Partitioning: FAT vs FAT32

Q People often recommend FAT partitions, which I think can be up to 4GB, for easy read/write access from both Windows and Linux. This would be of great use to me, but I haven't been able to set this up. I run an Evesham (May 2003) with Windows XP Pro and SUSE 8.2 Pro mounted on separate 80GB Hard Discs. Is it possible to repartition either hard disc to provide such a 4GB FAT partition without having to reload either of the operating systems and thus losing my settings? If so, how? When I loaded SUSE 8.2, I used the recommended single partition. Now, a little wiser, I'd like to repartition that hard disk anyway for Linux use, with /home separate so I can try new Linux distros and so on, without losing my tried and trusted system. I seem to remember reading a few months ago that an easy way to partition a disc is to start loading Mandrake and stop once partitioning has been done. Does this overwrite everything already on that disc? Please advise on the best and safest way to repartition, with a FAT partition at the end of one of the hard discs that's recognised by both Windows and Linux.

A related problem I have is that when I'm using a 32MB USB pen drive to transfer between the two systems, or indeed to other PCs, writing to the pen drive in Linux results in case changes to file names. The only way to correct this is to then read the files into Windows and then write them back from Windows. The correctly cased file names are then read by any Linux or Windows PC. Is this inherent or is it a driver problem, and do I need to load a specific driver rather than rely on a default?

A You can either use Partition Magic or an Open Source tool such as GNU PartImage to repartition a disk without wiping it. Both of these will adjust the filesystems prior to modifying the partition structure, allowing for the modifications to be made without destroying data. You can then carve out a partition on the disk and build a FAT filesystem on it. Using FAT32, you'll be able to create a partition far greater than 4GB, or alternatively you could simply mount your Windows XP filesystem and access a specific directory on the disk. Mounting a filesystem, either disk-based or USB, using 'fat' will result in naming issues and problems with long filenames. Using 'vfat', you can ensure that information is preserved and will allow for the easy exchange of data between Linux and DOS.

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