Thursday, July 27, 2006

How to explore Linux partition within Windows

Exploring Linux in Windows

Linux has built in support to work on Windows file system (Fat 16/32) but the vice versa is going to be absolutely wrong for foreseeable future. Across network, from Windows machine, you can access Linux files through SAMBA, but on dual boot machine that has Linux native file system (ext2) on other partition, there is no easy way to work on Linux files from Windows. Often it becomes necessary to have a look on Linux files from Windows in dual boot machines. The easiest solution is to have your Linux installation either in Windows partition (WinLinux) or in other partition having FAT file system. But then you will not get what you want from Linux (and ext2 file system).

For quite some time, some independent individual programmers have tried to work around to access Linux ext2 file system from DOS / Windows. You may find a couple of tool that helps you in mounting Linux native file system in Windows, but either they remain in beta version or in experimental stage and if one works in certain version of Windows, becomes buggy in another. However, there is a tool called Explore2fs which is written originally for Windows NT, now known to work on all major versions of Windows, is quite stable, is simple in running, and can perform some write operations in partition having Linux file system(ext2) from Windows. Here is how to do Linux file operation in Windows with this tool.

Explore2fs : The Linux Explorer for Windows

Download the file from accompanying LFY CD or from its web site to your hard disk and unzip it in a directory. The tool is very small and does not need installation. Simply run the executable file explore2fs.exe file from the directory where you have unzipped the downloaded file. Make sure that you have selected all file to unzip and there is diskio2.dll file unzipped in the directory. After running the explore2fs.exe file, an explorer like window will appear that shows your disk / directory having Linux partition. Now you can perform normal file operations like copying / pasting and drag and drop etc.

Note that while the program may work in all versions of windows, you may still find some bug in running this tool. Earlier, the author of this tool has added write support as default option. But due to bugs and irrecoverable errors, this features have been removed from default settings in its latest version and if it felt absolutely necessary, then this can be enabled by adding registry setting value “"DangerWriteSupport" = 1. To add this registry entry to enable write support in Explore2fs, start registry editor, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Newbigin\explore2fs and add a new string value “DangerWriteSupport”. Modify its value to 1. Close the registry editor and restart the Explore2fs. Now you have write support in your Linux ext2 file system from within Windows. But be aware, changing registry setting of Windows and according to the developer of Explore2fs, enabling write support is dangerous and you may loose your data. However, you can view and export Linux Files from partition or drive having ext2 / ext3 file system to Windows partition without any trouble. Except write operations, the tool also works well in Windows XP.

There are some other tools namely EXT2 TOOLS, FSDEXT2, LTOOLS and a couple of other tool but except LTOOLS, other tool does not give the desired result. LTOOLS works fine in Command mode and for GUI mode, it required Sun’s JAVA (and not of Microsoft’s).

Screenshot descriptions:

  1. Linux Explorer 1 Explore2fs the tool that lets you file operations on Linux native partition (ext2 and ext3 file system) from Windows.
  2. Linux Explorer 2 With Explore2fs, you can view the files through external Windows viewer or export the files from Linux partition to Windows partition without any trouble. Drag and drop is also supported and non recognizable file can be exported as text files.
  3. Linux Explorer 3 Explore2fs has built in debug window to show you possible errors.
  4. Linux Explorer 4 DOS based Linux file system handling utility FSDEXT2 has limitations and does not have enough functionality.
  5. Linux Explorer 5 LTOOLS, another Linux file system explorer works both from command line and GUI mode. It needs Sun’s JAVA for its GUI.
  6. Linux Explorer 6 Working with Linux file system from Windows Command mode may require slightly different commands and syntax.
  7. Linux Explorer 7 The write operation in Linux partition’s ext2 file system through Explore2fs can generate disk errors depending upon where you write your files. By default, write option in Linux partition is disabled in Explore2fs which is to be enabled through registry setting.

Links to sites for downloading software mentioned in this article:


Raviratlami said...

There is a better way to explore Linux (ext2 or 3 file system only) within Windows -

Download Ext2 FS file system driver from here -

and run it. In first run, it will detect all the Linux volume (but not the logical ones) and you can assign Drive names such as E: or F: etc and so on.

It is as easy as that!

Anonymous said...

But Ext2fs doesn't support logical volume management, a feature of many Linux systems (e g, Fedora Core 6).

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