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I am installing Ubuntu alongside Windows, choosing the dual-boot option. I do not want to do a Wubi installation. I want a full fledged installation.

I want to share files between Windows and Ubuntu.

So how can I achieve this? What steps should I remember while installing Ubuntu?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of filesystems like ext4, NTFS, and btrfs in this situation?


I have 320GB hard disk. I have only one C drive. I will be shrinking the C drive and alloting 50GB for Ubuntu and installing Ubuntu in it.

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What information have you found yourself? I mean, this is a very very common use case and there's a lot of information to stumble upon using Google or this site. Also, please keep your question limited to one question. – gertvdijk Jan 16 '13 at 18:28
We need a "how do I share files between Ubuntu and Windows dual-boot?" question. Let's edit this one to make it general. – Flimm Jan 16 '13 at 18:42
Just to let you know, if you dual boot ubuntu alongside windows then the windows partition shows up in the list of drives in ubuntu. So you can access windows drive from ubuntu. If you dont find the primary windows partition in the sidebar of nautilus(the file manager) then you can find it in root directory as `windows'. But reverse is not true, i.e., you can't access the ubuntu partition from windows, because ntfs cannot recognize ext4 or ext3 either. – Arin Chakraborty Jan 16 '13 at 19:51

Windows can read and write to NTFS and FAT, with some support for other filesystems if you install the appropriate software. Ubuntu, on the other, can read and write to ext2, ext3, ext4, NTFS, and FAT.

So that means that out-of-the-box Windows and Ubuntu only have NTFS and FAT as filesystems in common. FAT is not good enough for Ubuntu, as it doesn't keep file permissions, and it's quite old and limited any way. NTFS is also not good enough for Ubuntu. Although it supports case-sensitive filenames, it does not support UNIX-like file permissions. This rules out installing Ubuntu on an NTFS filesystem (see this question).

That just leaves these options:

  • Use the NTFS or FAT partition devoted to Windows to keep the files you want to share between Ubuntu and Windows.

  • Create a third partition formatted as NTFS with no operating system, solely devoted to storing the files you want to share between Ubuntu and Windows.

  • Install some software to allow Windows to read the filesystem used by your Ubuntu installation (such as ext4). There are several ways to do this, and none of them are straight-forward.

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When you are "shrinking the C drive", shrink it further, and create a second NTFS partition for all your data files. This "D drive" will be available in both Windows and Linux so that you can use precisely the same data files in both systems.

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