AM
BeOS 5 here (
Personal Edition.
Hunt around on the intarweb and you might can come across the patched up version (DANO?) with BONE and some other niceties. I'm not sure if nVidia support was ever added, so be prepared to do it in B&W if you have a GeForce.. :P

03 March 2003, 03:17 AM
Wow BeOS.. I haven't gave them much thought in the last 5 years! Isn't that a pretty much dead platform or does it still have a cultish following?

03 March 2003, 01:11 PM
NTFS.... Linux can read it but can't read it... look at the other posts about this...

FAT32... This is your lowest common denominator....

EXT2.... obsolete don't bother with.

EXT3.... I find XFS & ReiserFS better.

XFS.... This file sytem will give you the best perfomance for large files -- also some of the features that BeFS did -- check out this link

REISERFS... best performance for lots of small files.
I have been using this for over a year and it hasn't caused me problems...

Here is the setup I would reccomend...

Windows system: NTFS mount under /mnt/win/sys/
At least one Fat32 partition to keep files on mounted under /mnt/win/documents/
/boot as anything but XFS if you have more than 2 Hd controllers you don't need to enable them at boot if you put this partition on one of the first two controllers.
/ the root file sytem - I would probably use ReiserFS
/usr as a seperate partition - ReiserFS or XFS.
/home - as a seperate partition - you won't need to loose your personal settings if you switch distros, upgrade, reinstall -etc.
Leaning towards XFS...

Maybe another XFS partition -either local or on a server for project management.... I will get to that later.

03 March 2003, 03:56 PM
Originally posted by gmask
Wow BeOS.. I haven't gave them much thought in the last 5 years! Isn't that a pretty much dead platform or does it still have a cultish following?

Cultish following, ala Amiga. Lots of smaller apps still actively developed, but as far as I'm concerned, "It's dead, Jim." I invested a lot of time and money in the platform, was the president of the local BUG (only member, too). :: sigh ::

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