[kwlug-disc] Encrypted file systems

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Sat Oct 17 21:23:01 EDT 2009

Paul Nijjar wrote, On 10/17/2009 8:29 PM:
> On Sat, Oct 17, 2009 at 04:37:46PM -0700, Raul Suarez wrote:
>> This computer is dual boot: Ubuntu 8.04 LTS / Windows XP Home  and
>> ideally he wants to be able to access the files from either OS.
> One follow up thought to this: the big barrier to having good dual-OS
> access is that I know of no decent filesystem that is fully supported
> by both Linux and Windows. Linux has some NTFS support, but I
> personally do not trust it with my data. That leaves FAT, which
> sucks in a variety of ways. 

No it doesn't. I use/d to use EXT, http://www.fs-driver.org/. I have 
dual-booted and worked away just fine.

I stopped using it as I started hammering the partitions with 
synchronizations, and I think the driver (underlying MS / Windows 
bits, actually) withers under the load. I used it for several years at 
home on multiple machines without problems, until weeks or months 
after having started the syncs these particular partitions, but not 
the drives themselves, fell over. Some sort of corruption, or slight 
damage that fsck would have fixed but subsequent reboots kept making 
the problem worse until it was unrecoverable.

There is no Windows drive check so, in fact, you have to boot Linux to 
run fsck. (And thus clear the flags.) The very act of booting Linux 
usually ran the necessary automatically.

The big advantage for me was long file names, overcoming FAT, while 
avoiding NTFS, yet gaining dual-boot / Linux availability.

I would trust my files to it, but then I back up all my files nightly, 
so even if a partition failed I'd just restore from the sync copy. 
(And in fact have done so multiple times. Due to several drive 
failures more than several file system failures.) [Currently I've gone 
back to ntfs.]

Not that this in itself solves Raul's problem, and may even get in the 
way of encryption. But probably not - in all ways the disk and files 
acted like any other disk/file. Bearing in mind that to Windows the 
partition is formatted in a foreign file system, so usual disk manager 
tools/functionality you see for FAT/NTFS isn't there. e.g. You can 
delete/create partitions, format, etc., but not check.

Raul - would a USB key work for you instead of an external drive? Two 
even, for backups? For backups, a simple script to create an encrypted 
zip or tar archive may well suit you.

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