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I was in the process of installing Ubuntu 11.10, but got stuck choosing which file system to use.

ext3 and ext4; which is better for a personal desktop?

If ext4 is better, will it work well on my old PC (bought 3 years ago), or perhaps ext4 is not actually compatible with an old hard disk?

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migrated from Jul 7 '11 at 14:59

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Check out my post from a while back. ext4 is a great filesystem and I definately recommend you use it for your laptop.

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Great, if ubuntu default to ext4, then no hesitation to use it! thanks! – asunnysunday Jul 7 '11 at 15:22
Exactly :) Choosing a filesystem is an issue a lot of new linux people have. Happy you've made a choice. – n0pe Jul 7 '11 at 15:24

Asking "Will ext4 work with my harddisk" is similar to asking "Will this font work with my paper?". Any normal harddisk (or SSD) is essentially a very large blank sleet. Ext3 and ext4 are ways in which Linux divides that large blank sheet in smaller parts, for individual files. Like fonts, within reasonable bounds you can use any file system with any harddisk. Sure, you can't use a 1000 point font on a business card, or Ext1 on a modern harddisk, but Linux is offering reasonable defaults here.

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If you know that after extensive tests, Google had decided to switch from ext2 to ext4, skipping ext3, because of its advancements such as speed, reliability... then you know what to choose for your own.

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Ext3 is starting to get old as far as features and performance are concerned, but there is a one huge upside to maturity: stability. If you intend to keep the system around for a long time, or store important files on it, I'd go with ext3. I'm not saying that ext4 is unstable, I'm only saying that ext3 is really really freakishly stable ;)

If you're just a regular desktop user, it really doesn't matter, because caching will have WAY more impact on performance than any internal structures. The only big win for ext4 is when you're intending to store lots of large files, then you want to format your partition with ext4 with extents. Another big win for ext4 is if you're forced to store large (>32000) files per directory.

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ext4 is 'better', usually faster, more future proof. Your hardware has got nothing to do with that.

If you 'suck at choosing' or 'really get confused', then just don't sweat it and go with the default.

my $0.02

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Thanks!But if my memory isn't wrong, the default for Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 is ext3? – asunnysunday Jul 7 '11 at 15:09
Yes your memory is wrong: Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (and later) had ext4 by default – sehe Jul 7 '11 at 15:20

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