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Which file system to use in between OSX and Linux

I'm replacing the optical drive on a Macbook with an HDD and plan to use half of the new drive for Linux. The other half I want to use for storage that both Linux and Mac OS should be able to access.

Which filesystem do you recommend I use?

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marked as duplicate by slhck, Dennis, RedGrittyBrick, Canadian Luke, Nifle May 29 '12 at 20:11

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

OSX supports (for read/write access without special workarounds)

  • HFS plus
  • UFS
  • FAT-32
  • FAT-16

Linux supports FAT-32 and FAT-16. It's support for UFS seems less than universal (or perhaps UFS varies somewhat between other operating systems implementations). I believe Linux also supports HFS plus but you must disable journalling and there may be other problems.

Therefore I would use FAT-32

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I wouldn't use fat32 because it is not case sensitive. Both OSX and linux are. This can cause conflicts. – Yitzchak May 29 '12 at 14:05
@Yitzchak: That is a good point, FAT32 isn't a first-class filesystem, even on operating systems which have first-class support for it. From your and slhk's answers, oivvio should see that there are finely balanced tradeoffs. – RedGrittyBrick May 29 '12 at 14:17
@RedGrittyBrick - There a reason you are attacking a perfectly good filesystem? Fat32 not being case sensitive is a valid reason NOT to use it, in a network Linux/Unix solution, really depends on usage. FAT32 was a perfectly valid filesystem at one time. – Ramhound May 29 '12 at 14:44
It's still case preserving. The os will detect if it is case sensitive or not – Canadian Luke May 29 '12 at 15:27
@Ramhound: I'm not "attacking" FAT32 (in my answer I'm suggesting it be used!), I'm saying it lacks useful features commonly found in other current filesystems (such as journalling, fragmentation-resistance and other performance-features). – RedGrittyBrick May 29 '12 at 16:42

I assume that when you say "access" you mean both r/w and you probably want to be able to set permissions and do everything else you can do on your regular HDD.
Linux supports more file systems than OSX, but there is a smaller overlap than you would think.

The file systems OSX "officially" supports are:
UFS HFS+ FAT 16 and 32

Linux is not really compatible with UFS. While it is compatible with HFS+ you have to sacrifice stability for it. FAT32 is not case sensitive which is a day-to-day user-level problem for OSX and linux users who are used to it being case sensitive. It also lacks a number of features that modern file systems have like symbolic links and journaling.
I'd recommend ext3. That is the default file system for quite a few linux distros for a while and is compatible with OSX as well.

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Is ext3 support native to standard OSX now? (Otherwise I personally would hesitate to count it as "first class support". YMMV) – RedGrittyBrick May 29 '12 at 14:12
I've used an ext3 formatted drive as my time machine backup disk without having to do anything "funky" – Yitzchak May 29 '12 at 15:29

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