I want to have a singular home drive for both my Win7 and Arch partitions, so I initially set the partition to NTFS, as so:

  5gb /
 20gb C:
475gb /home + D:

which worked up until I started developing in SDL (which doesn't like the NTFS partition for permission reasons) so now I'm wondering if there's another format I can use in both windows and linux that isn't fat32 (I have some big (4+Gb) files for game dev)

3 Answers 3


There is an ext2/ext3 filesystem driver for Windows. I know nothing about it other than the fact that it exists. It or something like it should do the job, though.

It may be possible to use UDF for this, particularly since you can stick to recent versions of Windows.

Windows is very picky about what it will recognize as a valid UDF filesystem, so it is best to create the filesystem within Windows, then mount it on the Linux side which is less strict:

c:\> format /fs:udf x:

You would look up the drive letter x: in the Windows Disk Management tool. You might want to (re)create the partition there, too.

Don't use /q with the format command: that creates a filesystem that is less likely to mount in other OSes for some reason. Yes, this means formatting a many-GB filesystem will take a long time. You may therefore want to experiment with a temporarily shrunk version of the filesystem, rebuilding it once you're sure both sides see it and are storing things properly in it.

On the Linux side, if it succeeds in mounting the filesystem, it will be able to set file permissions and such correctly on files within it. Windows should ignore these permissions, though if you modify a permission-sensitive file from the Windows side, it may overwrite them with null permissions, causing problems on the Linux side.

Be warned: if this works, it will be by a bleeding edge kind of luck. There is no technical reason it cannot work, but because it isn't being banged on regularly, and no large class of users depends on it, the code involved doesn't get a lot of testing and enhancement. The fact that you have to do the formatting in Windows from the command line is just one manifestation of this.

Another alternative you might look into is some form of NAS.

  • 1
    UDF is in fact very largely used and tested since it is the filesystem of choice for writing to DVDs. Windows hides the option when using hard drives only to try to lock you in non-portable and proprietary formats like exFAT
    – MarcH
    Jan 29, 2013 at 10:45
  • 1
    @MarcH: Yes, UDF-on-DVD is well-tested. UDF-on-HDD-with-POSIX-perms is not. I spent hours trying different things while composing this answer, because I kept running into things that didn't work. Jan 29, 2013 at 16:53
  • 1
    were these things that did not work anything else than formatting and permissions? Formatting options are a problem but a solved problem serverfault.com/questions/55089/… Concerning permissions I'd be surprised if ANY filesystem manages permissions correctly across operating in a way that makes sense.
    – MarcH
    Feb 9, 2013 at 10:19

I have this situation (but my data partition is an external hard drive).

You could have a /home partition using any Linux file system, and a separate data partition formatted as NTFS.

Then, store your large files in that partition and keep /home only for permission-sensitive stuff and for files that you only use under Linux.

Also, you might try to use ext2/3 and this Windows driver but back up your data first (I had problems with this in the past). However, do note that it might cause permission problems. From its FAQ:

Access rights are not maintained. All users can access all the directories and files of an Ext2 volume. If a new file or directory is created, it inherits all the permissions, the GID and the UID from the directory where it has been created. There is one exception to this rule: a file (but not a directory) the driver has created always has cleared "x" permissions, it inherits the "r" and the "w" permissions only. See also section "What limitations arise from not maintaining access rights?".


NTFS is your best bet for a drive that needs to have files over 2GB and to be shared between Windows and Linux. Don't look for another filesystem: there isn't one. Windows only supports FAT and NTFS natively, and while there is an ext2 driver for Windows, it isn't well-supported, especially if you want to use it for writing. Your permission issues, on the other hand, can probably be fixed with the right permission settings under Windows and the right mount options.

I don't advise sharing a drive, though. Ideally, you should run one operating system natively and the other one in a virtual machine. If this isn't an option because you need direct access to the video hardware, I recommend making each operating system write only on its native filesystem, and access the other OS's filesystem for reading only.

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