And one file system to be read by them all?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jcdill, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. jcdill

    jcdill Guest

    A question for the techies on this list:

    I have a new 400 gig hard drive that I'm mounting in an external drive
    case. I'd like to format this drive in an OS-acnostic format so that I
    can plug it into a Windoze, Mac, or *NIX computer (via USB or Firewire)
    and the computer can talk to the drive and read and write to the file
    system and the photo files (canon raw, tiff, and jpegs) therein. Is
    there a single file format can be read and written to by all these
    systems? If so, can I format the drive in a single parition in that
    format and have the full partition be seen in total by all systems? If
    so, which OS should I use to format the drive?

    I *think* that Fat32 works in all 3 systems, but the problem I have is
    that Windoze XP stupidly refuses to format a disk that large in Fat32.
    Before I track down an alternate system (or boot to an alternate OS) to
    format the drive, I wanted to be sure that it will work as I expect
    once formatted and that this is the best file system choice for my

    I'm hoping some other photographer has already figured this problem out
    for their own external drives and has the answer!


    jcdill, Jan 7, 2006
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  2. jcdill

    Andy Dee Guest

    I just did something similar for the exact same reasons.
    I had to use Linux to format the disk FAT32.

    Andy Dee, Jan 7, 2006
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  3. Linux releases have had the ability to read/write NTFS for years if you
    install that capability. I don't know about Macs as I don't use any, but I
    would hope so at this point. Personally I'd try and stay away from FAT32
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), Jan 7, 2006
  4. jcdill

    Rick T. Guest

    Yes, that's the best solution (assuming of course you'll never
    need individual files larger than 4GB.
    Rick T., Jan 7, 2006
  5. Linux releases have had the ability to read/write NTFS for years if you
    NTFS write support on Linux is still somewhat dodgy. It's improved in
    the last year or two due to continued reverse engineering of the format,
    but it's still nowhere near good enough to recommend for anything other
    than experimentation or in-a-pinch situations.

    FAT32 is the only option, as far as I know. The linux ext2 filesystem
    has a Windows driver with read/write support, but no Mac support, and
    the Mac HFS+ filesystem has a Linux driver but no Windows support. FAT32
    is the only option supported by all 3 AFAIK.
    Derek Fountain, Jan 7, 2006
  6. jcdill

    timeOday Guest

    I use Fat32 for the same reason. However, Fat32 performance under linux
    is very bad, in particular the filesystem driver uses a LOT of CPU time
    in kernel mode which makes the system nonresponsive.

    I found this out the hard way; I thought VMWare was bringing my system
    to its knees. It was sluggish and unresponsive. Then I started getting
    a nondescript disk error from VMWare and was worried my disk was going
    bad. But then I noticed the virtual disk was right at 2GB, so I moved
    to an Ext3 partition to alleviate the file size restriction. To my
    delight the systm now runs much, much better and smoother. The
    difference is very dramatic.

    Of course all this could depend on kernel version (I think I was using
    2.6.7). The file size limit I hit (2GB) may also depend on what library
    versions and compile options your programs are built with.

    Anyways, I guess none of the problems really matter for something simple
    like storing photos.
    timeOday, Jan 7, 2006
  7. jcdill

    Paul Allen Guest

    Careful here! While you can mount an NTFS filesystem read/write under
    Linux, this has not ever been a safe thing to do. Read-only is fine.
    That may be about to change, since Linus just released a new kernel
    version with a bunch of NTFS changes.

    I agree about fat32 being a bad choice, but it may be the least evil
    of choices for this particular application. With no way to back it
    up, it'll be 400GB of data that's expendable.

    Paul Allen
    Paul Allen, Jan 7, 2006
  8. Yeah I forgot we were only mounting for reads of 8GB flight databases at
    work and never wrote back to that partition. My mistake.
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), Jan 7, 2006
  9. I use Fat32 for the same reason. However, Fat32 performance under linux
    FAT32 performance is bad on any OS. All those lookups are O(N) and just
    don't scale. That, I suspect, is the reason Microsoft force the use of
    NTFS for partitions over 32GB. 99 times out of 100 FAT32 is a bloody
    awful choice!
    Derek Fountain, Jan 8, 2006
  10. jcdill

    l v Guest

    One of the easiest solutions is to use Network Attached Storage (NAS) , appox $100 USD plus the cost of USB drives.
    I have not tried this solution yet but I recently purchased Linksys'
    Network Storage Link. It allows you to attach 2 USB drives to the
    device which is then attached to your home network. I'm assuming you
    have a home network since you are dealing with multiple OS.

    I have not switched to this solution since the USB drives are formated
    in a format that is not compatible with Windows. I need to work out my
    migration plan first.
    l v, Jan 11, 2006
  11. jcdill

    jcdill Guest

    You are assuming wrong. I'm mobile, with a laptop that I take from
    place to place. I need mobile external data storage for my
    recent/current photo file archives. NAS doesn't work in this
    application, plus it's more expensive per GB of storage than a plain
    This is step 1 of my migration plan. When I migrate I want all my
    photo data in a format that "just works" with the new OS.

    jcdill, Jan 11, 2006
  12. Are you sure it doesn't work? If you only want to connect your laptop
    to a NAS box, with no other network connections, all you need is a
    crossover-wired 100BaseT network cable. If you want to connect a
    laptop, a NAS box, and also connect to an in-room ADSL modem, then you
    will need a hub or switch.

    There are NAS boxes that are no larger than many external USB drive

    On the other hand, you're right that the NAS solution is more expensive
    at the moment, and probably will remain so.
    If your data is on a portable NAS server, then it does "just work" with
    the new OS. I have a Linksys NSLU2 NAS box and the data on it is
    accessible to PCs running both Windows and Linux. Nobody cares that the
    drive itself is formatted EXT3, since nobody talks to the raw drive.

    (I wouldn't recommend the NSLU2 for your application, because it takes 2
    separate boxes, but there are combined NAS/disk units).

    Dave Martindale, Jan 11, 2006
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