Ubuntu – Can and should UDF be used as a hard drive format


Several time recently I've seen UDF suggested as the solution to a cross platform format for a drive used on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows XP and above.

I've searched here and not found the same suggestion (most are suggesting ntfs-3g which seems to cost money and isn't preinstalled on a Mac).

So my question is: how is this done right, and has anyone done this? Have you then filled up the drive and deleted some files to make space finding that everything works like a real r/w format even though it seems to have been primarily a write once format?

Call me crazy but I'd really like it if the UDF system would also automount and be writable by the logged in user. What I've tried so far (udftools formatting as mentioned by kicsyromy) doesn't address this wish.

Best Answer

  • No.

    We're in 2015 at the time of this reply. I am using OSX Yosemite, Ubuntu 14.10, and the Windows 10 technical preview for enterprises on a Mactel machine (Macmini 7,1).

    I tried both UDF and exFat. I use Ubuntu for development and do need Unix-style permissions.

    All former guides do not apply anymore: UDF drivers have evolved and all operating systems will accept a UDF partition, with more problems and instabilities than I can name.

    • UDF drive formatted on Mac OS: can't be mounted on Windows 10.
    • UDF drive formatted on Linux: can't be mounted on Windows 10.
    • UDF drive formatted on Windows 10: mounts read/write on Linux, read-only on OSX.

    However, Windows doesn't allow you to specify a block size when formatting a UDF volume, and as a result, your logical block size might differ from the physical block size for the partition.

    I am unclear whether this has to do with the difficulties I had mounting it read/write on OSX, but after deleting a certain number of files using Linux, I was never able to mount the drive again on OSX.

    The system goes into kernel panic and crashes disgracefully.

    This, and a variety of answers on the subject, indicate inconsistent support for this format at this point.

    It would seem there are ways I can use a NTFS volume to achieve a balance between the features of a modern file system, Unix-style permissions - I might be able to set them - and read/write mount on all operating systems.

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