What’s a good choice for a general-purpose “non-advanced” filesystem with Linux R/W and Windows/BSD R/O support?

I’d like advice and recomendations as to what filesystem would be ideal for me to use for a 320GB HDD that will replace what appears to be an aging/failing 250GB one.

Ideally, I’d like something I can at least /read/ from Windows/BSD, but the disk itself will ultimately be being used in a Linux system.

Looking at what’s available, and doing a bit of asking around, I’ve variously heard that exFAT is not the most reliable on Linux (and, like FAT32, you lose the whole “any character except ‘/’ and NUL for filenames), Btrfs randomly regresses and causes kernel panics, UFS and Linux don’t really like each other, and ZFS’s metadata/management overhead makes it feel like the data is passing through molasses.

Of course all the filesystems mentioned have impressive pro-points, but when the rubber meets the road, I’m obviously looking for reasons I might wake up one day to find my filesystem in more pieces than I left it in the previous night.

Right now I’m considering ext3, ext4 and ZFS.

I use ext4 for my /; it seems quite fast (it fscks literally in realtime, it’s amazing), it of course “just works,” and requires practically zero configuration. It’s really awesome and exactly what I want. However, it seems that FreeBSD doesn’t really support ext4… ???

ext3 doesn’t have the fast fsck features of ext4, but it seems to have slightly more general access/read support from FreeBSD and Windows (the latter via Ext2fsd).

ZFS is an interesting-sounding alternative because, at the end of the day, this is just a little 320GB archival HDD I don’t need amazing read speed from, I’ve heard you can read it from Windows, and BSD supports it natively. I’m not entirely sure about the metadata thing though, apparently virtualized access to it can be iffy, and I don’t completely get how ZFS on Linux works as a “thing”. I’ve also heard that it requires a decent gob of RAM to run happily, which the host system running the disk definitely doesn’t have.

Based on my current analyses, ext3 looks like exactly what I’m looking for, but I’m throwing my situation out there in case there’s a solution that nails my requirements better than what I’ve found as yet.

Suggestions/advice/thoughts appreciated! Thanks.


If you can work within the constraints, vfat (fat32) may actually be the most compatible.

Source : Link , Question Author : i336_ , Answer Author : Dan Armstrong

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