back to article Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should: Install Linux on NTFS – on the same partition as Windows

As alert folks of a cross-platform inclination will have noticed, Paragon's NTFS driver was accepted into the Linux kernel, and was released as part of 5.15. This has had a consequence they probably didn't consider, though: you can now boot Linux from an NTFS partition. But wait, there's more. Since a Linux installation …

  1. Binraider Silver badge

    Can you hear the Malware snooping for NTFS/Linux installs already on your network? Can you!

    Yes, I keep an NTFS partition lying around but that's only because I haven't got round to buying the next data dump hard drive to replace it since ditching Windows.

    1. Artem S Tashkinov

      Windows malware won't run in Linux unless you have Wine installed, your distro is configured to run .exe files, and then you launch such files intentionally.

      Linux has its share of security issues (e.g. users using `sudo` recklessly, running random scripts from the net, a `sudo` prompt not properly isolated from other applications and being wide open for keyboard snooping, etc) but exe files from Windows partitions don't pose such a big threat.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        But when you boot into Windows(tm) your Windows Virus(tm) can insert an extra account or extra service in c:\linux\etc\.... ready for when you restart Linux

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Yes, it could do that. And it could do that already. If you let your Windows image see the partitions your existing Linux is on, they have the access they need to modify them. The malware concerned would need to have some extra code in it to write to the unfamiliar filesystem, but any malware sufficiently advanced to detect your Linux and inject a Linux service could bring Ext4 with it. Most malware isn't going to bother doing that, but if you want it prevented, you'll have to do more than just not having the OSes sharing a partition.

      2. Clausewitz 4.0

        Winux A.K.A. as Peelf A.K.A. Lindose

  2. thondwe

    Boot from VHDX

    You may be able to add boot from VHDX to the list of ways to multiple boot without the need to partition... Works with Windows VHDX files - not sure about Linux though...

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    I suspect if you are forbidden from formatting your work PC's disk, they probably won't give you the privileges to change the boot loader either.

    1. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Absolutely fair. But if someone wants to put a different OS on their work computer against company policy, they are probably looking for ways to work around the letter of the law. ;-)

      Maybe this feature will encourage development of a 21st century version of LOADLIN:

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Given the consequences of COVID on WfH and computer security, I think that looking for ways to work around the law is going to take some time.

        Just today I was logged into my work environment at one of my clients and I noticed an icon on the desktop that really, really was of no use to me. I dragged it to the trash can only to be greeted with a message to the effect that I needed admin permission to do that.

        Admin access.

        To delete an icon from my desktop.

        For that level of paranoia, there is no workaround.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          > Admin access.

          > To delete an icon from my desktop.

          I know, it's crap isn't it? One work-around is to change its visibility to hidden, which you usually have permission to do even when you can't delete it.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Back in the murky days of NT there wasn't a way of asking you for an admin passwd to do something.

            So you couldn't open a dialog if changing the dialog would need admin rights.

            So you needed to be administrator to find your own network settings.

            The result was that every dev desktop ran as admin all the time

            1. dajames

              Back in the murky days of NT...

              Windows 10 is still NT, you know!

              So you couldn't open a dialog if changing the dialog would need admin rights.

              There were various things one couldn't do as a normal user, yes.

              The result was that every dev desktop ran as admin all the time

              On a poorly set-up system, maybe. We created a new group called "Developers" and gave it enough rights to do the things that developers needed to do, but not everything that an Admin could.

              Methinks, that's how permissions are supposed to be used ...

            2. jgard

              Typical, boring, uninformed Windows bashing. Admin privs would only be required to delete something from your desktop if you were trying to delete shared area(s)/data or deleting an object deemed mandatory by the sys admin. Given this is a standard user account we’re talking about, I reckon the admin is the best person to decide what is required on the desktop. Just one useful icon can cut support calls dramatically.

              Protection your data from nosy or wanna be admin users is surely a good thing, no? I can only imagine the kerfuffle and pointed fingers if a typical user were able to delete shared resources / data.

              And by the way, you could do what others do and use the tech properly. Either 1) log in as a normal user, then use runas to do admin tasks as an admin (exactly as one would in Linux), 2) configure the system to let your user group do the job it needs to do, and (not recommended) 3) login as admin.

              The problem here is not the OS. It’s about you not understanding how the OS works. You therefore use it wrongly and blame your frustration on Windows. Why don’t you learn how to use it properly instead?

        2. J. Cook Silver badge

          .. it might have been on the "all users" or "Public" desktop (depending on version of windoze), which does, indeed throw a "permission denied" message, even if you are admin, because Windows.

          (you actually have to navigate to the location of the all users desktop in order to yoink it properly.)

          a lot of enterprise environments have a list of 'standardized' apps that are just rolled out to everyone, regardless if they actually use them or not.

  4. oiseau

    What have you been drinking?

    Now you can format that partition with NTFS and it will be readable and writable from Windows too, without any extra software.

    Right ...

    Just what we were needing.

    ... if you have to regularly switch between Windows and Linux, you can do this using your Windows data folders.


    What in [ your preferred deity here ]'s name for?

    OK, I get it.

    But that's what a virtual machine with a shared folder is for.

    Absolutely no need for all this crap.

    All your files are available in both OSes, without syncing or transferring or anything.

    Ahh ...

    Yes, absolutely wonderful developement! 8^|*


    The things we get to read at ElReg these days.


    1. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: What have you been drinking?

      Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

      I don't do it on all my machines but it's been very handy on some of them.

      I've worked for clients that insisted on me using Windows, or where I needed to boot Windows for compatibility with a company printer, or an external monitor, or where I needed a Windows-only app (such as a more recent version of MS Office, or Google Drive).

      It's easy, quick, simple, and it works at full native speed unlike faffing around with VMs.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: What have you been drinking?

      "All your files are available in both OSes, without syncing or transferring or anything."

      Hold on, isn't that what I've already been doing for the last ten years or so? Write code, compile it in Windows, test it, switch to Linux, compile *exactly* *the* *same* *files*, test it. Update files, switch back to Windows, compile *those* *exact* *same* *files*....

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Consider my flabber


    And my gob smacked.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: Consider my flabber

      Don't worry. Any dual install this way will come with a LART included and applied to the installer in an appropriate way.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

        Re: Consider my flabber

        Cattleprod's supercharging!!!

  6. DarkwavePunk

    Head hurts.

    I use WSL2 with Kali rolling distro (yes, I'm a criminal or terrorist or something - better than using PowerShell) but this is utter voodoo to me. I sort of get the pros, but the cons sound like an utter clusterfuck.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Head hurts.

      It sounds hacky at the moment, but if "polished" and made simple / reliable, it's possible that there is no downside at all.

      Doesn't stop it being weird though.

  7. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Oh dear

    god... what heathen hell spawned creatures created this abomination unto the gods?

    To meddle with things beyond the realm of mortal admins..... 'tis the work of the devil I tell you!

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Nah, will still either have two partitions or use VMs.

    Better safe than sorry.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    I appreciate the comments suggesting alternatives, workarounds, improvements, and issues.

    But there is an undertone in some comments of "I don't like it so it shouldn't exist" that is tiresome. If you don't like it, don't use it. If it makes your job/life easier, use it.

    It comes too close to some of the arguments elsewhere concerning p0rn.

  10. stiine Silver badge

    what does this mean for AV companies?

    Are they really going to have to start scanning both %SYSTEMDRIVE% and /

    Oh joy.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    the irony is

    that the VMS filesystem that NTFS is based on allows much more finegrained access security than Unixen - stuff which had to be reinvented with extended attributes, etc etc

    It's all still in there, but Windows NT threw most of it away

    1. jtaylor

      Re: the irony is

      Indeed, NTFS file ACLs are much more fine-grained than traditional rwx-ogw UNIX permissions.

      I had not heard that NTFS was based on VMS (ODS-2?) What were some features that were discarded when they moved it to Windows NT?

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: the irony is

        I don't know if it is "based on" directly or just the main guy (Dave Cutler) was involved in VMS and generally anti-UNIX in outlook.

        ACLs have many good uses, but the downfall for Windows was the effort/knowledge to use them well, so for years the default was bent-over and lubed-up following from DOS' lack of any real permissions, whereas Linux started life as a multi-user system so the bit-map permissions were the norm and sufficient for many cases.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge

          Re: the irony is

          "I don't know if it is "based on" directly or just the main guy (Dave Cutler) was involved in VMS and generally anti-UNIX in outlook."

          ODS-2, the FS used on VMS was not the base for NTFS.

          Microsoft had already been working with IBM on HPFS and supported HPFS up to NT4. Earlier NT version could be installed on FAT/HPFS and the convert.exe (back then) could convert HPFS to NTFS.

  12. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I used to boot OS/2 and Ubuntu from different partitions (HPFS for C: and ext3 for /) with a shared JFS partition as D: and /home. It worked very well, particularly since Firefox and Thunderbird profiles were (are?) OS-agnostic.

  13. Blackjack Silver badge

    [you can now boot Linux from an NTFS partition.]

    Oh joy, is gonna be hilarious.

  14. picturethis

    Inquiring minds need to know...

    Does systemd know about about this?

    Is the windows kernel going to be dependent on systemd -or- is systemd going to be dependent on the windows kernel?

    "don't cross the streams... it would be bad..."

    1. Allan George Dyer

      Re: Inquiring minds need to know...

      @picturethis - "Is the windows kernel going to be dependent on systemd -or- is systemd going to be dependent on the windows kernel?"

      It probably depends on whether you are muttering prayers to Bill or Linus during the installation...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Inquiring minds need to know...

        Well yes. Selecting the correctly coloured chicken for the sacrifice is going to be important.

        1. Bill Posters

          Re: Inquiring minds need to know...



    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inquiring minds need to know...

      and will sfc /scannow solve anything if it goes wrong?

  15. matjaggard

    Will it be slow

    I switched to Linux from Windows primarily because of the performance of small files on NTFS - will Linux be faster than Windows for this? If not then I'm out.

    I use Mac OS these days and have a whole host of other problems to deal with.

    1. jtaylor

      Re: Will it be slow

      Yes, NTFS has a cost per file that gets ugly with lots of small files. Windows has several mechanisms to improve NTFS performance. I doubt Linux will be more efficient than Windows there.

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Will it be slow

      The as-shipped "copy" commands in Windows are poor performing. There's a reason RoboCopy is very popular if you have to wrangle a lot of data.

      Filesystem choice is a factor in performance; and filesystem choice is of course a lot more open in Linux too.

      Benchmarking this stuff is hard because of the difficulty in being able to test only "one" change at a time; though on the whole Linux has performance advantages - and one probably better served by a filesystem other than NTFS.

      Whether you'll notice the difference of course depends on application.

  16. PhilipN Silver badge

    Boot … reboot … dual boot …. FFS what year is this?

    Alright non-techie here who’s wasted years of his life waiting for the ferschlugginer screen to appear but conceivably with multi-cores, SOC’s etc. the BIOS could be written to allow 2 OSes to run at the same time accessing different SSD’s on the same machine flicking from one to the other with a keystroke.

    Another SSD or whatever for data.

    Or maybe I don’t know what “pre-emptive” means.

    Otherwise computers are so cheap, buy another one.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Boot … reboot … dual boot …. FFS what year is this?

      VMs are your friend.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Boot … reboot … dual boot …. FFS what year is this?

      "conceivably with multi-cores, SOC’s etc. the BIOS could be written to allow 2 OSes to run at the same time accessing different SSD’s on the same machine flicking from one to the other with a keystroke."

      They could, but that's basically putting a hypervisor in firmware. You could just run a VM platform on a normal OS and then you have less hardware worries since it has the resources of the host OS to use. It's done quite often on servers at the moment. You could boot natively to your main OS and run your others from VMs on that, or you could run something lighter as the host and run all your OSes on that.

  17. EmBlaze

    Endless OS and Q4OS still has something like Wubi afaik. But they failed with Bootcamp. Maybe this won't haha.

  18. hayzoos

    Here there be Dragons

    I have used multiboot configurations of various flavors over the decades. In each instance I had to abandon the configuration thanks to an update from MS breaking some part of it. MS assumes it's is the only OS on the system and codes update installers accordingly. Fortunately, I have never experienced a data loss because of the MS Myopia(TM). I have seen MBRs and PBRs rewritten, meddling with partition tables altering the partition type, directory naming collisions, and more where I cannot remember specifics. MS had not always been the sole perpetrator of some of the shenanigans, but an OS should be held to a higher standard. Antivirus for MS OSs shares the blame for some system level fsckups during installations and updates, but they take their cue from the OS substandard.

    Which leads me to prognosticate a new category of AV horror, decimation of a partition collocated OS.

    Some have brought up the spectre of systemd. I shudder to think of the consequences of it encountering a Windows registry in the neighborhood.

  19. Rob Davis

    APFS support in future?

    Would be nice for Apple's file system to be supported in the same way:

    - So that one can run "triple" boot macOS/Windows (boot camp)/Linux more simply - getting more out of machine

    - Better performing Docker based local dev environments direct on Linux

    - Repurposing inevitable x86 mac obsolescence - keep macOS for benefits of that, and perhaps a bit further beyond when x86 update support stops, before it gets too dated but in parallel start using Linux more on same machine - still very capable. Though drivers for touch/trackpad may need some work - work quite well in alpha for mac trackpad on Linux when I looked over a year ago. Could of course do Linux boot native on mac if install on Windows bootcamp partition now already (as this very article suggests), and work out how to point boot option at this -

    I'm all for extending life of hardware on many levels, help environment, save money, thrill of innovation as well as actual benefits of reusing what one has now.

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