Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Of Flash drives and Windows XP...Part I

As mentioned here, I faced quite an annoying problem when i created multiple partitions on my USB flash drive.

The layout of the Flash drive was as follows :

1)720 MB partition, FAT32, bootable
2)1024 MB partition ext2 (for persistence)
3)2111 MB parition, NTFS (for general use)

Now, the problem was that when the Flash drive was inserted when Windows XP was running, only 1 partition was being assigned a letter by Windows. The remaining partitions were visible from the Disk Management Tool, but were not being assigned a letter and as a result were rendered useless.
Any attempt to assign a letter to the drives resulted in the following error :
"The partition is not enabled. To enable the partition re-start the computer."

Restarting the computer does not help and the same error is displayed.
Now this was annoying, because the partition that was being assigned a letter was the 720 MB one, which was already filled up.

This problem is absent in Ubuntu. All the 3 partitions are detected and are usable. This problem is confirmed by Microsoft as a feature (lol :P).Only the first partition on the USB Flash drive is assigned a letter and is usable.

There are a couple of workarounds for this is to fool Windows into thinking that the removable drive is a local disk. The other one involves rearrangement of partitions.

Workarounds can be found here.

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