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I need a working partition configuration for use and accessibility on both Ubuntu and Windows. I have an 8GB USB flash drive onto which I am installing Ubuntu 11.10 so that I can have a personal bootable OS wherever I go. I've installed Ubuntu several times, but I just can't seem to get this one partition right. This is my own configuration:

  • Partition 1: Primary - 200MB - Beginning - Ext4 - /boot
  • Partition 2: Primary - 1300MB - End - swap area
  • Partition 3: Logical - 5200MB - Beginning - Ext4 - /
  • Partition 4: Logical - 1258MB - Beginning - Ext4 - /home
  • Partition 5: Logical - 42MB - End - FAT32? - /windows?

What I want to do is to get partition 5 configured so I can access it on both the installed Ubuntu system and a Windows system (when the USB drive is connected while Windows is booted).

Basically, what I want is Ubuntu installed on the USB drive along with a partition that I can access with other operating systems.

I'm thinking I just need the technical configuration of "Use as:" and "Mount point:" for my final partition. But I don't know. Any help with this is appreciated. And any other tips are appreciated as well.

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You might not want to bother creating a separate partition for both Ubuntu and Windows to access, since Ubuntu can (and for years has been able to) safely and effectively read and write NTFS partitions. You could just store shared files in the Windows system.

However, if you want to create a shared partition, then NTFS is a reasonable choice for filesystem type. You could use FAT32, but then you wouldn't be able to store files larger than 4 GiB in size, as well as suffering from numerous other limitations compared to a more modern filesystem.

You don't need to specify the partition when you're installing Ubuntu--you can just mount it dynamically when you need it, by clicking on its volume name in the list of mountable volumes in the left pane of any Nautilus (i.e., file browser) window. However, if you want it to be mounted statically, choose whatever mount point you like. Even though /media was originally for removable media, "new tradition" has given it the expanded meaning of being the place where any volume that doesn't provide an important system directory (like /boot or /home) gets mounted. So if you wanted you could mount it at /media/windows or /media/name where name is replaced by the actual volume name of the volume in Windows.

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So what, exactly, would NTFS be called under "Use as:"? – Confuzzled Persun Nov 13 '11 at 3:37
Use as: is for the mount point, not the filesystem type. Specify a filesystem type of NTFS. Then you can either leave Use as: blank (for dynamic mounting), or you can make it whatever mount point you want (like /media/windows, as in the above example). – Eliah Kagan Nov 13 '11 at 3:40
How do I specify the NTFS filesystem? I don't see anything for this in the Ubuntu installation software. There is "Type...", "Size...", "Location...", "Use as...", and "Mount point..." for determining the partition, but I don't see anything about NTFS. – Confuzzled Persun Nov 13 '11 at 3:53
I don't see the benefit of NTFS in a 42MB partition that sits in a 8GB USB drive in which more than 5GB is taken up by Ubuntu. How will @ConfuzzledPersun fit in a greater than 4GB file in that NTFS partition? I agree that for such a small Ubuntu system there is no point in creating /boot and /home as separate partition. A single / partition will work better lesser probability of running out of disk space. I have had trouble in reading FAT32 partition that is not the first primary partition in an USB in Windows machines. Why not make the first partition for sharing files with Windows? – user68186 Jun 28 '13 at 18:26

The 'Use as...' configuration is only relevant for Ubuntu, and is completely irrelevant for Windows. As long as the file system is supported (FAT32, NTFS), Windows shouldn't have any problems accessing it. As for the mount point, /windows in your example above, either leave it blank, or move it into /media, (/media/windows). That's also only relevant for Ubuntu.

I'd also advise skipping the separate boot and home.

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Format partition 5 as NFTS (The filesystem Windows uses). I recommend you name it /storage to avoid confusion, but this is not necessary. Once you boot your computer, both Windows and Ubuntu will recognize the partition and you will be able to mount it.

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