Tag Archives: Ubuntu

Formatting A Drive as exFAT on Windows, macOS and Linux

Introduction

In my previous blog post, Sharing a Drive Between Windows, macOS and Linux, I described how to setup the three operating systems to read a drive that had been formatted as exFAT. The exFAT format is readable by all three, and making it easy to share files between different operating systems.

A natural question that follows is, “how do I format a drive as exFAT?”

In this article I’ll show how to format an external drive as exFAT. I’ll be using an 8gb thumb drive, but I’ve used this technique with both thumb drives as well as the larger external multi-terabyte hard drives.

Windows

Windows is the easiest of the three to format a drive for exFAT. First, insert the drive into a USB port. This will typically open the Windows File Explorer, but if not, open it.

Now right click on the drive letter for the USB drive, and click on Format. The format dialog will appear.

In the second drop down you can pick the file system. Use it to select exFAT. You can also enter a new volume label if you want. Simply click the Start button to kick off the format process.

You will of course get a warning that all the data on the drive will be lost, simply click on OK to proceed.

Once done Windows will let you know. Just click OK and your drive is ready to use.

Apple macOS

There’s a few more steps to formatting a drive to exFAT in macOS, but it’s still pretty simple. Start by opening Finder, then go to the Applications. In Applications, open the Utilities folder.

Inside the Utilities, launch the Disk Utility. If you’ve not done so, connect the USB drive you want to format as exFAT.

On the left side of the Disk Utility is a list of drives, click on the USB drive in the list.

Above the drive info area are a series of command buttons. Click on the Erase button. Note you need to click on the icon, not the Erase label.

In the dialog that appears, you can change the label if you wish. The important box is the Format one. You can use the blue arrow to bring up the list, and change it to exFAT.

Once exFAT is selected, you can click the Erase button on the lower right.

Once done, macOS will let you know. Just click Done, and the drive will be ready for you to use.

I’ve used this technique with macOS versions from High Sierra onward.

Linux

For this section, I’m using screen shots from my Kubuntu 20.10 computer. The techniques will work with most Ubuntu/Debian based installs. To make it more portable to other versions, we’ll do most of it using the command line.

Note, these instructions assume you’ve already followed the instructions in my previous blog post, and installed the exFAT utilities.

Start by opening up a terminal window, and entering the following command:

df

Your output will look something like this:

Filesystem     1K-blocks     Used Available Use% Mounted on
tmpfs             805596     1752    803844   1% /run
/dev/sda2      244568380 18388480 213686844   8% /
tmpfs            4027972      128   4027844   1% /dev/shm
tmpfs               5120        4      5116   1% /run/lock
tmpfs               4096        0      4096   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sda1         523248     7984    515264   2% /boot/efi
tmpfs             805592      108    805484   1% /run/user/1000
/dev/sdb1        7815648       96   7815552   1% /media/arcanecode/4ECB-E340

For this exercise, I’ll be using the /dev/sdb1 drive which is my 8gb thumb drive.

Before we can proceed, we’ll have to unmount the drive. The command is simple.

sudo umount /dev/sdb1

Now that the drive has been unmounted, we can format it using the mkfs utility.

sudo mkfs.exfat /dev/sdb1

Once formatting is complete, we can check its status using the fsck command.

sudo fsck /dev/sdb1

Your output will vary depending on the drive you formatted, but it will resemble something like this:

fsck from util-linux 2.36
exfatfsck 1.3.0
Checking file system on /dev/sdb1.
File system version           1.0
Sector size                 512 bytes
Cluster size                 32 KB
Volume size                7633 MB
Used space                 3041 KB
Available space            7631 MB
Totally 1 directories and 3 files.
File system checking finished. No errors found.

A benefit of using fsck is that will also remount the drive for you, making it ready to use.

You can verify it again using your systems file explorer. Here I’m using Dolphin, the explorer built into Kubuntu.

Navigate to the drive, right click on it, and pick Properties.

In the properties window it will show you the file system. As you can see, it has been formatted to exFAT.

Conclusion

In this post we saw how to format a drive for exFAT on three operating systems. You can now format a drive using any of the OS’s, and be able to use it across all of them.

Sharing a Drive Between Windows, macOS and Linux

I have a lot of computers, on which I use a variety of operating systems. Some run Windows 10, my Apple macBooks all run macOS, and on others I have a variety of Linux distros, primarily Ubuntu based.

I would like the ability to share external drives, such as thumb drives or external SSD drives, between them. To get that compatibility across OS’s, I need to format those drives in a file format called exFAT.

exFAT is a replacement for the older FAT32, but has the benefits of other file systems such as NTFS. I can have long file names, and store files bigger than four gigabytes in size to name a few.

Windows and macOS both support exFAT out of the box. I can just plug in an exFAT drive into them, and both will let me read and write to them. (Note that not all drives come formatted as exFAT, you may need to reformat them to the exFAT system). Linux, however is another story.

To allow Linux to read an exFAT drive you need to install the exfat-utils utility. On Ubuntu based distros it’s pretty easy, just open up a terminal and enter the following command, all on one line.

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

For other distros you can use their native installer, such as yum, to install the exfat-utils. After that you can simply plug an exFAT thumb drive or SSD into your Linux box and it will know how to read and write to the drive.

Adjust the Screen Resolution of an Ubuntu Hyper-V Virtual Machine

I use Ubuntu for a lot of the courses I teach, due to its popularity. While I have some computers running it “bare metal” as they say, in order to test different scenarios, as well as record my Pluralsight courses, I also setup virtual machines within Hyper-V.

It’s a bit annoying though, as it doesn’t seem to allow the guest extensions to easily resize the VM. (I create my VMs from the downloaded ISOs as opposed to using the pre-built images in the Hyper-V store). But it can be done! All you need is a few quick edits to the grub file.

Start by opening up a terminal window. Then you can use your favorite editor to open the grub file. I’m using VIM in this example, but you could substitute nano or another text editor of your choice. (I’ll assume you know how to use your editor to edit and save changes.)

sudo vim /etc/default/grub

Now scroll down and find the line that begins with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT. To the end of it, append the following string:

video=hyperv_fb:1280x720

Or use 1920×1080, 2560×1440, or whatever resolution you prefer. The line should look something like the following, all on one line without any wrapping.

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash video=hyperv_fb:1280x720"

Looking good, but you’re not quite done yet. You’ll need to append the same to the next line so it looks similar to the following, again all on one line with no wrapping.

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="quiet splash video=hyperv_fb:1280x720"

Of course, you’ll want to make sure the resolution you select matches on both lines, 1920×1080, etc.

Now save the contents and exit your editor.

Next, and this is an important step, you have to update grub using the following command:

sudo update-grub

If you skip this step, you won’t see your resolution updated.

Finally, you’ll need to reboot. I’ve not had great success with doing a reboot of Ubuntu running in Hyper-V, it frequently hangs, so I suggest doing a power off, then start Ubuntu again in Hyper-V.

When it does reboot, you should be running at your new resolution.

Getting Started with PowerShell Core on Linux and macOS

My newest course, Getting Started with PowerShell Core on Linux and macOS, is now live on Pluralsight! This course is my eighteenth in a long line of Pluralsight courses.

I begin the course explaining the difference between PowerShell for Windows (version 5.1) and the all-new PowerShell Core (version 6.2 was used for this course), which works not only on Windows but on Linux and macOS as well. I then show how to install PowerShell Core, along with a few other key components such as Visual Studio Code, on both Linux and macOS.

Not familiar with PowerShell? No problem! I quickly cover the basics of PowerShell including cmdlets, the use of the pipeline, how to write functions, and how to put those functions in reusable scripts.

As if that weren’t enough, I show how to do some “cool things” with PowerShell Core, including working with Docker containers, SQL Server, and Azure.

For the course, I primarily used Ubuntu 19.04 and macOS Mojave. The code was also tested on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 18.10, as well as macOS High Sierra. In addition, I tested the Linux installs on a variety of distributions including CentOS, Manjaro, and more. The samples include markdown files with information on how to install on these other distributions.

All of the samples are included in the downloadable components of the course on Pluralsight. New with this course I have the samples also available on my GitHub site. As I move into the future the GitHub codebase will be updated with new samples and information.

Also included in the samples are several markdown files that have additional information not included in the course, such as setting VSCode on Windows to use PowerShell Core instead of Windows PowerShell 5.1 as the default terminal.

While you are up on my GitHub site be sure to check out the full list of repositories, I have a lot of examples on it, including some from previous courses such as my recent Reporting Services course. (For a full list of my courses just check out the About ArcaneCode page on this site.)

Note the sample file on Pluralsight will remain static, so if someone watches the course their samples will reflect what is in the course. For the latest updated samples see the GitHub site referenced above.

What? You don’t have a Pluralsight subscription yet? Well, no worries dear reader, just email me, free @ arcanetc.com and I can send you a code good for 30 days with which you can watch all 18 of my courses, plus anyone else’s course at Pluralsight.

Setting Your Ubuntu 18.10 Favorites Bar In A Script

Of late I’ve been setting up and tearing down a lot of Ubuntu virtual machines as part of a PowerShell Core on Linux and macOS course I’m working on for Pluralsight. I wanted to create a script to install everything I need in one fell swoop so I could start testing my PowerShell Core code on a new box.

The one thing that annoyed me though was the Ubuntu Favorites bar on the left. I wanted to be able to add and remove my favorited automatically, rather than manually setting them up each time.

I didn’t think it’d be that hard, but it took a surprising amount of web searching to find the correct answer.

From inside a bash terminal session, you can issue the following command:

/usr/bin/gsettings get org.gnome.shell favorite-apps
(If /usr/bin is in your path, which it likely is, you could omit that part as we’ll see in a moment.) This will produce an array containing a list of your favorites.
['ubiquity.desktop', 'firefox.desktop', 'thunderbird.desktop', 'org.gnome.Nautilus.desktop', 'rhythmbox.desktop', 'libreoffice-writer.desktop', 'org.gnome.Software.desktop', 'yelp.desktop', 'ubuntu-amazon-default.desktop']
I’ve seen all sorts of suggestions on how to update the array, Use Python, Ruby, you could even use PowerShell to rearrange it if you wanted. To be honest though, I took the simple approach.
I just set my favorites manually, one last time. That way I could let Ubuntu tell me the correct application names to use in the background, without having to hunt them down. Once I had them set, I simply ran the gsettings get command (see above) again to get the list of apps, in the order I wanted them.
I then used gsettings again, this time in set mode.
gsettings set org.gnome.shell favorite-apps "['firefox.desktop', 'org.gnome.Terminal.desktop', 'org.gnome.Nautilus.desktop', 'code_code.desktop', 'azuredatastudio.desktop', 'org.gnome.Software.desktop', 'yelp.desktop']"
Just add this to your setup bash script, or enter it at the terminal, and ta-da! Your favorites are now setup like you want.
Naturally all of this is entered as a single line, this is just wrapped here due to space. Also, these are the favorites I want for my situation. Rather than just copy and pasting above, follow my suggestion to set things up manually, then use the output of gsettings get as input for the set.
I have tested this in Ubuntu 18.10, in theory it should work in 18.04 as well. I would imagine it would also work in 19.04 when it’s released, I’ll come back and update this post once I’ve had time to test it.