[lug] Need help making a flash drive cross platform functional

Alan Robertson alanr at unix.sh
Sun Sep 18 00:47:40 MDT 2005

Paul E Condon wrote:
> On Sat, Sep 17, 2005 at 11:17:21AM -0700, Jeffrey Siegal wrote:
>>You want a DOS partition table, with a VFAT file system, so use fdisk  
>>for that, create a single primary vfat partition, followed by mkdosfs  
>>to create the vfat file system within the partition.
>>That should get recognized everywhere.
> I may not have done what you intended. What I did didn't work quite as
> I had hoped. I couldn't low level format on the Windows machine
> because I counldn't find fdisk or a reasonable substitute on it on
> that machine.
> I used cfdisk on a Linux machine and chose filesystem type FAT32,
> which I suppose is equivalent to vfat.
> I then took the flash drive to the Windows machine and used FORMAT to
> put a FAT32 format on it.
> I was able to write on it some files on the Windows machine. Read those
> file on the Linux machine and also write files on the Linux machine.
> But the iMacs wouldn't accept the formatting and wanted to initialize
> the flash before they would mount it. I had already tried iMac
> initialization and knew it wouldn't work. So, unless there is something
> with doing the low level format using cfdisk under Linux, I have to
> give up on three way cross-compatibility. 
> But since I already have the iMacs hook to the Linux machines using 
> AppleTalk over Ethernet, I am able to plug the flash disk into one
> of the Linux boxes and have the iMacs read/write it over the LAN.
> Almost what I wanted, and it works good enough.
> If someone knows that cfdisk under GNU/Linux really doesn't do the
> right thing for vfat, please speakup and I'll work on this some more.

It's really surprising that it didn't "just work" without any formatting 
at all - because virtually all digital cameras write data in FAT format 
on their flash devices - and all flash drives come preformatted that way.

     Alan Robertson <alanr at unix.sh>

"Openness is the foundation and preservative of friendship...  Let me 
claim from you at all times your undisguised opinions." - William 

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