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Operating Systems

Submission + - Sharing filesystems between Linux and Windows

Mostly a lurker writes: I am preparing to reorganise my primary desktop (again). I need to be mobile, so I actually use a Shuttle XPC with a couple of sizeable harddrives rather than using a separate server for file storage. Mostly, I run completely within VMware virtual machines as this allows quick and easy switching between different test and stable environments. My preferred host is Linux but, every now and again, I need access to some piece of hardware that mandates that I boot up Windows. Thus, I need a dual boot MS Windows, Linux setup with:
  • very little installed in these host systems I boot into;
  • virtual machines on filesystems that are portable between Linux and Windows;
  • shared filesystems that are accessed (read/write) by many different Linux, Windows and occasionally other virtual machines.
I am most interested in having a solution that is robust. Performance is also important, but not at the expense of reliability. Selective compression would be nice (for instance, I keep commonly used CD/DVD images on disk and some compress nicely).

I do not regard these as exotic requirements in 2006, but (unless I am missing something) all available solutions fall short in one way or another:
  1. FAT32 — This seems the only fully supported solution. Irrecoverable filesystem corruption is always a risk and performance is pretty poor.
  2. Ext2 Installable File System for Windows — This looks like a possible solution as I use Linux most of the time. Essentially, it seems to allow full Ext3 filesystem support for Linux and limited Ext3 filesystem support for Windows. Most of the restrictions under Windows I could live with, but I am uncomfortable with the lack of journaling support. It is also unclear to me how robust a solution this would be generally.
  3. Mount Everything 3.0 , a commercial product from Paragon that has full Ext2/Ext3 support: unclear whether this has any major advantages over the free version;
  4. ReiserDriver — At one time, this was a promising project to provide ReiserFS support under Windows. Unfortunately, development seems to have stopped and I doubt it would be robust enough for my purposes.
  5. NTFS — An NTFS solution of some kind is the way I am leaning right now. There are all kinds of attempts at NTFS support under Linux. To summarise the main ones I am aware of
    • standard Linux 2.6 NTFS driver: full read support, limited write support; robust, but inadequate for my purposes;
    • ntfsmount, a FUSE based driver by Yura Pakhuchiy: less limited write support, stability questionable; unless someone can convince me otherwise, the limitations will still be too severe and the reliability too uncertain for my purposes;
    • ntfs-3g, an extension of ntfsmount by Szabolcs Szakacsits: very exciting new option, but very new; has full read/write support and, seemingly, excellent performance; this may be the solution in six months, but I am not brave enough to risk my primary work box to it right now;
    • Paragon NTFS for Linux 5.0, a commercial driver provising full read/write support; I have heard criticisms that this is not robust, and performance is said to be mediocre; interested in further opinions;
    • Captive NTFS, another FUSE based solution by Jan Kratochvil; this provides a wrapper around the standard NTFS filesystem driver; the project seemed to lose steam for a while, but has had a recent new lease of life; I am very interested in opinions on the general state of this project;
I am wondering if I am missing an obvious alternative approach here. Are there others with similar problems? What have you come up with?

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