Sunday, September 20, 2009

Customizing Debian

One of Debian's features I really like is that everything isn't installed by default. I can customize my installation without having to remove tons of things I don't want. Since I am still dual booting to Windows and will be sharing space on the hard drive with Microsoft's file system NTFS, I will need a way to access those files. Most distros are assuming that we will be accessing and mounting NTFS drives and the truth is quite a few of us will, so they install the driver. But Debian by default doesn't install the needed driver ntfs-3g. So here are he simple steps to install the driver I found on a Google search of 'mount ntfs drives in debian': (if following the directions in the link you will notice #6 for me is different, I had to modify the mount command for my system)
  1. Open a termnal session as root
  2. apt-get install libfuse2
  3. apt-get install ntfs-3g
  4. Identify the ntfs partition using command: fdisk -l | grep NTFS
  5. mkdir /mnt/windows  (you can call this something different)
  6. mount -t ntfs /dev/hda1 /mnt/windows -o defaults,umask=0
Now you will have access to your Windows NTFS partition. If you have more than one just repeat substituting the appropriate partition references. When you are done be sure to un-mount the drive with the umount command (not a typo).

This can also be set at boot time by editing the fstab file in a text editor. Caution!! Messing up this file will render the system to a non-bootable state. Only change what is needed by adding this line to the file: /dev/hda1  /mnt/windows  ntfs-3g    defaults      0 0
Of course you will want to identity of the partition as found from the command step 4 gives you. This will have to be done as root of course and the file is in /etc. Follow these steps as root:
  1. cp -v /etc/fstab /etc/fstabold  (this copies the original)
  2. gedit /etc/fstab  (or your favorite editor)
  3. Add the line:  /dev/hda1  /mnt/windows  ntfs-3g    defaults      0 0
  4. Close the editor and re-boot. The partition will be ready for access each time you boot now.
For someone like me that dual boots, it is important to be able to access files in all partitions. From Windows I use the driver Ext2 IFS in Windows to access Linux partitions. I plan on writing about this in my Working With Windows blog so watch for it.

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