Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Exploring Linux – Part 6
by Alan German

While Windows won't even acknowledge the presence of a Linux partition on a hard drive, Linux does not exhibit any such mean-spiritedness. Linux is quite willing to report the existence of Windows partitions and in fact, with the right sequence of commands, will happily let you access the files that they contain. This can be very handy on a machine running in dual-boot mode where the same files can be shared by both operating systems. For example, since the Open Office suite of applications is more-or-less compatible with Microsoft Office, we can maintain one set of data files (Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc.) on a Windows partition and access the same files using Open Office in Linux or Microsoft Office running under Windows.

We first need to find out what partitions Linux has at its disposal. Let's fire up a Terminal window and type the command: sudo fdisk -l. This will produce a table something like the following:

Disk /dev/hda: 30.0 GB, 30005821440 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 3648 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

Device Boot

Start

End

Blocks

Id

System

/dev/hda1 *

1

765

6144831

b

W95 FAT32

/dev/hda2

1250

3648

19269967+

f

W95 Ext'd (LBA)

/dev/hda3

766

1249

3887730

83

Linux

/dev/hda5

1276

3648

19061091

b

W95 FAT32

/dev/hda6

1250

1275

208782

82

Linux swap / Solaris

It should be obvious that hda indicates a hard disk partition, hda1 being the Windows c: drive, while hda3 is a 4 GB Linux partition, and hda6 is the Linux swap space. It's also obvious to me (since this is my machine) that hda5 is my Windows data drive.

It's this partition that we want to make accessible to Linux which we do by mounting the volume. However, first we must create a mount point which we do in the Terminal window by issuing the command: sudo mkdir /mnt/windows_data, As the command name suggests, this makes a new sub-directory named windows_data under the mnt directory in the Linux file structure. Now we need to tell Linux about the details of the data partition such as the format type (FAT32 or NTFS). In my case, the partition is formatted as FAT32, so the command to be entered into the Terminal window is:

sudo mount /dev/hda5 /mnt/windows_data -t vfat -o iocharset=utf8,umask=000

If your partition is NTFS, then the appropriate command is of the form:

sudo mount /dev/hda5 /mnt/windows_data -t ntfs -o nls=utf8,umask=0222

Note that we are specifying the particular device (in my case /dev/hda5) that is to be mounted, giving it the name of a pre-defined mount point (/mnt/windows_data), and setting parameters appropriate to the disk format.

If we now run Nautilus, the Linux file manager (using the menu sequence – Places – Computer), we will find that we have an 18GB volume named /mnt/windows_data available. And, if we run OpenOffice.org Writer, we will find that we can load the file linux_06.doc (this newsletter article on my machine) from this partition, edit the file in Writer, and then save the modified version back to the Windows data partition where it will be available for subsequent processing in Word next time we boot into Windows.

But, the mount command is rather long and complex to have to issue every time we log on to Linux. And, knowing the power of Linux, we can guess that there must be an easier way. Actually, one way that will work right now, is to open Terminal and press the up arrow, at which point the mount command in all its glory appears as if by magic. Of course, it does so because Linux maintains a command history and we are merely selecting the last command used from the buffer. The permanent fix is to edit the /etc/fstab file and insert an entry for our Windows data partition. So, in Terminal, let's enter: sudo gedit /etc/fstab to produce the following listing in the editor's window:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
#

#<file system>

<mount point>

<type>

<options>

<dump>

<pass>

proc

/proc

proc

defaults

0

0

/dev/hda3

/

ext3

defaults,errors=remount-ro

0

1

/dev/hda6

none

swap

sw

0

0

/dev/hdc

/media/cdrom0

udf,iso9660

user,noauto

0

0

And, let's add the following new line to the end of this file to specify a permanent entry for the Windows data partition:

/dev/hda5      /mnt/windows_data     vfat     iocharset=utf8,umask=000     0     0

Save the file and reboot the computer. If you now check Places – Computer, you will now find that your Windows data partition has been mounted automatically and is ready for immediate use.

So, now we have the best of both worlds – access to our working office files – from both Windows and Linux. What more could you want?


Bottom Line:

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (Open Source)
http://www.ubuntu.com/

Mounting Windows Partitions in Ubuntu
http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu


Click here to view the full OPCUG website with frames.

Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews do not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.

Send comments or suggestions to the .