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.
LTOOLS .NET Framework Client

The .NET framework client is one of the most feature-rich clients available in LTOOLS. To run it, you need to download a copy of the Microsoft .NET framework from the Microsoft Download Web site (

Figure 2. The C# LTOOLS File Manager

The client allows you to view all Windows and Linux partitions, and you can transfer files between them, delete files, edit files and modify them. It is also possible to mount a remote device and edit its contents. This is extremely useful when I have some problems with my Web server. I mount the drive remotely if I'm using a Windows machine and make all the modifications necessary to get it running.

LTOOLS Java Framework Client

If your Windows installation is Windows95/98/ME and does not support the MS .NET framework, the Java interface is for you. To run the Java interface, you need a copy of the Java Runtime Environment, which you can download from The Java interface has features analogous to the .NET client.

LTOOLS Web-Based Interface

The best interface in LTOOLS, based on my experience, is the Web-based service. LTOOLs comes with a built-in Web server, LREADsrv.exe, which allows users to start it and access their filesystems via a Web browser. This has great potential if you want to share files with other people remotely. I would not recommend running LREADsrv.exe on a server that is globally accessible, as it could compromise your data, so you should share it in an environment where only legitimate users have access to it, such as a virtual private network. LREADsrv.exe still has some problems; however, they will be fixed in future releases.

LREADsrv is still alpha and has certain limitations, which include problems with HTTP 1.1 Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, which slows the response from the server considerably. Another limitation is that LREADsrv, in its current version, has been implemented as a mono-threaded application—meaning that if multiple people are accessing the filesystem at the same time, the changes they make are applied globally, which can lead to lost updates and concurrency problems. LREADsrv's error checking is weak. Most user input (filenames and so on) is not validated. So, if a user types some filenames incorrectly or mistypes a hard disk partition, the Web server can go into an unstable state, which, fortunately, does not result in any data loss.


Linux users have increasingly more mature support for Windows filesystems. LTOOLS provides a unified way to access the most popular Linux filesystems through a plethora of interfaces from Windows. However, support for Linux filesystems in Windows still has a way to go. Windows support for various other Linux/open-source filesystems, such as XFS, is not yet available. Drivers capable of using advanced features, such as journaling in ext3 and ReiserFS, are not mature. Integration of Linux filesystems with Windows is an important area, and the lack of it can be a serious impediment to an OS migration. Thus, to enable enhanced interoperability between MS Windows and Linux, given that Windows is still the dominant desktop operating system, the Open Source community must focus on adding mutual support for filesystems.

Irfan Habib is an undergraduate student of software engineering at the National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan. He has been deeply interested in Free and Open Source software for years. He often works in heterogeneous computing environments—that's why mutual support for filesystems of different platforms is important to him.



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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