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For almost all linux distros I came across, it seems to prefer 'ExtFS' file system for the installation drive. Why does it not go for NTFS ?

Obviously, everyone has their own taste and style and more suitable environment to be at optimal whilst performing. But coming from windows, it does seem new.

I want to know what are the benefits of 'ExtFS' over 'NTFS' ?

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  • NTFS is a proprietary file system for Windows only. Oct 12, 2016 at 10:10
  • Because anyone would get sued by Microsoft. Besides that: microsoft creates lousy filesystems.
    – Rinzwind
    Oct 12, 2016 at 10:28
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    What makes you think the Linux distros should use a proprietary, partially obscure file system that doesn't even fit very well with how UNIX systems work? I don't get the point of this question. Oct 12, 2016 at 11:21
  • NTFS stands for New Technology File System. It was specifically built for Windows NT, without any other OS in mind. Linux doesn't "prefer" NTFS, because it's not built for anything but Windows. Oct 12, 2016 at 11:58
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    For almost all Windows version I came across, it seems to prefer 'NTFS' file system for the installation drive. Why does it not go for ExtFS?
    – marcelm
    Oct 12, 2016 at 13:04

3 Answers 3

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NTFS doesn’t support some features that are important for Linux, like Unix-style file permissions and symlinks. It can't be used for most parts of a Linux system.

Microsoft doesn’t support the creation of a NTFS driver for Linux. The current driver is largely made by reverse engineering and doesn't support all NTFS features.

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The preference isn't about a subjective or theoretical EXT vs NTFS, just as this isn't about Linux's native EXT implementation against Microsoft's native NTFS implementation. It's about Linux-mainline EXT vs the NTFS-3G driver.

That's the choice these installers are making. And that's why they always pick the native version.

Ext is more mature in Linux. It has had powers more people testing it under Linux. It has more people working on it (being part of Linux itself, rather than a third-party driver). And developments to the EXT standard happen in Linux, not another operating system first.

There are technical reasons too. Historically there have been some limitations around what NTFS-3G can do. The permission system is subtly different. The users are different. ACL support is different. These are all things that would bias you towards another filesystem that did support all those things in the way you were expecting them to work.

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Linux is free open source software. As such you find manufacturers such as Apple, Microsoft and Google will take that code and develop it for their own platforms.

On Linux the ext file system was created in April 1992. On Windows the ntfs file system was created in 1993. Some would say Microsoft Engineers could have looked at Linux systems as a model for their own code. I'm not saying that though :)

Linux can read and write ntfs file systems but it is not a native file system and performance would be sub-standard in many instances. Plus you may have problems with permissions.

Anyway when using Ubuntu the best choice for the average user is ext4 (the fourth extended file system).

HTH (Hope This Helps)

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  • 1
    What is HTH ?
    – Mark Kirby
    Oct 12, 2016 at 11:10
  • @MarkKirby Sorry didn't mean to invent a new file system called HTH. It stands for Hope This Helps and I updated the answer for clarity. Oct 12, 2016 at 11:42
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    Ahhh, fair enough but you know someone is just going to edit that out, right? It is superfluous information and you know how people love to edit that stuff :)
    – Mark Kirby
    Oct 12, 2016 at 11:49
  • Permissions is actually the other way around. NTFS supports fine-grained access control, with more operations (such as delete) controlled and multiple users and groups per secured object. In addition, they can be inherited (i.e. directory to subdirectory to file). ExtFS has just one owner, one group, and read-write-execute bits.
    – MSalters
    Oct 12, 2016 at 12:47
  • @MSalters I had suffixed that sentence with (I Believe) and I should have left it out. I'll edit the answer and delete that sentence. I don't use security on my laptop and have been mystified by all these chroot 700, 755, 600, blah blah people often refer to in linux. Thank you for correcting my mis-belief. Oct 12, 2016 at 23:30

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