Ubuntu for Windows Users: Where Is Home?

I recently posted about “What Is the Best Computer? Why Do You Need a Computer, Anyhow?” because the first step in deciding what you want to do is to understand why and how you want to do it.  One of the things you will need to decide is how you will access your old data.

Now, you can simply mount an NTFS partition and access things like another drive.  However, in any event, it is unlikely that as long as you are switching between Windows and Ubuntu you won’t have some type of issue unless you strictly use the Nautilus tool (your “Files” icon from Unity).  If you fstab and mount the partition the old fashioned way, though, file permissions are likely to be an issue, either in Windows or Ubuntu but probably both.

This is not insurmountable, BTW.  It’s just a bit of a pain.  If it is too much of a pain, then I recommend the Nautilius tool.

What you do not want to do (and I tried anyhow) is simply map your home directory to your current Windows directory.  This will be a pain; I guarantee it.  For one thing, my sound never worked correctly because the file permissions were all messed up.  YMMV.

There are people who still insist that NTFS is not POSIX compliant, and that is the reason they give for the issues.  Strictly speaking, that isn’t true, however.  As long ago as Windows NT, Windows has had to be POSIX compliant.  The problem is that it is barely POSIX compliant.  It does pay attention to security and permissions, but Windows does not do so in the same way Unix does.

A nice compromise is to go ahead and install Ubuntu as normal, and then remove the Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos directories and create links to the mounted NTFS directory.  If you have Dropbox, I recommend doing it with this directory as well.  This will give you the best of both worlds, albeit with some caveats.

The first issue is iTunes.  This is a royal pain.  It barfs whenever any permissions on the iTunes library are not normal.  You might just want to create two scripts that takes ownership of the iTunes directory (one for Windows and one for Ubuntu).

Another issue is one I have not found a solution for.  I get the file “cannot be put in the trash. Do you want to delete it immediately?” error.

I have tried solutions listed on Computer and You and on Ask Ubuntu, but they did not work.  I will create an article if I ever figure this one out.

In order to automatically load the NTFS partition, I followed the Samba instructions on the Ubuntu Community Help Wiki.  The main thing is to ensure you choose the correct mask to load and use CIFS, which took a while to find for some reason.  I also found a thorough troubleshooting guide on Gentoo Discussion Forums.  I finally figured out I was missing a dependency, so I reinstalled Samba and things worked better.

In all reality, this has been the most difficult part.  I’m stubborn enough to want my data files to be the same across the board.  It is just too goofy to have to copy, move, sync or click through several levels of folders when in reality the folder structure is not that much different between the two.  However, for now I can live with iTune’s goofiness (which comes with the territory anyhow) and deleting files instead of moving them to the trash.


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