You asked us ...
And we answered ...
What is Win2fs ?
Simply put, Win2fs is a Windows® utility which aims at providing access to Linux Ext2 file systems on Windows (which are not supported 'Out of the box' by
Microsoft® Windows) as though they are normal
Windows file systems.
Specifically, Win2fs is an Ext2 file system driver for Windows along with its associated user interfaces which together can be used to
mount Linux Ext2 file systems on Microsoft Windows family of operating systems.
Is Win2fs free ?
Yes, Win2fs is being distributed under the GNU General Public License and is free of cost. In fact, users are encouraged to freely distribute
and use Win2fs.
Who maintains Win2fs ?
Initially, Win2fs was started as a university project by a band of students from
South India. Right now, it is actively supported and
maintained by me - Satish kumar Janarthanan with support from netizens all over the world.
Where do I download Win2fs ?
All releases and other downloadable components are just a click away at the downloads page of this web site.
Is the source code available for download too ?
Yes ! You can download them from the same place as the binaries.
How do I Install/Uninstall Win2fs ?
Download the latest release from the downloads page. Run the installer program and follow the instructions to complete installing Win2fs.
In case you wish to remove Win2fs (which we hope is a rare occurrence), first
make sure you have un-mounted all your Linux partitions mounted through Win2fs.
Restart your machine once and then use the Add/Remove programs applet from the
Control Panel to uninstall Win2fs.
How do I mount/un-mount my ext2 file systems ?
Run the Win2fs program. To do this in Windows 2000, open Control Panel and click on the Win2fs shortcut.
Make sure all your file systems are properly listed. Select the Ext2 file system you want to
mount or un-mount.
Click on the Mount (Unmount) button.
How do I format my mounted ext2 volume ?
You can do this by using the 'Format' button on the 'Win2fs' property page
of that drive. The drive should have been mounted with write support for this
option to be enabled. Please note that this feature is still under active
development and hence you may face some as yet unknown bugs.
Does Win2fs provide a clone of the e2fsck (Linux equivalent
of Scandisk) program ?
Yes, Win2fs does provide (albeit being a little primitive) version of the
e2fsck program. You can use the 'Check' button on the 'Win2fs' property page of
that drive to do a disk check. If the volume was mounted with write ability,
Win2fs can optionally fix the errors it encountered. Please note that this
feature is still under active development and hence you may face some as yet
I am not an administrator on my machine, how do I use
You cannot ! Win2fs relies so heavily on super user functions, that using it
as a normal user is just too hard. Given that Win2fs is targeted at home users
and users who have a single computer with both Linux and Windows installed side
by side, this shouldn't be a major problem. You can work around this by either
using the "Run as" feature of Windows 2000 or better still have an
administrator mount the partitions and instruct Win2fs to preserve the
associations. That way, normal users can continue to access their ext2 files
even when they are not logged on as admins.
Will Win2fs allow me to install and boot Windows on an
ext2fs volume ?
No ! Am often surprised at the number of users coming to me with this
question. The answer (quite obviously) is no, you cannot install or boot Windows
off an ext2 volume using Win2fs (or for that matter using any non Microsoft
Think about it. When you install Windows, there is no Win2fs and hence Windows
cannot understand any of your ext2 file-systems and hence cannot install into
these. Regarding booting Windows from an ext2 volume - again, think about it -
this would need changes to the Windows boot loader (the small piece of software
code that loads Windows itself) to make it ext2 aware and that can happen only
if Win2fs is completely integrated into the Windows system.
Win2fs fails to ... ?
So you have been bitten by one of those bugs in the Win2fs code.
Please lookup the 'Bugs' section to see if its already there. If not, we encourage you to post your problem in the
Win2fs mailing list. If its indeed a bug, I'll be happy to add them to the 'Bugs' section
and will try getting it fixed at the earliest depending on the severity of the issue.
Does Win2fs support the ext3 file system ?
No ! Though Win2fs lists them along side ext2, ext3 file systems are not supported by Win2fs - at least not for now.
I shall take this up at a later stage when our ext2 file system code itself is sufficiently stabilized. But for now, I discourage using ext3 file systems with Win2fs more so with the write feature enabled.
15th Oct 2006: Win2fs may actually work well with some versions of
minix and ext/ext3 file-systems (as they are pretty similar to ext2), but this
is highly unreliable (especially, the write access) and hence is not
How safe is the Writing feature ?
Ahhhh ... this ones' a little tougher ... a short answer is: Yes, its pretty
stable and reliable... for a long answer ... well .. read on.
So far no one has reported any major disk crashes,
data corruption though this doesn't mean its completely safe and reliable.
For lack of time, I myself do not do "sufficient" testing (that I leave to the users!) on Win2fs - There was one data corruption while trying to
move a 30 Mb zip archive from a FAT volume to an Ext2 volume and back - WinZip® refused to recognize the moved archive any more.
The issue was traced back to a memory overflow in the code.
So, personally, I would say its around 60 - 70 % reliable.
How do I make Win2fs mount Linux volumes
When you are trying to mount a Linux partition, you can instruct Win2fs to
preserve that driver letter association so that even if you restart Windows, the
ext2 file systems would still be available. This is the 'Auto mount' feature. To
do this, when you are trying to do a mount operation, on the screen that lets
you select a drive letter, remember to check mark the 'Persistent across boots'
Does Win2fs allow us to defrag an ext2 file-system ?
We had this in mind initially, but given that ext2 file-systems are
inherently averse to fragmentation, we decided it was not worth the work.
However, with today's truly massive hard drives, may be its time for us to think
about this again.
Is Win2fs reporting Linux device names wrongly ?
Recently, users have reported that Win2fs is not properly assigning Linux
names (hda1, hdb1, etc) and drive letters (in case of Windows file-systems) to some of their partitions. This happens more often
with the newer 100GB+ drives where there are lots of partitions defined. I am
yet to see this bug(?) in action and would be interested to learn more about it
- do post it at the forum if you do happen to come across it.
Will Win2fs support long file names ?
Okay, Long File Names or LFNs are a jargon from the Windows 9x/NT world.
Windows 2000 supports long file names 'natively' and hence Win2fs should support them as well.
The only restrictions are from the ext2 file system design limitations and those of the Windows operating system itself.
Does Win2fs support Linux symbolic links ?
How are file permissions handled ?
The idea is to let users control the file permissions as
they would do on Linux. But this is an inherently hard problem to solve as there
is no correspondence between the Windows users (using Win2fs to access ext2
file-systems) and the users on the Linux operating system who created the
file-system and the files inside it.
To keep things simple, Win2fs assumes an admin user will be using it to access
the ext2 file-systems from within Windows and hence lets him/her access to all
the files regardless of file permissions. Users are also allowed to change the
file permissions so that when they get back to Linux, they'll be able to see their
changes. You can use the 'Win2fs' property page for the specific
files/dirs in question to accomplish this.
Win2fs doesn't hide files/dirs starting with a '.' (dot)
Yes, this is a known issue and we are working to resolve it.
Which versions of the ext2 file-system does Win2fs support ?
Revision 0 (Linux kernel 2.2 and older) and Revision 1 (Linux kernel 2.2 and
Which 'advanced' features of the ext2 file-system does Win2fs support ?
What features of the Windows IO subsystem does Win2fs
Which platforms are currently supported ?
Though Win2fs was originally targeted at desktop users running Windows 98 and Windows Me, right now we are providing support
only for Windows 2000 and its descendants.
The Windows 9x versions are still there in some corner of my hard drive and I occasionally work on them (Its very difficult to
debug Windows 9x file system drivers, given the amount of information available on the net and the stability of the OS itself).
I need Win2fs on one of the unsupported platforms, what do I do ?
If you need a Windows 98/Me version of Win2fs and are willing to experiment with some very ancient code, send me an email and
I can get you the old Windows 9x version dusted out from some corner of my hard drive.
A Windows 64 bit version (for use with Windows Vista and Vienna) of Win2fs is
currently in the design phase and may be out sometime soon - just hang around.
Where do I post my suggestions / questions, etc ?
You can post all your questions, suggestions and feedback at the source-forge page for Win2fs.
Can I contribute to Win2fs ?
You are welcome ! Just send me an email with a brief of your background and
we'll be glad to get you on board.
Last Modified: Tuesday, 24 October 2006
Copyright ©2006 Satish kumar Janarthanan