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Have an old laptop with Windows XP Pro and a new one with Linux Mint 13 LTS.

I want to transfer my personal files from the old machine to the new one. Firstly I thought using crossover cable but I don't have one and instead of this I have two drive bays on the old machine. So, I can mount the HDD from the new laptop to the old one and just copy the files from one HDD to another. (On the new laptop I'm using an SSD for the OS, so the HDD has just two partitions - one for swap and one for data storage.)

The problem is that the HDD from the new laptop is formatted as ext4 and I'm not sure whether I could write to it from Windows XP.

Any ideas if it would work?

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You shouldn't need a crossover cable if one of your systems is gig-e capable, a regular HDD would do. Otherwise ext2fsd should let you write to the ext drive from XP - it just seems a little clunky to move a drive around physically to me.

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I will do this only once so it wouldn't be a problem. Also the new ThinkPads are easy to change this type of hardware and the warranty is not canceled for changing HDD, RAM, WiFi Card etc. The second bay on the old Toshiba is empty also. So it will be a 2 min work to move the drive. Will try with ext2fsd or ext2read later today. – enenen Aug 16 '13 at 8:49

ext2IFS does NOT support ext4. It only supports reading and writing to ext2 and ext3 file-systems and not reliably either.

If you have two harddrive bays, just boot the Linux Mint harddrive, it should still function (unlike moving a Windows install to another machine) - Linux can read and write to ntfs with the fuse module (which Mint has "out-of-the-box").

If you have trouble getting your BIOS to boot the Mint install then use a Linux LiveCD (puppy, mint, gparted, etc. are all good candidates to do this)

Alternatively you can get a SATA -> USB adapter for less than $10.

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Linux Mint is on a SSD, the HDD is nearly empty - no OS there. The old laptop doesn't support booting from USB. I found this: instead of ext2IFS. It says that it can read ext4. Probably will try with it... – enenen Aug 16 '13 at 8:18

The easy solution that I can see is to mount both drives in the old laptop (as it has two drive bays), then boot from a Linux installation or live CD (there are USB live Linux distributions out there, too; try a search engine). Use it to copy the files from the old laptop's drive to the new one.

Otherwise a PATA/SATA to USB adapter seems a reasonable choice, as it will allow you to conveniently use the old drive with the new laptop and copy files basically at your leisure.

According to Wikipedia, there are no available drivers that provide full read and write compatibility with Windows although there are a few alternatives that can work if you don't use extents. Whether those work with nearly twelve years old Windows XP is another matter.

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