Can Linux Use the Same Hard Drive as MS-DOS? OS/2? 386BSD? Win95?
Yes. Linux uses the standard MS-DOS partitioning scheme, so it can
share your disk with other operating systems.
Linux has loadable kernel modules for (presumably) all versions of
Microsoft FAT and VFAT file systems, including Windows 2000 and
WindowsMe. In a correctly configured system, they should load
automatically when the partitions are mounted.
Note, however, that many other operating systems may not be exactly
compatible. DOS's FDISK.EXE and FORMAT.EXE, for example, can overwrite
data in a Linux partition, because they sometimes incorrectly use
partition data from the partition's boot sector rather than the
In order to prevent programs from doing this, it is a good idea to
zero out--under Linux--the start of a partition you created, before
you use MS-DOS--or whatever--to format it. Type:
$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hdXY bs=512 count=1
where hdXY is the relevant partition; e.g., /dev/hda1 for the first
partition of the first (IDE) disk.
Linux can read and write the files on your DOS and OS/2 FAT partitions
and floppies using either the DOS file system type built into the
kernel or mtools. There is kernel support for the VFAT file system
used by Windows 9x and Windows NT.
There is reportedly a GPL'd OS/2 device driver that will read and
write Linux ext2 partitions.
For information about FAT32 partition support, see
See, ("What Software does Linux Support?") for details and status of
the emulators for DOS, MS Windows, and System V programs.
See also, "Can Linux access Amiga file systems? ", "Can Linux access
Macintosh file systems? ", "Can Linux access BSD, SysV, etc., UFS? ",
and "Can Linux access SMB file systems? "
There are said to be NTFS drivers under development, which should
support compression as a standard feature.