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Thread: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy

  1. #1
    idanan NNTP User

    Default FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    OK, so I have to copy a few gigs onto a USB 2.0 external drive, which
    happens (and has to for reasons omitted here) to be formated as a single
    1TB FAT32 partition.

    While the drive mounts correctly and I can read all of its contents, my
    problems started with the 'cp' command terminating with a SEGV or
    freezing my entire machine (no keyboard or mouse working). Oh, and I'm
    on OpenSUSE 11, if that makes a difference.

    The error does not occur always at the same point, as I can reboot my
    machine and try again with the same files/directories and it eventually
    works.

    The first time my 'cp -R' command failed, I wanted to do a recursive
    diff, to figure out which files were successfully copied.

    Craziness number #1: Diff thinks most files do not match! The problem
    is that 'cp' seems to translate files to lower case while copying to a
    FAT32 partition. Diff does not know this, so says that the 'same' file
    only exits on the FAT32 and the Linux partition.

    Craziness number #2: Case sometimes preserved! Try 'mkdir V1' and it
    creates 'v1' (lower case). Try 'mkdir Volume1' and it creates 'Volume1'
    (mixed case preserved). Do 'mv Volume1 V1' and the directory becomes
    'v1' (lower case).

    So, I'm hoping someone has any idea of how to fix or avoid some or all
    of these problems. Ideally, cp would copy files with the right case,
    mkdir would create dirs of the right case and diff would work as a
    consequence. If not, perhaps there are non-standard system tools that
    can help. BTW, I tried to copy with the Gnome file manager and it froze
    itself once and froze the machine the other time.

    Thanks in advance,

    - Itai


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  2. #2
    john hudson NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    I cannot answer all your problems but I find that all FAT32 files with
    one case, whether upper or lower, are copied over as lower and those
    with both upper and lower are copied as they are. But I have no idea at
    what point in the copying process that decision is made.


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  3. #3
    JosipBroz NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    You mean FAT32 actually supports partitions over 32GB? Good for you!


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  4. #4
    caf4926 NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    > FYI
    > 'Limitations of the FAT32 File System in Windows XP'
    > (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314463)
    >
    > > > > The maximum disk size is approximately 8 terabytes> > > > > You cannot format a volume larger than 32 gigabytes (GB) in size using

    > > the FAT32 file system during the Windows XP installation process.
    > > Windows XP can mount and support FAT32 volumes larger than 32 GB
    > > (subject to the other limits), but you cannot create a FAT32 volume
    > > larger than 32 GB by using the Format tool during Setup> > Are you doing this from a CLI, a terminal in X or from a GUI?


    What size are the files you are moving/copying?


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  5. #5
    idanan NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    The files I am copying vary in size from a few KB to a few hundred megs.
    There may be a very small number above 1GB but less than 2GB. There are
    roughly 40,000 files totaling a bit under 200GB.

    Initially I tried 'cp -R' on the command-line (tcsh) for the whole
    thing at once. In 4 tried this causes 2 SEGVs and 2 times my machine
    froze. When I tried to copy the whole thing via the Gnome file-browser
    instead, the system froze (no keyboard or mouse, so I could not even go
    to a console session).

    What ended up getting the job painfully done it to do 'cp -R' on
    smaller chunks (1-20GB). Still, I had to try multiple times as 1 time
    out of 2, 'cp' failed with a SEGV. When that happens the file-system
    became read-only, so I had to reboot for my second try.


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  6. #6
    idanan NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    JosipBroz;1907780 Wrote:
    > You mean FAT32 actually supports partitions over 32GB? Good for you!


    Yes. It was formatted on an Intel Mac and this also works (but you
    can't format it) on Windows XP.


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  7. #7
    idanan NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    john_hudson;1907714 Wrote:
    > I cannot answer all your problems but I find that all FAT32 files with
    > one case, whether upper or lower, are copied over as lower and those
    > with both upper and lower are copied as they are. But I have no idea at
    > what point in the copying process that decision is made.


    Actually, I was copying TO FAT32. The case was preserved that way. What
    is driving me nuts the most is that file-operation (mkdir for example)
    does not create the file/directory in the requested case.


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  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy

    On Saturday 13 December 2008 23:16, idanan wrote:

    > OK, so I have to copy a few gigs onto a USB 2.0 external drive, which
    > happens (and has to for reasons omitted here) to be formated as a single
    > 1TB FAT32 partition.



    > While the drive mounts correctly and I can read all of its contents, my
    > problems started with the 'cp' command terminating with a SEGV or
    > freezing my entire machine (no keyboard or mouse working). Oh, and I'm
    > on OpenSUSE 11, if that makes a difference.

    No, it doesn't.
    First thing: I'd use rsync, if I where you. Better at handling such
    volumes, perhaps, but certainly much better to resume, if thing stop
    mid-may.

    > The error does not occur always at the same point, as I can reboot my
    > machine and try again with the same files/directories and it eventually
    > works.

    No ready-made solution for that. Can be anything from drive overheating,
    to file size, to clashing name cases, ....

    > The first time my 'cp -R' command failed, I wanted to do a recursive
    > diff, to figure out which files were successfully copied.

    No need, with rsync.

    > Craziness number #1: Diff thinks most files do not match! The problem
    > is that 'cp' seems to translate files to lower case while copying to a
    > FAT32 partition. Diff does not know this, so says that the 'same' file
    > only exits on the FAT32 and the Linux partition.
    > Craziness number #2: Case sometimes preserved! Try 'mkdir V1' and it
    > creates 'v1' (lower case). Try 'mkdir Volume1' and it creates 'Volume1'
    > (mixed case preserved). Do 'mv Volume1 V1' and the directory becomes
    > 'v1' (lower case).

    A simple ruile: FAT (32 or otherwise) has NO case. Anything resmbling case
    is merely display gloss. Don't ever rely on it for anything.

    > So, I'm hoping someone has any idea of how to fix or avoid some or all
    > of these problems. Ideally, cp would copy files with the right case,
    > mkdir would create dirs of the right case and diff would work as a
    > consequence. If not, perhaps there are non-standard system tools that
    > can help. BTW, I tried to copy with the Gnome file manager and it froze
    > itself once and froze the machine the other time.

    Use rsync, you'll still get a reasonably 'cased' set of dirs/files.

    FAT32 on a 1 TB partition is new to me, but I've done a 640GB one, so...

    With FAT32, you get a max file size of 4GB(-1 byte).

    Mind the depth of the paths: the specs seem to say you can get a fullpath
    length of up to 64KB. But any Windows machine I've worked with stops at
    255 chars. So, avoid crossing that limit, too.


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  9. #9
    idanan NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    As someone suggested, I tried rsync.... It does not help because of the
    case issue unfortunately (explanation below). It turns out even if rsync
    could work, it wouldn't solve all the problems either.

    So what I really need is a way to tell the (OpenSUSE) FAT32 driver to
    show files on a FAT32 device in their actual case. Anyone would know
    what option that would be and how to set it? That would be greatly
    appreciated

    Thanks in advance,

    - Itai

    PS: For the curious, here is why rsync doesn't work:
    - Say I sync 'SOMEPIC.JPG' and 'somedoc.txt' from Linux to FAT32 on
    Monday.
    - On Tuesday, I rync again WITHOUT anything having changed. rsync will
    try to sync SOMEPIC.JPG again because it cannot find it on the FAT32
    drive, it only has 'somepic.jpg'.
    - As I undestand this, it is because the FAT32 driver enumerates
    "single case" files as lower-case! So all lower-case files have no
    problems but all upper-case files do. Mixed case is another case.


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  10. #10
    ken yap NNTP User

    Default Re: FAT32 Driving Me Crazy


    What is your ultimate goal in this? To transport files to another Linux
    system using a FAT32 external disk, or to backup your files?

    If to transport files, you'd be better off using tar to write archives
    on the disk, using split to keep the size of the chunks within limit.
    Something like:


    Code:
    --------------------
    tar zcf - * | (cd /media/DISK; split -b 1G)
    --------------------


    At the other end you can recombine with cat and extract with tar.

    If to backup your files, sorry, IMO backing up Linux files on FAT32 is
    an inherently bad idea.


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