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Old 10-01-2007, 07:44 PM   #1
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Which drive format is best?

Hi, I finally got my second drive so I can install linux separate from XP. But, now I don't know what format I want to use. I have looked at ext3, FAT32, NTFS, Reiser, etc. I am getting a little bogged down in the technical details, and would like some firm suggestions. Linux, probably Ubuntu initially, is the only thing going on this drive.

320 Gig
7200 rpm
16 Meg cache

How much of a difference is there between formats? I am concerned with data integrity more than speed, I figure my system is fast enough.

Thank you in advance.
Old 10-01-2007, 08:03 PM   #2
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Please, just answer already.

Hah! Eight of you have viewed this already, somebody tell me at least what you're using personally. Please, two seconds.


Old 10-01-2007, 08:05 PM   #3
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Ext3 should suffice. Although the distro you install will format and partition the drive anyway. Have patience, it's not like we sit here waiting for queries to answer!

Last edited by {BBI}Nexus{BBI}; 10-01-2007 at 08:06 PM.
Old 10-01-2007, 08:11 PM   #4
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Thank you

Sorry, I guess I do sound a little, tiny bit impatient. Thank you very much.
Old 10-01-2007, 09:51 PM   #5
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I've settled on just using Ext3 for everything. It may or may not be as fast as reiser, but I've had to manually fix a reiser so many times it's not even funny. So unless you like being dropped into a command prompt when your filesystem can't be automatically fixed, stick with ext3.
Old 10-01-2007, 09:52 PM   #6
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I use ext3. ext2 was the old generic standard and ext3 is the generic standard of the day. It looks like they're developing ext4, but I know nothing about it. reiserfs and the others are good, but it always seemed to me that you needed to make a commitment to them and their peculiarities. (Note: for the intermediate and advanced users, those peculiarities can make all the difference in the world for the particular things you need Linux for. For the beginner, ext3 needs no fiddling.)

I guess I should caveat, tho, that I use Slackware Linux, not Ubuntu. So my other suggestion would be to take the filesystem that is at the top of the list when you install Ubuntu. At this point, you're really looking for the simplest operating system to manage, not the one that's going to give you the best performance for the particular setup you're looking to use Linux for. If Ubuntu prefers JFS, then JFS would be the one that will end up having the least maintenance issues.

Old 10-01-2007, 10:17 PM   #7
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I use xfs for a drive with large files. Normally I'll just use ext3. Don't use reiserfs on a laptop. For a technical reason, it can interfere with suspending.
Old 10-01-2007, 10:56 PM   #8
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Thanks, everyone, ext3 it is for now. Until I know more about Linux and can manage peculiarities, that is. And I've decided to start with PC Linux OS.

Thanks again.
Old 10-01-2007, 11:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JoseCuervo View Post
Hah! Eight of you have viewed this already, somebody tell me at least what you're using personally. Please, two seconds.


I use ReiserFS for servers, ext3 for desktops and laptops (or anything else prone to getting powered off unexpectedly). The reason I use Reiser for servers is because it is faster on some things than ext3 (Squid cache for example). Both Reiser and ext3 are journaling, but ext3 seems a bit more tolerant to abuse than Reiser. I agree with what the other user said that it depends on what you're using it for. Researching the pros and cons of each will give you a better idea of what you need.
Old 10-02-2007, 03:01 AM   #10
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Another vote for ext3. I've tried Reiser in the past and had a few issues with it, but ext3 has been 100% problem-free so far.
Old 10-02-2007, 03:10 AM   #11
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I use reiserfs, but it is too slow when copying large files. So in future I plan to use ext3. Other FS are no-go for me -- I don't know about any tool for jfs or xfs to move/resize partitions. Gparted supports only (I mean fully) reiserfs and ext3 (FS with journaling) so there are only two options for me.
Old 10-02-2007, 03:37 AM   #12
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I mainly use XFS and ext3. Never had issues with some of them. I had ReiserFS on some machines from a customer and after a year running, it disintegrated itself so we switched to ext3.

XFS is somewhat faster than ext3 because it's only journalling meta data and not the data itself. Ext3 has the big advantage, that it can be mounted as normal ext2, which gives rise that it can be mounted from Windows machines too (googel IFS drives). This is one main reason for me to use it as exchange file system on big external USB drives. NTFS is problematic to use on some Linux distributions, FAT32 is ok, but has limitations, especially the 30GB limit when formatting under Windows. Ext3/2 works very well from Linux and Windows and does not have these limits, so I use it for this purpose too.

Old 10-02-2007, 03:41 AM   #13
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i also prefer using ext3. you won't have any problems at all ...

fat32 and ntfs aren't options... even if there are good drivers for both (!)
Old 10-02-2007, 03:45 AM   #14
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If you use ext3 (as I do) and care most about data integrity then edit your /etc/fstab and add the option journal=data (or was it data=journal? "man ext3"...). That will add safety since everything will be journaled then.

If you do the partitioning and building of the file system "by hand" you might issue also "mke2fs -O dir_index -J size 400 -j-L root" ("man mke2fs"). dir_index switches on b-tree hashes (better for large directories) and -J size=400 creates a 400 MB journal where a file can be written in one piece. Don't forget to use "tune2fs journal_data" ("man tune2fs") to switch on journaling.

Good luck.

Last edited by JZL240I-U; 10-02-2007 at 03:46 AM.
Old 10-02-2007, 05:32 AM   #15
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You should be aware that this is an 'everyone, give me your conflicting opinions' post. You also have not said much about the usage that you will be putting the filesystem to, and the answer would probably change if you have terabyte database files from that for desktop use (admittedly, it would be difficult to host terabyte files on a 320G disk, but you know the point).

For data security, you would want to chose a journalling filesystem (so not ext2 -ext3 is 'ext2 plus journalling' so I would still see that as a valid choice).

In contrast to some of the earlier posts, I haven't had any issues with reiser (but then I don't re-size partitions), so I'd probably use that.

Reiser4 is still a bit experimental and bleeding edge (and not widely available without hackery) so that's not advisable if data security is high up your list. Ext4 is probably marginally further along in development than Reiser4, but, I would say, still not advisable. This is a shame as both Reiser4 and ext4 are appreciably faster in some specific test cases than earlier systems.

XFS has had some good press but I've never tried it; I probably wouldn't consider anything other than some variety of reiser or ext unless I had a peculiar (say, professional data centre at one end, or embedded at the other) application.

I wouldn't touch NTFS or FAT32 with the proverbial barge pole for linux system usage. These are MS filesystems (which may or may not be inherently a bad thing, depending on your point of view) and so the linux drivers are more developed as a convenience for dual-booters rather than as main filesystems for your linux installation. IF you've got a dual-boot machine, AND you want to share data between an MS OS and a proper one (sorry), then storing that data, or better still, a copy of that data, on an MS-formatted partition makes some kind of sense. Otherwise, no. And, not to install Linux on to, in almost any circumstances. (If you just want to 'give Linux a try', get a live CD. If you like it, install properly.)


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