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I am new to Ubuntu & want to dual boot my Windows 7 laptop. I am confused as to which file system should be used for the Ubuntu drive. Some people say FAT32 is must while some say EXT4 is better. I am absolutely new to this EXT4 file format. So will a file created in Ubuntu with EXT4 open in Windows 7 with NTFS vice versa? Sorry if this is a very basic doubt. Also is EXT4 efficient than NTFS (I know that FAT32 is pathetic compared to NTFS for large sized drives).

Thank You.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It should be ext4 for Ubuntu, and ntfs for Windows. ext4 partitions cannot be read on Windows, but both ext4 and ntfs can be read and written from Ubuntu.

My suggestion would be to create native ext4 partition for Ubuntu, and store shared files on Windows ntfs partition.

Current setup for my dual boot laptop:

Partition O/S     Mount point

ext4      Ubuntu  /
ext4      Ubuntu  /home
ntfs      Windows c:
ntfs      Windows d:

As you already realized, drive D (4th partition) is shared between Ubuntu and Windows. I have added it to /etc/fstab so this partition automatically mounts to /windows folder.

NB: Since this question is not about optimal partitioning, let's skip all the talks about how to partition for Linux.

You want to keep your home directory so your ubuntu settings (.bashrc/various configs) are independent of your install, that way, if you bork your ubuntu, or ever just feel the need, you can just re-install ubuntu while keeping your settings. The reason you want another NTFS partition is because, as many people nowadays, you carry around lots of platform non-specific data (i.e.: movies,audio..etc) putting all that sort of data there enables you to get at it from either boot environment.

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Hi Andrejs Thank You for your answer. I should keep the amount of space for my Ubuntu drive allocated before installation right? & then when do I format the drive with format ext4? which application is recommended for formatting the drive to ext4 format? – Cool_Coder Apr 11 '13 at 9:39
Ubuntu installation will do this for you! Sure, you need to have a space to create partitions. Be accurate if you already have ntfs partition on your drive, and don't want to lose it. Backup! And yes, all partitions are fixed sized, including ext4, so you need to specify it's size (unless you will rely on Ubuntu installation automatic partitioning, which is ok as well). – Andrejs Cainikovs Apr 11 '13 at 9:46
I want to allocate 100GB for Ubuntu on my Laptop. What I meant was that should just keep 100GB Unallocated space & Ubuntu will give me option to format that space into a drive; or should allocate 100GB space in Windows & format that to a drive & then specify that drive while installing Ubuntu? – Cool_Coder Apr 11 '13 at 10:20
BTW why are there 2 ext4 partitions on your lalptop? & what is that Mount point & why is it different for both Partitions? & in which partition did you install Ubuntu? Thank You. – Cool_Coder Apr 11 '13 at 10:22
A lot of people like to keep a separate partition for their personal files but there is no need to /home is where your personal files are kept. Andrejs has chosen to make this a separate partition and '/' is the rest of the file system. There is no need to do this but it can make it easier to backup or when you decide to upgrade. – Warren Hill Apr 11 '13 at 12:17

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