[Wiltshire] Formatting a USB portable hard drive for Linux

Simon Iremonger wiltslug at iremonger.me.uk
Sat Nov 7 12:49:01 UTC 2009

On Sat, 7 Nov 2009, Tim Walker wrote:
> I haven't posted here in ages (though I read the list digests),
Don't worry everybody is welcome to ask sensible questions ;-).

> Recently, I bought a refurbished Asus Eee PC 701 8Gb netbook
> you may know, the distro on there is a tweaked version of Xandros,
It seems that you can easily run 'Ubuntu netbook remix' if you want
   an alternative with more features.

> hack it a bit more to my liking (e.g. I switched 
> the window manager to Fluxbox).
Thats good then! Ubuntu netbook remix does some weirdness to save
   space on the screen, with 1 panel that is also used for the title
   bar of the window, with no borders.... Works though.

> my family has got me a 500Gb portable USB hard drive (a Freecom),
> What I'd appreciate some advice on, is partitioning of the drive, and
> which filesystem(s) are best to use.
> the Eee, an iMac (our primary desktop machine), a WinXP laptop and
> a couple of Linux boxes).

thats a good question!

I know that Ubuntu will support  hfs+, ntfs-3g (read write support),
   fat32, ext3, and (in recent versions) ext4.

Xandros could easily support the above, but it *might* not have the
   ntfs-3g driver installed, it *might* not have the hfs+ module.
If the 'older' ntfs driver is in use, ntfs support will be essentially

FAT32 is a 'safe bet' for compatibility BUT it will not support
   files over 4gb !!!  Could be a problem depending upon your

It may may sense, as you suggest to have a small FAT32 at the beginning
   which will 'always work' if you like.  Be aware that win2000/xp has
   an artificial limitation that it will refuse to format a fat32 over
   32gb but will work fine with one over that size.

> - At the other end, a small partition (4Gb?) for experimenting with
> TrueCrypt.
I think truecrypt will work on a file container, it does not need
   a 'partition'.

> 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?
If you use ext3, you *can* mount it on windows [in 'ext2 mode'] (i.e.
   some caveats) with an added driver.

As you are getting a new drive, what I would say is 'try it'!
See if ntfs read/writes on all of them, and ext3, and hfs+,
   you will soon discover!

> Tim
Let us know what you end up on, we would be interested to know!


More information about the Wiltshire mailing list