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I intend to use an NTFS partition as the home directory for an Ubuntu installation, will that work?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

That sounds like a bad idea. Yes you can, but you should realize that NTFS support in linux comes with this caveat:

Due to the complexity of internal NTFS structures, both the built-in 2.6.14 kernel driver and the FUSE drivers disallow changes to the volume that are considered unsafe, to avoid corruption.

which is partly due to:

Details on the implementation's internals are not released, which makes it difficult for third-party vendors to provide tools to handle NTFS.

I mount an NTFS volume on linux, and I've had a problem in the past when the filesystem would not mount properly on linux, even with the -f (force) option. I had to finally attach it to a Windows machine and boot up into Windows, which fixed it.

If you absolutely need a native Windows-readable filesystem for /home, my preference would be to format it as fat32 instead. Despite its limitations, it has better support on linux.

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this is a bad idea. ntfs and fat32 don't have any way to store permissions the way ext2/3/4 and other linux filesystems do – knittl May 16 '10 at 15:52
@knittl NTFS has, but FAT32 has not. – user877329 Aug 26 '13 at 10:14
@user877329 NTFS has, but its permissions are hard to match with UNIX permissions. You have to do some special actions to make them work with e.g. ntfs-3g. – Ruslan May 21 at 16:59

Even moving files between Linux filesystems and fat32/ntfs causes lots of warnings about permissions and ownerships. You'll definitely have problems with an ntfs /home. First thing that won't work will be ~/.ssh, .netrc and other files/directories with restricted permissions. Other programs will definitely have errors when they cannot change the permissions on configuration files. (dotfiles)

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You can, but you will have real trouble as many applications will assume non-Microsoft filesystem conventions, e.g. case-sensitivity. You are likely better off installing something like Ext2IFS on a Windows machine to read ext* partitions instead.

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ntfs has case sensivity. – vava Aug 31 '09 at 12:28

You can use:

mount --bind

This will make whatever is saved in one directory be saved elsewhere. For me, this was because my main storage was NTFS as it had to be readable in Windows 7. In /etc/fstab, I mounted the NTFS partition as normal, done for me by Ubuntu 11.04:

# /windows was on /dev/sda3 during installation
UUID=FC843ED0843E8D60 /windows        ntfs    defaults,umask=007,gid=46 0      $

I then set the base storage folders to save there instead:

# make /home/shawn/"folders" point to /windows/shawn/"folders"
/home/shawn/Documents/   /windows/shawn/Documents/ none    bind  0  0
/home/shawn/Downloads/   /windows/shawn/Downloads/ none    bind  0  0
/home/shawn/Pictures/   /windows/shawn/Pictures/ none    bind  0  0
/home/shawn/Videos/   /windows/shawn/Videos/ none    bind  0  0
/home/shawn/Music/   /windows/shawn/Music/ none    bind  0  0

This is all in /etc/fstab so it gets reapplied on boot.

NTFS does not have the same permissions as ext4 or such, so I would suggest only using this for those files that are not sensitive.

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you might also try linking your "Documents" "Pictures" and "Music" to folders on the NTFS if you merely want to be able to share basic user data. That has worked great on computers I have setup to dual boot for friends.

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I'm currently storing the sub-folders of my home (e.g. ~/Documents, ~/Music) on an NTFS filesystem and it appears to be working fine.

As an example, here's how to host your ~/Documents folder on an NTFS partition. First make sure you have the NTFS partition set to automount so it's accessible to the system on boot. Move any files you need to keep out of ~/Documents and over to the corresponding NTFS-partition folder (i.e. /mnt/winblows/Users/Username/Documents). Now delete the Documents folder in your home directory and create a link to that NTFS folder in its place named Documents.

Note: You might have to make ensure your ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs is in sync with the folder locations you've chosen (I did). See this answer for more details.

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