I have a new 3 terabyte external USB hard drive (Seagate ST3000DM001 in an enclosure). I hope to use it on both my iMac (OS X 10.6.8) and my Linux machines (Kubuntu). Right now this drive will probably be used primarily on the Mac, but that could change in the future; I don't use my Mac that much.

I have not formatted or partitioned the drive yet. What are my best options?

Should I format the drive with the Mac HFS+ case-sensitive option?

Given that I am not familiar with OS X, I would rather do standard stuff on the Mac and non-standard stuff on Linux where I'm more comfortable. That leads me to slightly prefer formatting this drive in a native Mac format. On the other hand, I have several Linux boxes where I could use this drive, so if I do non-standard stuff to mount it, I'll have to do that on each Linux machine.

However, for this question, assume a 50/50 split between use on the two operating systems.

I don't want to purchase any proprietary or commercial software to accomplish this task. And I need read & write access.

2 Answers 2


If you want to do it the Mac way, format the drive as HFS+ with no journaling (if you format it with journaling, I think you can turn this off with diskutil).

The linux HFS+ kernel drivers (CONFIG_HFSPLUS_FS Filesystems->Miscellaneous filesystems->Apple Extended HFS file system support) can mount HFS+ volumes with full read/write access as long as the volume does not have journaling enabled.


If you are using any Windows machine in the process as well, my suggestion would be to use NTFS (formatted from the Windows machine) and use fuse-ntfs-3g and ntfs-3g inside the *nix systems. That worked the best for me, as far as having the best compatibility between all 3 systems. Haven't tested on Sun or anything else.

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