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February 1, 2011 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Need help recovering data on a dying Macbook from Ubuntu

It seems the hard drive in my Macbook is finally dying, so I'm trying to recover a few files from it using an Ubuntu live CD. Most of my stuff is backed up aside from these new ones from the past week or so. I've managed to get the computer loaded into Ubuntu and I can view the hard drive as well as a USB external drive that I'd like to transfer the files onto. However, when I try to actually copy anything over, it says the destination on the USB drive is read only. What do I need to adjust to allow writing to the drive? Both the dying internal drive and the USB external are formatted in HFS+. I know next to nothing about Linux, so this is all new to me.
posted by fishmasta to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
From this, you'll have to disable journaling on the external USB drive (from within OS X) before being able to mount it read/write in Ubuntu.

Honestly, I'd look for a regular PC formatted USB drive (VFAT/FAT32) as an intermediary to copy onto.
posted by kmz at 8:25 PM on February 1, 2011

If you don't have anything important on the flash drive, you could reformat it.
posted by wayland at 8:26 PM on February 1, 2011

So the livecd can probably read from hfs+ just fine but it likely can't write to it, or perhaps the livecd is built in such a way that it doesn't like writing to disks. Hard to say.

Try reformatting the empty usb drive to fat32 so everything under the sun can read/write to it and copy the stuff you need from the computer to it.

The more you muck with the macs disk the less happiness will be experienced if it is truly on it's way out, so try not to much about with the macs disk too much if you can avoid it.
posted by iamabot at 8:55 PM on February 1, 2011

nthing formatting the usb disk to plain old fat32. anything newer than that will probably run into permissions issues. also fyi whenever i've done this somehow all my files on the usb disk wind up marked as read-only, so i have to go back and un-read-only them to make them usable again.
posted by msbutah at 9:03 PM on February 1, 2011

In case you're curious, heres why this is happening: Linux can't write journaled HFS+. In OS X, you can change the file system from journaled and unjournaled pretty easily, but obviously you can't do that right now. I don't know if Ubuntu can write any HFS+ out of the box, to be honest; I know with debian, for example, you have to install a few packages to get this to work.
posted by wayland at 10:35 PM on February 1, 2011

You can boot from a Snow Leopard DVD and use Disk Utility to change the filesystem from journaled to unjournaled.
posted by antgly at 10:43 PM on February 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the explanation, wayland. Makes sense.

Antgly, I'll try changing the filesystem once I find my Snow Leopard disk. Failing that, I guess I'll have to format a fat32 drive. I suppose this wasn't as easy as I was expecting.
posted by fishmasta at 11:41 PM on February 1, 2011

Can you boot to an OS X install disk and use the disk utility there to turn off journaling on the USB drive?
posted by clockwork at 6:56 AM on February 2, 2011

I run Ubuntu 10.10 on a laptop and it can write HFS+ out of the box. It just can't write HFS+ journaled as Wayland suggests. I know this from trying to mount and write to an HSF+ OS X backup drive.

Anyway, if you can't turn off journaling on the USB drive from Mac OS X just reformat the drive as fat32 as suggested. You should be able to do this from within the live CD. In Ubuntu, click on System, then Administration, then Disk Utility. You will be able to reformat the USB drive here (make sure you don't reformat your Mac hard drive of course!). However, note the file size limitation with fat32 (4GB).
posted by Linuxfan at 8:10 AM on February 2, 2011

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