3. Compatibility with Other Operating Systems

Q: Can Linux Use the Same Hard Drive as MS-DOS? OS/2? 386BSD? Win95?
Q: How Do I Access Files on a MS-DOS Partition or Floppy?
Q: Does Linux Support Compressed Ext2 File Systems?
Q: Can Linux Use Stacked/DBLSPC/Etc. DOS Drives?
Q: Can Linux Access OS/2 HPFS Partitions?
Q: Can Linux Access Amiga File Systems?
Q: Can Linux Access BSD, SysV, Etc. UFS?
Q: Can Linux Access SMB File Systems?
Q: Can Linux Access Macintosh File Systems?
Q: Can Linux Run Microsoft Windows Programs?
Q: Where Is Information about NFS Compatibility?
Q: Can Linux Use True Type Fonts?
Q: Can Linux Boot from MS-DOS?
Q: How Can Linux Boot from OS/2's Boot Manager?

A: Yes. Linux supports many, many filesystems, including the standard MS-DOS partitioning scheme, so it can share your disk with other operating systems.

Linux supports all known versions of the Microsoft FAT and VFAT file systems, including those used by Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows ME through loadable kernel modules. 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 partition table.

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 reportedly a GPL'd OS/2 device driver that will read and write Linux ext2 partitions.

For information about FAT32 partition support, see http://bmrc.berkeley.edu/people/chaffee/fat32.html.

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.

A: The ext2compr project provides a kernel patch Information about them is located at http://e2ompr.memalpha.cx/e2compr/.

There is also a Web site for the e2compr patches. The code is still experimental and consists of patches for the 2.0 and 2.1 kernels. For more information about the project, including the latest patches, and the address of the mailing list, look up the URL at http://debs.fuller.edu/e2compr/.

[Roderich Schupp, Peter Moulder]

A: zlibc is a program that allows existing applications to read compressed (GNU gzip'ed) files as if they were not compressed. Look at ftp://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/libs/. The author is Alain Knaff.

A: There is also a compressing block device driver, "DouBle," by Jean-Marc Verbavatz, which can provide on-the-fly disk compression in the kernel. The source-only distribution is located at ftp://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/patches/diskdrives/. This driver compresses inodes and directory information as well as files, so any corruption of the file system is likely to be serious.

A: There is also a package called tcx (Transparently Compressed Executables), which allows you to keep infrequently used executables compressed and only uncompress them temporarily when in use. It is located at ftp://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/utils/compress/.

A: The Linux kernel has support for the Amiga Fast File System (AFFS) version 1.3 and later, both as a compile-time option and as a module. The file [Documentation/filesystems/affs.txt] in the Linux kernel source distribution has more information.

See (``How To Upgrade/Recompile a Kernel'')

Linux supports AFFS hard-drive partitions only. Floppy access is not supported due to incompatibilities between Amiga floppy controllers and PC and workstation controllers. The AFFS driver can also mount disk partitions used by the Un*x Amiga Emulator, by Bernd Schmidt.

A: Linux supports read/write access of Windows for Workgroups and Windows NT SMB volumes. See the file Documentation/filesystems/smbfs.txt of the Linux kernel source distribution, and (``How To Upgrade/Recompile a Kernel'')

There is also a suite of programs called Samba which provide support for WfW networked file systems (provided they're for TCP/IP). Information is available in the [README] file at metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/system/network/samba/.

The SMB Web site is http://www.samba.org, and there is also a Web site at samba.anu.edu.au/samba/.

A: This information is partly taken from Nicolai Langfeldt's excellent NFS HOWTO, and is current as of 10/1/1999:

Most version 2.2.x kernels need a set of patches to install the knfsd subsystem, maintained by H.J. Lu, to communicate efficiently (if at all) with Sparc, IBM RS, and Alpha machines, and probably others. This package is actually a collection of patches to the kernel sources. Better support for non-Intel architectures is included in the 2.4 kernels.

There is also a user-space server. Although it lacks remote file locking, it is easier to install. It may be equally efficient.

In the [Documentation/Changes] of recent kernel distributions, there is a list of URL's for both the knfsd server and the user-space server.

There is a CVS server available for the kernel-space NFS subsystem, as well as a NFS WWW page at http://www.linuxnfs.sourceforge.org, although the URL requires a password for access. The relevant URL's are listed in the [README.nfs] file at ftp://ftp.us.kernel.org, and other kernel archive sites, along with login information. Patches are at ftp://ftp.varesearch.com/pub/kernel/latest/patches/.

The source archives of the user-space server and utilities currently reside on ftp://linux.mathematik.tu-darmstadt.de:/pub/linux/people/okir/.

In the case of older Solaris releases, the lack of statd or lockd on a client or server machine may cause incompatibility. On some versions of Solaris, statd can be used to exploit features of the automounter. Sun released a patch to correct this, but statd still needs to be started by root on such systems. On recent Solaris systems, refer to the information in /etc/dfs/dfstab and the share(1M) manual page to enable volume sharing. In addition, the rpcinfo program can tell you if statd or lockd are available on the local or remote machines.

The linux-kernel mailing list has on-and-off discussions of the status of the NFS subsystem, which appears to be changing rapidly.

[Nicolai Langfeldt, Robert Kiesling, Anders Hammarquist]

A: Another True Type font server is xfstt

A: People have reported success with other True Type font servers. There are links from the xfsft Home Page to them as well.

A: You can also compile True Type Font support into your X server directly. Again, refer to the xfsft Home Page for details.