"umsdos" vs "vfat" vs "looped ext2"

"umsdos" vs "vfat" vs "looped ext2"

Post by Robert W. Cunningha » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00



As I slowly convert disk space from Win9x vfat to Linux ext2 (by purging
unneeded Win apps and moving and converting data to equivalent Linux
apps, where they exist), I winding up with lots of free vfat space I
want to make available for use by Linux until I completely empty the
partition and can reformat.

So far my choices are these:

1. Mount the partition as vfat:

This doesn't give me the hard and soft links and permissions Linux uses,
and the naming conventions are slightly different, causing some Linux
apps to break (especially ./configure scripts and Makefiles).  But at
least I do get full access to my Win9x LFNs (Long File Names).

2. Mount the partition as umsdos:

While I get all the goodies Linux likes, I seem to lose Win9x LFNs (or,
at least the documentation doesn't say I get to KEEP them, and they
don't appear in directory listings).  This is a problem when files are
added, renamed or moved by Linux and must then be accessed by Win9x.  Is
it true that umsdos is NOT compatible with vfat, and ONLY with the msdos
filesystem type?  I suspect this is the case, but the documentation
seems to be eerily silent on the issue.  Not even a warning about it.

3. Gather up the free space as one large file (dd it from /dev/zero),
and mount it as a looped ext2 filesystem.

This will maintain the barrier between Linux and Win9x, but presently it
seems not to be possible to resize looped ext2 filesystems, which makes
the continual gathering of free space to be quite a hassle.  The list of
mounts gets huge quickly...

4. Use Partition Magic (or parted?) to move the free space between vfat
and ext2 partitions.

With this method, eventually the vfat partitions would either evaporate
entirely, or would be reduced to their irreducible minimum size (Win9x
apps I *must* keep).  This is not seem entirely practical to me, nor
does it necessarily seem to be an entirely safe thing to do.  Plus I'd
have to reboot every now and then, which would just kill my most
excellent uptime.

I wish I had a one more choice:  "uvfat", a version of umsdos that
understands and manages Win9x LFNs as well as vfat does, and provides
all the filesystem conveniences that umsdos does.  Such a project seemed
to once exist as an alpha-level patch to the 2.0.x kernel back in 1998,
but I have seen no references to it for more recent kernels.  And I
don't even know if it ever left the alpha state.

Does such a beast exist today?  If so, where is the documentation for
it?  I have scanned the entire LDP and Usenet, as well as the Web, and
have uncovered nothing of value so far.  The current source for umsdos
in the 2.2.12 kernel has, as best as I can tell, very little in common
with the vfat code.  Can (or have) the two been merged somewhere?
Anywhere?

Help?  Having something like "uvfat" would really simplify and
accelerate my transition away from Win9x.

Thanks!

-BobC