Accessing Linux Filesystems in Windows

You don't have to wait for Microsoft to support Linux filesystems to get at your Linux files from Windows.

ReiserFS increasingly has become a popular Linux filesystem, because of its fault-tolerance capabilities. rfstool allows access to ReiserFS partitions from Windows to Linux; however, it supports only read-only access, and the developers, according to their Web site, have no plans to change that. The tool is available from


The previous tools lead us to the tool to which this article is dedicated. Unlike Ext2fsd and rfstool, which are specific to one particular class of filesystems, LTOOLS are more generic. They support ext2, ext3 and ReiserFS. LTOOLS are a set of command-line tools, along with two GUIs and a Web-based front end, to enable the reading of and writing to Linux ext2/3 and ReiserFS filesystems from nearly all DOS or Windows (XP, 2000, NT, ME, 9.x or 3.x) versions, running on the same machine or remotely. So, whenever you're running DOS or Windows, and you desperately need to read or write to a Linux partition, which may be on your own computer or any other, you can make use of LTOOLS. LTOOLS also is a great tool for fixing your Linux installation, if you do not have a live CD.

As mentioned previously, LTOOLS comes with two different GUI interfaces to enable you to access your Linux partitions. LTOOLS comes with LTOOLSgui, which is a Java-based graphical user interface for local or remote access to your Linux files, and LTOOLSnet, which is a Microsoft .NET-based user interface, which also provides local or remote access.

If you do not like using non-free Java or MS .NET, you can use your Web browser as a graphical front end for LTOOLS. To achieve this functionality, the package contains LREADsrv, which is a simple Web server, making your Linux filesystem available in an Explorer-like view in your Web browser. Using LREADsrv, you can allow remote access to your Linux partitions, as well as to your DOS/Windows partitions.

Installation of LTOOLS

LTOOLS comes with a default Windows installer, which seems quite dated. After following the normal installation procedure, the installer creates an entry in your start menu called LTOOLS from which you can access a plethora of interfaces that allows you to access your Linux filesystems.

LTOOLS comes with support for nearly all Windows versions; however, all of the interfaces won't run on all Windows versions. LTOOLS provides two different console versions for Win9x/ME and Windows NT/XP.

Overview of LTOOLS—Command-Line Interface

The command-line interface provides basic functionality for writing and retrieving data from Linux. LTOOLS commands have the following format. All commands have three files associated with them, for example:


This command lists directories; however, it is not a program but a script. This script, depending on your system, further invokes either of these two programs: LdirDOS.exe or ldirNT.exe. The first one is for Win9x/ME, and the second one is for Windows NT/XP.

Many LTOOLS commands have a logical syntax. For example, partition names are Linux names. So, if I want to copy a file called from /root (which is on /dev/hda2) to my C: drive, I would do the following:

lread.bat --s/dev/hda2 /root/ C:\

Similarly, for writing to Linux, I would do this:

lwrite.bat --s/dev/hda2 C:\ /root/

Along the same lines, LTOOLS also has the commands shown in Table 1.

Table 1. LTOOLS Commands

lread.bat Read and copy files from Linux to DOS; sample usage: lread.bat --s/dev/hda2 /root/ C:\
lwrite.bat Copy files from DOS to Linux; sample usage: lwrite.bat --s/dev/hda2 C:\ /root/
ldel.bat Delete Linux files or (empty) directories—same as rm --f and rmdir in Linux; sample usage: ldel.bat /root/
lchange.bat Change Linux file attributes and owners—analogous to chmod; sample usage: lchange.bat --s/dev/hda2 754 /root/
lren.bat Rename Linux files—analogous to mv; sample usage: lren.bat --s/devhda2 /root/ /root/
lmkdir.bat Create a new Linux directory—analogous to mkdir; sample usage: lmkdir.bat --s/dev/hda2 /root/newdir
lln.bat Create a symbolic link—analogous to ln; sample usage: lln.bat --s/dev/hda8 /root/link /root/
lcd.bat Change directory—analogous to cd; sample usage: lcd.bat /home/
ldrive.bat Set the default Linux disk drive; sample usage: ldrive /dev/hda8

ReiserFS is not supported via the above-mentioned tools. Thus, LTOOLS also ships with rfstool, which can be used to read from ReiserFS partitions. In order to read the hard disk under Windows NT/2000/XP or UNIX/Linux, you need administrator rights. If you are running LTOOLS under a non-administrator account, you may not be able to access the hard disk. LTOOLS does not respect Linux ownership. This means that if users were to mount the root device, they could change anything, including /etc/passwd/.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

is there any software

sushant's picture

is there any software available that will help me convert ext4 partition to NTFS or FAT32??

Very informative article

Raghu's picture


This article is very informative and useful for "dual boot" machine users.


Ext4 support

Bo Branten's picture

Now the ext2fsd driver has been updated to support ext4:

Ext4 and extents support

Anonymous's picture

You can use the new release of my Ext2read to view copy ext4 file systems with extents enabled. You can download it from

release thread is here:

Manish Regmi


Capodastro's picture

ext2fsd doesn't work for ext4 doesn't work

No it doesn't work. You can

kempi's picture

No it doesn't work. You can just see / directory and that's all.

Ext2fsd Problem with Ext4

SouthFloridaNetworks's picture

"""Ext2fsd ... allows access from Windows to ext2 filesystems ... Ext2fsd does not only read ext2 partitions, but also Ext2 was one of the first de facto Linux filesystems, and many new Linux filesystems, such as ext3 and ext4 are backward-compatible with it. Thus, the driver can work with ext3 and possibly ext4."""

While technically true, there is one small problem. Ext2fsd will only work with a 128 inode, which is the default in the EXT2 File system. The default inode for Ext4 is 256, rendering it incompatible with Ext2fsd. Also, most newer operating systems, such as Ubuntu 9.04, will by default install a 256 inode with their EXT3 filesystem, in anticipation of upgrading to Ext4 in the future. While you can manually specify to format your new file system utilizing a 128 inode with EXT3, to keep compatibility with Ext2fsd, I'm not sure if the same is true for the Ext4 filesystem, considering that most of the newer attributes of the Ext4 filesystem are stored in the extended Inode. In other words, by installing the Ext4 filesystem with a 128 inode, it's basically the same as having an Ext3 filesystem. (though I could be wrong on this final point).

same problem

Lars (anonymous)'s picture

I ran into this with a new Ubuntu installation... I installed two Linux partitions, one ext4 (root partition) and one ext3 (home partition). The latter I chose ext3 for better compatibility with existing tools for accessing Linux fs's from Windows.
Unfortunately, I found out afterwards that Ext2IFS, and apparently Ext2FSD, only work with a 128 inode fs, which is not what I have.

Thanks for the pointer to LTOOLS. I'll give that a try.



pgn674's picture

Thanks for the info. Good comment. Now to wait for a Windows EXT4 driver to come out...

There is a column talked

David's picture

There is a column talked about the detail LTOOLS in issue 79. The link is

Where is this app?

Anonymous's picture

Why is there links for everything EXCEPT the software the article is written about?

I don't know why, but here's a link

thudfoo's picture


Anonymous's picture

Its pretty much

Anon's picture
Geek Guide
The DevOps Toolbox

Tools and Technologies for Scale and Reliability
by Linux Journal Editor Bill Childers

Get your free copy today

Sponsored by IBM

Upcoming Webinar
8 Signs You're Beyond Cron

Scheduling Crontabs With an Enterprise Scheduler
11am CDT, April 29th
Moderated by Linux Journal Contributor Mike Diehl

Sign up now

Sponsored by Skybot