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Old 08-06-2007, 08:14 PM   #1
Registered: Feb 2006
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NTFS vs. FAT32 File Structure Woes

I'm interested in installing a linux distro, Ubuntu 7.0.4 in all likelihood, but I've run into a problem with my external HDD. It's pretty big at 500 GB (most of that space used), and formatted in NTFS. I really need to be able to read and write on it, and as I understand it the usual linux file structure, FAT32, doesn't like to write to it, though it can handle reading NTFS. On top of that, FAT32 appears to be totally unable to handle files larger than 1 GB in size, and I've got plenty of files that big and larger on my external (big archive files, disc image backups, etc).

So it seems that what I need, if such a thing exists, is something that can allow a linux OS to read and write to NTFS in a practical and user friendly way, i.e.: I don't want to have to endure some drawn out procedure every time I need to save a file to my external HDD from Ubuntu.

I'm growing steadily more tired of Windows, so I hope there's a way to make this work.

Thanks a lot.
Old 08-06-2007, 08:29 PM   #2
Registered: Jun 2007
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Ok, then I misunderstood your question.... I thought you were trying to install Ubuntu onto that external hard drive.....after reading the two responses below I realized that you only need Ubuntu to be able to read to and from's late.. Sounds like the two posts below got you covered....


Last edited by Enochs; 08-06-2007 at 11:48 PM.
Old 08-06-2007, 08:58 PM   #3
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ntfs-3g is safe to write NTFS - normal caveats re backups applying.

Should be in synaptic with latest Ubuntu I would have thought - else check the wiki.
Old 08-06-2007, 09:50 PM   #4
Junior Hacker
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How about I clarify,
Go ahead and install Ubuntu onto your computer, then install ntfs-3g which should also install fuse and fuse-libs. You may also be able to select ntfs-3g during the initial installation in deselect and it will be ready when you re-boot. After a re-boot (with ntfs-3g installed) you can plug in and turn on the external drive, I'm not sure how Ubuntu will mount the drive, it may be in read only mode, it may even mount it with ntfs-3g in read/write mode. I'm guessing Ubuntu has a graphical mount utility to allow you to mount it in read/write, if not, you may have to open a terminal and mount it manually in read/write.
To mount it manually, in a terminal issue command: fdisk -l to see what device it is, if you have a SATA drive in the computer, the USB drive will be the second SATA as /dev/sdb1, the (1) is the first and possibly only partition. If you have a PATA drive in the computer, the USB drive should be the first SATA, /dev/sda1 for the first partition. Find where in the directory it can be accessed when it is read only, this may be in /media/LABEL, the "LABEL" is whatever label/name your external drive has. Now you have to un-mount it first if it's in read only mode before mounting it in read/write with ntfs-3g. In the example below, I'll assume the external drive is /dev/sdb1 and can be accessed via /media/USB and I list both commands to un-mount it, and re-mount it in read/write:
umount /media/USB
mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sdb1 /media/USB
Now you can access it via the same directory (/media/USB) in read/write.

And Linux formats it's partitions in either extended2 (ext2), extended3 (ext3), reiserfs and others. Not FAT, that's a popular Windows format that Linux and other operating systems can all read and write to without much hassle, it is the predecessor to the popular Windows NTFS file system which is an improvement over FAT.
EDIT: The maximum file size in a FAT32 file system is 4GB minus one sector (512B).

Last edited by Junior Hacker; 08-06-2007 at 10:00 PM.


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