questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

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questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

John R. Sowden
Most USB sticks seem to be formatted with FAT32, probably because  
enough ms windows users have not discovered linux yet.

Q1: can Linux permissions, ownership, group, etc. be stored in FAT32?

Q2: If I backup a linux file (.ods, for example), and later I write it
back to the linux hard drive, have I lost the ownership/permission
attributes?

Q3: I Copied a .ODS file from a USB stick to Ubuntu 16.04, and it had
permissions, ownership, group data!  What gives?

I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux
file system. Q4: Is this recommended?

Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?

Q6: what is the command to write the file system?

John



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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Robert Heller
At Mon, 19 Jun 2017 17:51:21 -0700 "Ubuntu user technical support,  not for general discussions" <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Most USB sticks seem to be formatted with FAT32, probably because  
> enough ms windows users have not discovered linux yet.

No, FAT32 has become the "universal" (read: all O/Ss can handle it) file
system.  It also has the least FS overhead.  It was also the favored FS for
external USB and Firewire disks, but most of those devices are now shipped
with NTFS, mainly because they have gotten bigger than FAT32 can handle.

>
> Q1: can Linux permissions, ownership, group, etc. be stored in FAT32?

No, not really.


>
> Q2: If I backup a linux file (.ods, for example), and later I write it
> back to the linux hard drive, have I lost the ownership/permission
> attributes?

Yes, probably.

>
> Q3: I Copied a .ODS file from a USB stick to Ubuntu 16.04, and it had
> permissions, ownership, group data!  What gives?

Not sure.  When you copy *to* a ext2/3/4, the new file will get some default
values for permissions, ownership, group data, etc.  I *think* FAT32 has some
simple permissions.  Owner/Group is "faked" -- generally every file on the
FAT32 file system gets the owner/group of the user who mounted it, depending
on how it was mounted (eg apps like the Gnome Disk Mounter panel applet will
do that).

>
> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux
> file system. Q4: Is this recommended?

I carry two 8gig thumb drives with me. One formatted FAT32 and the other ext3.
The FAT32 one will work with anyone else's computer (in case I need to
transfer a file to/from someone else's computer). The ext3 one I only use on
my machines (or sometimes with Linux boxes I manage).

>
> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?

Whatever works best for you.  Note: some file systems are "busy".  This can
cause additonal "wear".  Some things to midigate the wear include maybe not
having a journel or mounting it noatime.

>
> Q6: what is the command to write the file system?


mkfs.*:

ls /sbin/mkfs*

/sbin/mkfs
/sbin/mkfs.cramfs
/sbin/mkfs.ext2
/sbin/mkfs.ext3
/sbin/mkfs.ext4
/sbin/mkfs.ext4dev
/sbin/mkfs.msdos
/sbin/mkfs.ntfs
/sbin/mkfs.vfat

(what you will have will depend on what packages you have installed.)

Thumb drives are generally "partitioned", usually with a MS-DOS MBR with one
MS-DOS partition.  It is possible that partitularly large thumb drives might
be formatted with a NTFS file system instead of a FAT32.

>
> John
>
>
>

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Nils Kassube-2
In reply to this post by John R. Sowden
John R. Sowden wrote:
> Most USB sticks seem to be formatted with FAT32, probably because
> enough ms windows users have not discovered linux yet.

> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux
> file system. Q4: Is this recommended?
>
> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?

It depends - if you want to use the USB stick on other peoples machines
as well, you should use a file system known to Windows because there is
no ext2/3/4 fs support in Windows (AFAIK). However I wouldn't use FAT32
but NTFS because FAT32 has a file size limit of 4 GiB. If you only want
to use the USB stick with Linux, you might as well use ext2/3/4.

> Q6: what is the command to write the file system?

I prefer gparted for partitioning / formatting of disks.


Nils

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Karl Auer
On Mon, 2017-06-19 at 22:07 -0700, Nils Kassube wrote:
> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?
> It depends - if you want to use the USB stick on other peoples
> machines as well, you should use a file system known to Windows
> because there is no ext2/3/4 fs support in Windows (AFAIK). However I
> wouldn't use FAT32  but NTFS because FAT32 has a file size limit of 4
> GiB. If you only want to use the USB stick with Linux, you might as
> well use ext2/3/4.

If you don't need big files, anything except NTFS is best. NTFS is
extraordinarily easy to corrupt on Unix systems, or that's been my
experience.

Regards, K.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by John R. Sowden
Hi,

as other already pointed out, ownership and permissions aren't saved
and it's no Windows conspiracy or regarding users uninterested in Linux
that fat32 is an often used default. However, using the term "backup"
for files copied on an USB stick is a fatal mistake. This kind of media
is not safe.

If you want to preserve Linux permissions on a fat32 partitioned media,
don't "cp -a" files, instead create an archive using "tar --xattrs
-czf" (not necessarily with the "z" option, this is just an example).

If you run

  touch /tmp/test
  sudo touch /tmp/test_2

to create new empty files on your Linux partition, they automatically
get permissions with different ownerships. If you copy a file without
permissions, the same underlying mechanism creates permissions.

Note, your questions are better answered, if you learn more about
Linux and other file systems, actually "discovering Linux" and to
benefit from it's advantages and being aware of disadvantages, requires
some basic understanding, let alone that what could be an advantage for
some kind of usage, could be a disadvantage for another kind of usage.

For portability fat32 is a very good choice.

Another example, if you want to be able to easily _really_ delete data
from a HDD, the "shred" command is a useful tool, assuming you are using
a file system that allows "shred" to wipe out the data. The kind of
media also is a factor to consider when using "shred".

Regards,
Ralf

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Karl Auer
On Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:25:07 +1000, Karl Auer wrote:
>On Mon, 2017-06-19 at 22:07 -0700, Nils Kassube wrote:
>> If you only want to use the USB stick with Linux, you might as
>> well use ext2/3/4.  
>
>If you don't need big files, anything except NTFS is best. NTFS is
>extraordinarily easy to corrupt on Unix systems, or that's been my
>experience.

It's questionable, if journaling is useful at all, so IMO the only
alternative to fat32 would be ext2. Btw. if somebody wants to share an
USB stick for her Windows and Linux machines, ext file systems could be
used, too, after installing the required Windows software to access ext
file systems from Windows.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Xen
In reply to this post by Nils Kassube-2
Nils Kassube schreef op 20-06-2017 7:07:

> John R. Sowden wrote:
>> Most USB sticks seem to be formatted with FAT32, probably because
>> enough ms windows users have not discovered linux yet.
>
>> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux
>> file system. Q4: Is this recommended?
>>
>> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?
>
> It depends - if you want to use the USB stick on other peoples machines
> as well, you should use a file system known to Windows because there is
> no ext2/3/4 fs support in Windows (AFAIK). However I wouldn't use FAT32
> but NTFS because FAT32 has a file size limit of 4 GiB. If you only want
> to use the USB stick with Linux, you might as well use ext2/3/4.

No.

Use exFAT.

exFAT has support for large files and has much better write performance
than NTFS on Linux.

It is compatible with MacOS 10.6.5 too.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Liam Proven
In reply to this post by John R. Sowden
On 20 June 2017 at 02:51, John R. Sowden <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux file
> system. Q4: Is this recommended?

You can if you wish.

It won't be readable _at all_ on Windows or Mac, and you must be very
careful to always unmount and eject before removal or you risk data
corruption.

> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?

IMHO, ext2. No journalling, meaning far fewer disk writes -- better
performance and longer media life.


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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Liam Proven
In reply to this post by John R. Sowden
On 20 June 2017 at 02:51, John R. Sowden <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux file
> system. Q4: Is this recommended?

You can if you wish.

It won't be readable _at all_ on Windows or Mac, and you must be very
careful to always unmount and eject before removal or you risk data
corruption.

> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?

IMHO, ext2. No journalling, meaning far fewer disk writes -- better
performance and longer media life.


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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Xen
In reply to this post by Xen
Xen schreef op 20-06-2017 10:53:

> exFAT has support for large files and has much better write
> performance than NTFS on Linux.
>
> It is compatible with MacOS 10.6.5 too.

Also if you are going to use ext2/3/4 you are going to be running into
permission issues all the time because you can't really turn them off.

Anybody who has physical access to a machine (any machine) can access
anything on every removable medium.

Therefore permisisons hardly mean anything on a removable device.

The only way I know to clear that issue is to make everything world
writable, (777 or 666) which will mess up the shell display of
directories unless you change the colours of your shell, which is more
work.

Or, now you have to ensure that everything is group writable and that
every user needing access is part of that group, always, which is also
more work.

Then, you have to set g+s permissions so that new files are created with
the required group, and ideally you also have to set default inherited
setfacl permissions so that new files also have g+w permissions set.

Which is also more work.

And all of this to get around an unneeded feature that you can't turn
off.

However if you need symlinks then you need a Linux filesystem.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Ralf Mardorf-2
On Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:48:28 +0200, Xen wrote:
>Also if you are going to use ext2/3/4 you are going to be running into
>permission issues all the time because you can't really turn them off.

Not if the user always access the USB stick with root privileges
or possible different users share the same uid, e.g. 1000 ;).

I stay with fat for my USB sticks and never ever would use an USB stick
for a backup, but as already pointed out, a tar archive stored even on
fat solves the permission-ownership-attributes issues.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Xen
Ralf Mardorf schreef op 20-06-2017 20:09:
> On Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:48:28 +0200, Xen wrote:
>> Also if you are going to use ext2/3/4 you are going to be running into
>> permission issues all the time because you can't really turn them off.
>
> Not if the user always access the USB stick with root privileges
> or possible different users share the same uid, e.g. 1000 ;).

Yes, well, it is arguing about a rather dysfunctional thing.

I have a patch for ... it's not online. Oops.

I have a patch for the CIFS kernel module that fixes some weird bug (in
a bit of a quick and dirty way) in that sometimes even if you have group
access (locally) to some SMB mount the CIFS module will refuse you write
access. The reason for this was that the "noperm" mode makes the mount
world-accessible which may be a bit too much; but without it you may run
into that bug where you try to use groups for the same purpose, but it
doesn't work.

So I introduced a "nogperm" mode where the module skips doing any access
checks (locally) as soon as you are part of the group that owns the
file.

For some reason as soon as this is done, the local check succeeds (is
granted) at which point the CIFS permissions at the server then become
'accessible' and usually this means that the user that is logged into
the (Samba) server is then used to check access credentials on the
server.

This is not ideal for multi-user but Linux group permissions are rather
difficult (there is no group hierarchy) so it may allow someone to
access files owned by others (when Unix permissions are used on CIFS)
when the local user is part of the group that owns those files.

So if the server is multi-user and you are using unix mode, which means
you will see remote ownership, and remotely you are part of the group,
and remotely you have write access, and locally you are also part of the
group, there is a bug that will prevent you from actually acting on it.

The local unix permissions check does not succeed. I could not figure
out why so I just circumvented it :p.

If you are part of the remote group (locally) then the permission check
is circumvented and the server is authoritative.

So it is really meant for a single user (local) system, in that sense.



I am just saying that I have done enough battling with permissions ;-).


> I stay with fat for my USB sticks and never ever would use an USB stick
> for a backup, but as already pointed out, a tar archive stored even on
> fat solves the permission-ownership-attributes issues.

Yes.

Agreed.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Doug McGarrett
In reply to this post by Liam Proven

On 06/20/2017 04:19 AM, Liam Proven wrote:

> On 20 June 2017 at 02:51, John R. Sowden <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux file
>> system. Q4: Is this recommended?
> You can if you wish.
>
> It won't be readable _at all_ on Windows or Mac, and you must be very
> careful to always unmount and eject before removal or you risk data
> corruption.
>
>> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?
> IMHO, ext2. No journalling, meaning far fewer disk writes -- better
> performance and longer media life.
>
>
Would you say that one should not use a journaling file system on a
solid-state drive, for that reason?

--doug

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Robert Heller
At Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:17:15 -0500 "Ubuntu user technical support,  not for general discussions" <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>
> On 06/20/2017 04:19 AM, Liam Proven wrote:
> > On 20 June 2017 at 02:51, John R. Sowden <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux file
> >> system. Q4: Is this recommended?
> > You can if you wish.
> >
> > It won't be readable _at all_ on Windows or Mac, and you must be very
> > careful to always unmount and eject before removal or you risk data
> > corruption.
> >
> >> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?
> > IMHO, ext2. No journalling, meaning far fewer disk writes -- better
> > performance and longer media life.
> >
> >
> Would you say that one should not use a journaling file system on a
> solid-state drive, for that reason?

SSDs are better designed for "heavy wear" (many more "writes") than thumb
drives.   Thumb drives are intended for "occasional" use, where SSDs are
intended for "continious", long term use.

>
> --doug
>

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Xen
Robert Heller schreef op 20-06-2017 23:39:

> At Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:17:15 -0500 "Ubuntu user technical support,
> not for general discussions" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> On 06/20/2017 04:19 AM, Liam Proven wrote:
>> > On 20 June 2017 at 02:51, John R. Sowden <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> >> I use Lijnux primarily, so I want to format the USB sticks to a Linux file
>> >> system. Q4: Is this recommended?
>> > You can if you wish.
>> >
>> > It won't be readable _at all_ on Windows or Mac, and you must be very
>> > careful to always unmount and eject before removal or you risk data
>> > corruption.
>> >
>> >> Q5: Which is the best file system for USB sticks?
>> > IMHO, ext2. No journalling, meaning far fewer disk writes -- better
>> > performance and longer media life.
>> >
>> >
>> Would you say that one should not use a journaling file system on a
>> solid-state drive, for that reason?
>
> SSDs are better designed for "heavy wear" (many more "writes") than
> thumb
> drives.   Thumb drives are intended for "occasional" use, where SSDs
> are
> intended for "continious", long term use.

People recommend the "noatime" mount option to reduce metadata updates
to SSDs. All SSDs are subject to wear.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Karl Auer
In this thread, and this thread only, I am getting every message twice.

Weird.

Regards, K.

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

David Fletcher-5
On Wed, 2017-06-21 at 08:20 +1000, Karl Auer wrote:
> In this thread, and this thread only, I am getting every message
> twice.

Same with me. I thought it was odd too.

D

>
> Weird.
>
> Regards, K.
>
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>
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>
>
>

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Doug McGarrett
In reply to this post by Karl Auer

On 06/20/2017 05:20 PM, Karl Auer wrote:
> In this thread, and this thread only, I am getting every message twice.
>
> Weird.
>
> Regards, K.
>
You're not the only one!

--doug

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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

John R. Sowden
me too including the first one (I'm the op).  When I just went to send
it, I saw 1 address to tge mailing list and one to a newsgroup.  I just
deleted the newsgroup-let's see what happens.

John



On 06/20/2017 03:43 PM, Doug wrote:

>
> On 06/20/2017 05:20 PM, Karl Auer wrote:
>> In this thread, and this thread only, I am getting every message twice.
>>
>> Weird.
>>
>> Regards, K.
>>
> You're not the only one!
>
> --doug
>



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Re: questions re: usb drive. fat32, linux file system

Ralf Mardorf-2
In reply to this post by Xen
On Tue, 20 Jun 2017 23:56:18 +0200, Xen wrote:
>People recommend the "noatime" mount option to reduce metadata updates
>to SSDs. All SSDs are subject to wear.

That's idiotic. It's like buying a car and to park it, to avoid the
side effects of driving. I'm using my SSD and if I've got a car, I'm
using it, too.

Back to the original question, independent of wearing, journaling makes
no sense for USB sticks. That's an odd idea, you also wouldn't think
about an USB stick RAID. Would you?

I'm not sure if "sherd" works for USB sticks, even when using a file
system without journaling, but if it should work, then just for a fle
system without journaling.

The purpose of USB sticks is completely different to media such as HDDs
or SSDs.

Apart from durability, an USB stick it something to take with you in
your pocket, so encryption, shred alike deletion, costs and especially
portabillity are more important than tricky permissions to "backup"
data.

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Votes: 70                         Updated: Wed Jun 21 07:12:05 CEST 2017


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