vSphere4 & NTFS – How To, and Why It’s A Bad Idea

Disclaimer: Just because you can do a thing, does not mean it is smart. What is described here is a “Bad Idea” for any number of reasons, the least of which is running non supported 3rd party code on your service console. Further, as you’ll see below, the kernel version ntfs-3g expects, is not the one the SC runs, and thus, you are taking your data into your own hands.

Now that’s out of the way… First a shot of the freshly formatted disk in Windows:


Cool, like so many other USB disks, it’s NTFS. While not a problem when you’re using VMware Server on Windows, when you need to ship the disk (because UPS is faster than the internet) this will be a problem for the folks at your remote colo loading the vmdk onto your ESX host.

So how do we read it? We load up ntfs-3g:

$ lwp-download http://marush.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/ntfs-3g-200944-el5i686.rpm
Saving to ‘ntfs-3g-200944-el5i686.rpm’…
193 KB received in 2 seconds (96.5 KB/sec)             

[root@localhost ~]# ls
ks.cfg  ntfs-3g-200944-el5i686.rpm
[root@localhost ~]# rpm -i ntfs-3g-200944-el5i686.rpm

Reading that, we’ve used lwp-download to pull down the bits from the ntfs-3g site. Curl can be used as well, if you prefer. Next we use it to mount the drive in question (pay attention to the warning!):

[root@localhost ~]# ntfs
ntfs-3g        ntfs-3g.probe  ntfsmount     
[root@localhost ~]# ntfs-3g /dev/sde1 /mnt/usb
WARNING: Deficient Linux kernel detected. Some driver features are
         not available (swap file on NTFS, boot from NTFS by LILO), and
         unmount is not safe unless it’s made sure the ntfs-3g process
         naturally terminates after calling ‘umount’. If you wish this
         message to disappear then you should upgrade to at least kernel
         version 2.6.20, or request help from your distribution to fix
         the kernel problem. The below web page has more information:

[root@localhost ~]# mount
/dev/sde1 on /mnt/usb type fuse (rw,allow_other)

Cool, lets make sure it works (note: I got bored waiting so broke out of the dd early):

[root@localhost usb]# dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/usb/test bs=1MB count=300
120+0 records in
120+0 records out
120000000 bytes (120 MB) copied, 9.96755 seconds, 12.0 MB/s

[root@localhost usb]# ls -alh
total 115M
drwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4.0K Jun  2 03:08 .
drwxr-xr-x 5 root root 4.0K Jun  1 02:51 ..
-rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 115M Jun  2 03:08 test

Woot! Now remember. Use this at your own risk.

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