[CentOS] What's the best way to convert a whole set of file systems?

John R Pierce pierce at hogranch.com
Wed Mar 14 19:16:00 UTC 2007

Mark Hull-Richter wrote:
> I am currently running a Windows XP system at home with around 100+ Mb 
> in use over ~400Mb of NTFS file systems.  I am installing CentOS 4.4 
> on it when I change out the mobo/cpu/mem/video combo I just bought.  I 
> want to convert all the file systems to (probably) Reiserfs or maybe 
> ext3, but I need to do them one at a time because I only have enough 
> transfer space to accommodate the largest one, or at least that’s my 
> belief.  That would mean at least two copies per partition converted, 
> and I have six partitions to convert, from ~14Gb to over 85Gb (in one, 
> only – the rest are 30Gb or smaller).
> 1)       Is there a good way to do whole fs conversions, specifically 
> from NTFS to reiserfs or ext3?
> 2)       Do I even need to do this (i.e., do any of the CentOS/Linux 
> kernels support read AND write to NTFS)?
> 3)       Is there, by any chance, and in-place converter from NTFS to 
> any Linux fs, preferably reiserfs or ext3?
> Also, the last time I installed CentOS on a system (I’ve done about 
> six or seven so far) I don’t remember seeing reiserfs as one of the 
> supported fs’s for configuring during the installation process – am I 
> blind or is this really the case?  I like reiserfs primarily because 
> it is really good with many small files, and I have tons of them – 
> around 100k files under 10k.

the only major distribution that really supports reiser natively is SuSE

10k bytes isn't really a small file, < 512 bytes is small, and where 
both NTFS and Reiser's trick of hiding small files directly in the 
directory entries may give some benefit.

in place format conversion is a nightmare waiting to happen.       I'd 
fully backup a disk before even attempting that, even assuming any such 
tools exist (afaik, they don't).    once its backed up, its probably 
faster to restore this backup to the new format rather than attempting 
any sort of conversion.

frankly, I'd build a new computer, install Linux on it, then copy the 
files across the network.   when done, recycle the old computer for 
parts, or sell it intact as is (its probably worth more as a working 
system than as parts).

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