Lingua franca file system Linux-NetBSD-FreeBSD?

Polytropon freebsd at
Tue Aug 24 10:54:45 UTC 2010

On Tue, 24 Aug 2010 09:53:09 +0000, "Thomas Mueller" <mueller6727 at> wrote:
> There is the obvious possibility of using msdos (FAT32); I could
> run FreeDOS on such a partition as well as using the partition to
> share data between Linux, NetBSD and FreeBSD, and FreeDOS too. 
> Drawback is some problems getting long file names straight, and
> lack of case sensitivity.  But maybe FAT32 is the safest choice?

There is a way around this: Put the files to be transferred into
a tar archive. In this way, only the archives name will have to
obey 8.3, and its content will keep intact (case sensitive long
file names); the only downside is that extraction in DOS will
result in 8.3 filenames again (there's TAR.EXE for DOS).

Know that tar is the "most universal file system". :-) I did use
this approach in the past when having to fransfer files between
non-networked UNIX and Linux systems via floppy disk: Simply used
tar directly on the device (which's device name was of course
different on all the systems).

> Linux, NetBSD and FreeBSD are supposed to be able to read and
> write NTFS partition, but I see from a very recent thread on
> this list, subject "Re: External HD", that writing to NTFS
> partition is very dangerous, and I figure that would be also
> true for NetBSD and Linux, and any other non-MS-Windows-NT-line
> OS that might have support for NTFS. 

NTFS is known to be an unstable file system.

> There is also the caveat that such a data-sharing partition would
> have to be in a primary or extended/logical slice/partition,
> since Linux seems unable to read BSD disklabels, and NetBSD and
> FreeBSD can't read each other's disklabels. 

Linux and DOS do, as far as I remember, only operate on slice level.
Partitioned slices (such as FreeBSD uses them) are a bit problematic.
With 4 slices (so called "DOS primary partitions") a disk is "full".

> Also, Linux and the BSDs go separate ways with some newer file
> systems (ext4fs, btrfs, jfs in Linux; zfs in FreeBSD).

An option would be to avoid the file system level at all. Maybe that's
not a solution to your requirements, but let me mention this: In a
interoperability environment, I did use a disk enclosure with built-in
FTP server. In this way, all OSes can r/w access its content via FTP.
There are no limits regarding 8.3 filenames. Even MacOS X runs well
in such a setting. The downside, of course, is that you have to run
a FTP session for every transfer (instead of just mounting a disk's
partition), but it's basically no problem to use a kind of "FTP-backed
file system", I think I have seen this in some KDE or Gnome...

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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