Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Exploring Linux - Part 8
by Alan German

Gutsy Gibbon is here! Otherwise known as Ubuntu Linux Version 7.10, the latest distro from Ubuntu is now available, and its features cause me to revisit a couple of items noted in earlier parts of this series of exploratory articles.

First up, in
Exploring Linux – Part 7, I noted that it was fairly simple to create a dual-boot system for Ubuntu 6.06 and Microsoft Windows Vista. However, this did require manual editing of GRUB's menu.lst file in order to add a series of commands to point to the Vista partition. In the current Ubuntu release such machinations are no longer necessary. Gutsy Gibbon is fully aware of Vista's existence, and the installation process automatically provides an entry point to access this “other” operating system. So, now when you install Ubuntu 7.10, and boot the machine, GRUB's boot menu includes an option for “Windows Vista/Longhorn (loader)”.

The second new feature relates back to
Exploring Linux – Part 6 where I indicated the commands needed to mount a Windows partition in order to be able to use the same data disk for both Linux and Windows' installations. My application at the time was to access a FAT data partition, and I had no trouble reading files from the disk, modifying them with Linux programs (e.g. OpenOffice.org Writer), and writing them back to the “Windows” disk. So, it came as a slight shock when, on my new machine, I used the variant of the mount command to access an NTFS partition and found that, while I could read files from the disk, I couldn't modify them, nor write them out to the disk, since they were opened as read-only!

This obviously needed a little research. So, firing up my trusty web browser, and equally-trusty search engine, I soon learned that getting Linux to write to NTFS partitions was fraught with difficulties. Well, it was – until February 21, 2007. That date marked the first stable release of NTFS-3G, an open-source NTFS driver for Linux, and a number of other operating systems. NTFS-3G has a long history of development, stretching back to 1995, with recent activities resulting in a completely functional product.

The NTFS-3G driver is part of the Gutsy Gibbon distro and so, modifying the etc/fstab file to include the line:
/dev/sda3 /mnt/windows_data ntfs-3g defaults,locale=en_US,utf8 0 1
provides my system with read-write access to my Windows' data disk when I am booted into Linux.


Bottom Line:

Ubuntu 7.10
http://www.ubuntu.com/

NTFS-3G Stable Read/Write Driver
http://www.ntfs-3g.org


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