[Wiltshire] Formatting a USB portable hard drive for Linux

Tim Walker tim at sidingsound.co.uk
Sat Nov 7 07:38:39 UTC 2009

Hi all,

I haven't posted here in ages (though I read the list digests), but I  
have a query which I think you're my best hope of getting some good  
advice :)

Recently, I bought a refurbished Asus Eee PC 701 8Gb netbook with  
Linux, from Laptops Direct (for £109 - I think they still have some  
left). As you may know, the distro on there is a tweaked version of  
Xandros, customised for the machine's hardware. It does a good enough  
job, and I've already managed to hack it a bit more to my liking (e.g.  
I switched the window manager to Fluxbox).

For my impending birthday, my family has got me a 500Gb portable USB  
hard drive (a Freecom), which I plan to use for... well, basically  
storing shedloads of multimedia files for use with the Eee when I/we  
are away from home :-)

What I'd appreciate some advice on, is partitioning of the drive, and  
which filesystem(s) are best to use. This is perhaps a little more  
complex a question than normal, due partly to the mix of computers we  
have at home (in short: the Eee, an iMac (our primary desktop  
machine), a WinXP laptop and a couple of Linux boxes).

Here's my idea of how I think the drive should be 'divvied up':

- A primary partition of FAT32 (perhaps 32Gb or so), for "exchange"  
with other (Windows) PCs.

- At the other end, a small partition (4Gb?) for experimenting with  

- As for the rest of the drive, this is the tough part. Do I format it  
as ext2 (or ext3), considering that I'll probably be using the drive  
with the Linux Eee most of all; or as HFS+, as I'll most likely need  
to connect the drive to the Mac fairly often to transfer files onto it?

 From what I've read, it looks like there's not much to choose from,  
between the Eee mounting an HFS+ volume, and the Mac mounting an ext2/ 
ext3 volume. It appears both can be done (with the odd caveat), but I  
wondered if any of you have had experience with this kind of scenario,  
and could advise on which approach might work best?

Many thanks :)


More information about the Wiltshire mailing list