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I tried googling this problem but I haven't received a definitive answer.

This is my situation, I have a 3TB external hard drive connected to my server via esata. I plan on sharing this drive over a network using samba. The hard drive is formatted in ext4 but I need a windows machine to be able to read and write to it over the network to access files, make backups and general storage.

I chose ext4 because I heard ntfs-3g has a ton of latency when accessing drives and I like how I can move files while I'm using them.

Is this possible or will I have to install some program to at least read the drive?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is certainly possible. To my knowledge, Samba doesn't care what file system you're using, just so long as you can read it and mount it. If you setup a Samba share that points to a directory on your esata drive, windows machines will be able to view it without ever having to know that it's formatted ext4.

edit: To provide more information, modifying your /etc/samba/smb.conf is how you would go about creating a share for your esata drive.

As an example, here is a relevant entry in my smb.conf:

   comment = 4TB Raid5
   path = /mnt/raid
   public = yes
   writable = yes
   create mask = 0777
   directory mask = 0777
   force user = nobody
   force group = nogroup

That will create a share named raid that points to the directory /mnt/raid. It doesn't require a username/password, and it's writable.

After making those changes, use sudo service smbd restart to restart the samba server.

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Thank you for answering! Will a windows machine be able to write to it over the network or can it only read the share? – brievolz84 Nov 8 '12 at 2:15
From what I can remember, on my server, I could read and write on the share from Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I think samba turns it into a "sambafs", so it's not seen as "ext4" anymore. – kroq-gar78 Nov 8 '12 at 2:22
If you set the share to allow writing, then it can write to it. I.E. if you have writable = yes in your share's entry inside of /etc/samba/smb.conf, then clients will be able to write to it. That's assuming permissions are set for the target directory of course. – smskelley Nov 8 '12 at 2:22
OK thanks, consider this solved or answered (don't know how to do that to this thread) – brievolz84 Nov 8 '12 at 2:27
I included more information in my original answer to get you started. To mark this as solved, you would accept the answer (If I recall, there should be a button for that below the up vote/down vote options.) – smskelley Nov 8 '12 at 2:31

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