On my new PC I want to install both Linux and Windows, each on their own rather small partition, and put the big rest of the 1 TB HDD in a further partition (plus swap). Which filesystem should I use? My thoughts:

  • NTFS. Linux has write support, but I noticed on my external HDD a huge performance drop when only a few GB (of 500 GB) were left free - suddenly a few hundred MB took half an hour to copy... Any ideas why? Also no file permissions with Linux, although that is not 100% necessary but would be a bonus
  • fat32. Too old, won't support that partition size anyway
  • ext3. Windows can read for example via ext2ifs, but what about good write support? I'd even consider a small virtual machine with a tiny Linux installation to only provide a NFS share to its host windows (probably qemu, distro recommendation are appreciated)
  • ext4. I lack the experience with it...

It looks lke NTFS is the way to go for now (just as it was two years ago), but I'd prefer a less proprietary solution.


If you don't mind running a VM. You could use it to share your partition via samba (simpler in Windows then NFS)

  • True, Samba should be easier. Can you recommend any tiny distribution with only that purpose? – Tobias Kienzler Dec 30 '10 at 11:22
  • @Tobias: Ubuntu's server has a vm optimized install and will offer during the installation to setup a Samba service. – Josh Dec 30 '10 at 22:13

If you run coLinux on Windows (through the andLinux distribution or otherwise), you can use it to access any filesystem that Linux supports.

  • +1 great idea, I already forgot I read about coLinux... can you recommend a minimum distribution for this purpose? And does this offer a mapped drive maybe without having to use samba at all? – Tobias Kienzler Dec 30 '10 at 13:53
  • too bad, neither supports 64 bit windows :-( – Tobias Kienzler Jan 1 '11 at 18:56

I use an ext3 partition with ext2ifs and it works fine for reading and writing.

  • 1
    Does it (subjectively) perform better than NTFS on Linux? – Tobias Kienzler Dec 30 '10 at 13:01
  • Haven't tested it. As I first started using it, the NTFS write support in the Linux kernel was not very good, so I had no choice. – Christian Dec 30 '10 at 13:46
  • 1
    thanks. Unfortunately ext2ifs doesn't seem to work with 64 bit win 7 at the moment – Tobias Kienzler Jan 3 '11 at 15:32

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