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I was under the impression that it was like trying to read a fat32 disk from linux.
It is like trying to read a fat32 disk from Linux. Linux supports many different file system formats. Your whole system does not have to use the same file system type. Each partition can be a different file system type from the others.
So, you can set up your / partition as an ext3 file system. Then other partitions can be any other file system type that you want, including reiserfs or fat32.
One clarification to what has been said: fat filesystems do not support the permission and ownership attributes common to unix filesystems, so they are not useful for some things. But you can read and write to them just fine (after mounting them, of course).
There is no such thing as an ext3 computer.ext3 is a filesystem format. I could set up my computer with /home as a reiserfs format, /var as jfs, root as ext3 (all on seperate partitions), and it would be fine. You will be able to read an external harddrive which is formatted with any filesystem supported by linux, and that certainly includes reiserfs, vfat, ntfs, ext2, ext3, jfs, xfs, etc.