March 14, 2008 9:33 AM   Subscribe

I think I'm finally switching to Ubuntu on my main machine. I have two 160GB external drives, currently both with NTFS, currently mirrored (by software, not a RAID). With what and how should I format/use these guys?

Currently both drives have about 60 gigs used. I have 80 or so gigs on my laptop. I'd like them to be accessible by Windows in a clutch, and eventually (about a year) I'm getting a mac laptop, so I'll need to switch to that too. But my primary goal is to get a good Linux / Windows formatting scheme for the meantime. They're filled with music and school documents - no applications at this point. I'm aiming to use VirtualBox or similar (any suggestions?) to run Windows, so that might decide their accessibility?

posted by tmcw to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, and as far as running Windows apps - it's really running just one windows app - Photoshop CS (possibly CS2). So any virtualization scenario that rocks at Photoshop would rock for me.
posted by tmcw at 9:40 AM on March 14, 2008

Wine will run Photoshop CS2.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:47 AM on March 14, 2008

ntfs 3g is surprisingly stable, and in some cases has been tested to outperform ext2/3 (!!?!) -- I've had no problems with it ever.

as for migrating the raid, I'm not sure it will work automagically from windows dynamic volumes to mdadm / dmraid or suchlike, although searching around I do see some accounts of success doing this. more likely you'd probably have to break the mirror and use one of the disks to create a new mirror in linux, and then add the second one. my experience with md/dm is that once you have the array set up, it generally just works (dm service starts at boot time and looks for matching IDs of volumes)

no idea how / if osx deals with ntfs, much less a software volume set that's been defined in windows or linux...
posted by dorian at 9:51 AM on March 14, 2008

(duh) it would have to stick with the windows volume scheme, for your requirements. sorry. well then, leaving the volume config intact is worth a try...
posted by dorian at 9:54 AM on March 14, 2008

I've had no trouble accessing an Ubuntu (7.10) ext3 partition via samba from a windows xp client. Just follow the instructions on the Ubuntu site to set up samba. Both boxes aquire addresses via dhcp, the windows box mounts the network drive on login. I'm amazed at how slick it all is.
posted by bonehead at 10:46 AM on March 14, 2008

Response by poster: re: dorian - I'm just backing up one drive to the other, it isn't a real RAID. Thanks for the tip, though - it looks quite good.

On related matters: SIGH, they're both Seagate Free Agent drives... hopefully the linux kernel patch is actually applied in Xubuntu.
posted by tmcw at 11:04 AM on March 14, 2008

I've been looking at reformatting my computer doing dual (perhaps even triple boot XP/Vista) with a huge OS free data partition in between. I was trying to decide on the file system and I came across a couple of links. I'm leaning towards ext3 and then installing this driver to allow Windows access. I have used NTFS from Ubuntu with no problems, however.
posted by mockdeep at 11:46 AM on March 14, 2008

The path of least resistance is to mount these using the ntfs-g3 driver as mentioned above. The path of cautious superstition is to format these natively as ext3. Personally, I chose the path of least resistance . . .
posted by gum at 3:32 PM on March 14, 2008

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