Can't access Windows hard drives in Mandriva

Q I have just installed Mandriva 2005. This is the second time I've done this. The first time I could read my Windows hard drives but this time I can't. I appear to be locked out. How can I get access to these disks as I did last time? The previous installation was on another hard drive, which I don't have any more.

A The solution to this depends on two things: the type of filesystem you are using on your Windows partition and what you mean by "locked out" If you had full read and write access to the Window partition before, it is most likely using the FAT32 filesystem. In that case, if you mean you are able to mount the partition but not write to it, or read into directories, this is a simple permissions problem. Fire up the Mandriva Control Center, go into the Mount Points section and select Create, Delete And Resize Hard Disk Partitions. Select your Windows partition, go into Expert mode and press the Options button. The box in the middle of the Options window will probably contain 'defaults'. Tick the box labelled Umask=0, followed by OK and Done. You now need to remount the partition to apply the new settings. You could do this by rebooting, but this is Linux, not Windows, so open a terminal and type

su -c "mount /mnt/windows -o remount"

replacing /mnt/windows with wherever your Windows partition appears. Give the root password and you can now read and write to your Windows partition. The reason for this is the umask=0 that you added to the partition's mount options. The Windows FAT32 filesystem doesn't have any file permissions of its own. This option tells the system to treat all files and directories as readable and writable by everyone. If your Windows partition uses the NTFS filesystem, the situation is more difficult. While read access for this filesystem has been around for a while, full read/write access has only recently become really usable. Read access can be enabled by following the steps outlined above, but replace the remount command with

su
umount /mnt/windows
chmod 777 /mnt/windows
mount /mnt/windows

You should now be able to read from - but not write to - your Windows partition. While it is theoretically possible to enable write support with this distribution, this is rather limited and more trouble that it is worth. Mandriva 2005 is generally considered to be rather old now, and in the intervening time things have moved on a lot in this area. I recommend you upgrade to the latest release.

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