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ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards 345

An anonymous reader writes Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel and designed by Google to work with web applications and installed applications. Chromebook is one of the best selling laptops on Amazon. However, devs decided to drop support for ext2/3/4 on external drivers and SD card. It seems that ChromiumOS developers can't implement a script or feature to relabel EXT volumes in the left nav that is insertable and has RW privileges using Given that this is the main filesystem in Linux, and is thereby automatically well supported by anything that leverages Linux, this choice makes absolutely no sense. Google may want to drop support for external storage and push the cloud storage on everyone. Overall Linux users and community members are not happy at all.
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ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12, 2014 @09:37AM (#48123459)

    Whenever Chromebooks and ChromeOS comes up, somebody always points out those Amazon stats.

    But are they actually legitimate sales?

    By that, I'm asking if people actually bought these devices because they wanted to use them as Chromebooks running ChromeOS.

    How many were technically-naive purchasers merely buying the cheapest laptops available, thinking they were typical Windows laptops, and not realizing that ChromeOS is actually so crippled?

    How many were technically-savvy purchasers merely buying them so they could replace ChromeOS with a real Linux distro or some other OS?

    Did anyone actually buy them intending to use ChromeOS?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:04AM (#48123563)

      cheap, works, not too upset when 7 year old drops it, keeps him from attempting to use my good laptop, and avoids paying the windows tax.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12, 2014 @02:33PM (#48125043)

        Somewhere, somehow those programmers must be paid.

        Now it can either be by people buying the product, or it can be by moneytising your information for adverts.

        Given that Apple, Microsoft, Google etc a re large contributors to open source they are not "gifting" their staff time, they see money in it.

        So one way or another, you ARE paying for it.... call it a tax if you will,, but you ARE paying it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Running Arch on an acer c720 for about a year. Bought for that purpose.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:07AM (#48123573) Homepage
      I bought one to try it out with the knowledge end expectation that I could install Mint on it. I've switched it to developer mode (and back), but I haven't found any need for running actual applications on it. What I wanted was a very light laptop with a reasonable screen/keyboard (no netbooks), and it fits the bill perfectly (plus 6 second cold-boot time).

      It does everything that a normal person could want - I use it for email, browsing the web, uploading pictures from a camera SD card, streaming music, editing powerpoint (through google presentations). It even has a built in SSH client for remoting into other machines via terminal as well as a remote desktop app.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:27AM (#48123633)

        It does everything that a normal person could want...

        If they drop EXT2/3/4 it will cease doing everything a normal person could want. Hence the article.

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:05AM (#48123855) Journal

        Same here. I had used Linix exclusively for fifteen years, so I installed a full-featured Linux distribution for dual boot. It's never been booted to the big Linux except that one day. ChromeOS does everything we've ever wanted to do on a small machine. Almost everything I do with my $2,500 big machine could be done within ChromeOS too, but for some things you want a 22 inch screen.

        • Almost everything I do with my $2,500 big machine could be done within ChromeOS too, but for some things you want a 22 inch screen.

          Why do you have an expensive big machine then? Why not a cheap one with an external screen?

          I'm unusual, but most of what I do can't be done well on ChromeOS. For me, a netboo kcan do most of what I do anyway, just more slowly and on a smaller screen.

        • by bongey ( 974911 )

          but for some things you want a 22 inch screen.

          Guess a chromebook isn't good for porn.

    • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:38AM (#48123699)

      Google Apps, combined with Chromebooks is a very compelling platform for schools.

      We are deploying tons of these. They are cheap to buy, easy to manage, and great for 90% of the work that students are asked to do. (We use Macs for the other 10%).

      When a kid drops a $1000 Macbook, I cringe. I cringe at the cost, and at the loss of whatever data that kid saved to his/her desktop. When that same kid drops a $250 chromebook, the hardware loss isn't too terrible, and I know that kid's data is saved to their Google Drive - automatically.

      These things are fantastic in schools.

      • by mystikkman ( 1487801 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:23AM (#48123945)

        Yet you don't cringe at all the snooping that Google is doing with student the information. []

        >I know that kid's data is saved to their Google Drive - automatically.
        Where it can be mined for showing ads.

        Fantastic, indeed, but for Google, not for the students.

        • Can you provide compelling evidence that Microsoft, Apple, or Yahoo, are any better?

        • There are no ads in either the Google Apps for Education service or the Nonprofit service.

          From the Google Apps for Education - Common Questions:

          "For all EDU domains ads are turned off in Google Apps for Education services and K-12 Google Apps for Education users will not see ads when they use Google Search signed in to their Apps for Education accounts."

          As far as "student records privacy" goes, there is tons of case law siding with schools and email providers - there is no expectation of privacy when you ar

      • by Retron ( 577778 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @01:18PM (#48124577)

        I work in a school's IT department and we won't be touching Chromebooks with a 50-foot bargepole. We use a mixture of desktops and laptops running Windows 7 and Office 2013 - which costs far less than it would commercially. We also use SCCM to manage the 1,000 or so PCs and laptops (generic i3s and Core2 Duos from the likes of Lenovo and HP) we have in the school.

        Data is kept locally and is backed up in various ways (ranging from blu-ray to SANs), with the data stored in various parts of the site. Nothing gets stored on the pupils PCs other than temporary data when they're using the PC - their work is all accessed from our network servers.

        Cloud access is something we work against for pupils, as it's an excellent way of them wasting time with Flash games etc - kids are very inventive when it comes to playing games (I know, I was exactly the same at school in the 90s!) and it's easier to curtail games on our system than it would be with Chromebooks.That's leaving aside the privacy situation, which doesn't fill me with joy: on a personal level I won't put anything of importance in the cloud, as I simply don't know who'll have access to it. Whereas data on my own network here is much easier to keep tabs on...

        • by kiwi_james ( 512638 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @08:51PM (#48126739)

          There's a number of aspects of what you said that are inaccurate, and I believe the approach you're taking is deficient in a number of areas.

          Let me cover a few of these off:

          1. Cloud access does not lead to wasting time with flash games.

          Firstly, I think you are confusing cloud computing with Internet access. Leverage a cloud service (e.g. Google Apps or some SaaS based learning service) is completely different to unfettered internet access to play flash games. If your school chose to use Google Apps or Office 365 it doesn't all of a sudden mean a deluge of flash games.

          2. Chromebooks can be managed with Chrome Management Console

          With the Chrome Management Console you can control a vast array of policies - such as URLs that can be visited, what can be installed etc. All reasonably similar to the level of control you may have now on your windows machines. However, Chromebooks go beyond this as it is much harder for a student to bypass the controls that Chromebooks have as they is so locked down and have TPM for verified boot etc. So your statement that it's easier to "curtail games on your system" is probably false. For a brief summary, look here: [] there's a whole lot more info on the detailed policies if you search for it.

          3. The hidden cost and inefficient of managing your own onsite storage and backup.

          You're almost spending more money than you need to managing your own infrastructure. Your cost of storage is certainly an order of magnitude higher than Google's due to their scale. You're doing backups - but it sounds like they're on site. Where's your geographic redundancy? Google will store your data across multiple geographically separate datacentres and manage all the infrastructure for you.

          4. Your unjustified fear of losing control

          You seem to still believe that Google is mining kid's information to serve them ads - yet Google Apps for education doesn't serve any ads. (
          You also seem to believe that using the cloud means you don't know who will access it. In fact Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc. all make it pretty clear the controls they put in place regarding security and privacy - and back these up with SLAs etc. I'd have a lot more confidence in their security and privacy controls than in your own IT team. This is probably most contenious area, but you could start by talking to other schools who have made the shift to see how they overcame these kind of concerns.

          I get that change is scary - and there's a lot of cloud FUD out there. But I'd really suggest you take the time to understand as it is fundamentally shifting how the vast majority of IT systems are delivered. I also think that keeping on doing things how you've always done them isn't a sustainable strategy in the long run.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Google Apps, combined with Chromebooks is a very compelling platform for schools.

        We are deploying tons of these. They are cheap to buy, easy to manage, and great for 90% of the work that students are asked to do. (We use Macs for the other 10%).

        Would "introduction to programming" for high school juniors be among this 10%?

    • by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <> on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:58AM (#48123821)

      Probably most of them. The drivers don't exist for Windows, and installing a Linux distro is a little more complicated than you might hope for. Plus, there are some actual benefits to ChomeOS, mostly that it will back up your files for you, and that it boots in seconds (maybe a total of ten seconds from clicking reboot to having all the browser windows open again), but it's also more secure than Linux. Security is achieved at the cost of making it hard to change the system.

      Also keep in mind, these things ship with a 16GB SSD. You can install a couple Linux distributions in that space, but it's pretty cramped for any sort of content: you're not going to be gaming or torrenting very much. Increasing the storage is possible, but if you're going to buy a $200 laptop and a $100 SSD, you may as well buy a real laptop.

      Generally speaking, it's a nice, cheap, internet appliance, for those who want a keyboard instead of a touchscreen. It's really not that bad of a user experience. I have been leaving mine around the house for the roommates; they browse the web, listen to music, watch movies, and type their resumes. I don't know what other features you think it needs.

      • I disagree with your "might as well buy a real laptop" statement. I see nothing wrong with buying a $200 Chromebook and attaching an external drive, whether a $100-$200 SSD or a $70 TB HD. My Chromebook has a usb 3 port. Very handy for attaching external HDs/SSDs. My chromebook is the higher model @ $250.

        I agree Chromebooks are useful. One thing is certain. I will definitely be forking the Chrome OS on any future chromes I might buy, to add back in support for ext2/3/4. Or I may buy a second one which sti

        • by KozmoStevnNaut ( 630146 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @02:26PM (#48124993)

          From reading the linked proposal to drop ext2/3/4 support, there has been a lot of pushback from users, particularly developers and other power users. As far as I can gather, especially from comment #101, they are taking this feedback very seriously, and are looking into either making ext2/3/4 work with the feature that was supposedly the reason for dropping support, and/or finding an alternative way of supporting external drives with those file systems.

          To me, this smells a lot like a couple of developers thinking they could pull a fast one and drop file systems they considered "unneeded", but now that feedback has been received, the overall feeling I get is "let's find a way to make this work". There may also have been a possible security risk with rogue disk images that needs to be handled.

    • by orlanz ( 882574 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:34AM (#48124023)

      I would assume so. These devices are 200 to 400 dollars each. That is still a lot of money. People would have returned them or at least posted very negative reviews if they got something unexpected. But it seems even with 1000 reviews these devices have very good 4 to 5 star ratings. So I would say they are valid purchases.

    • It is easy to be the "top selling laptop" when there's about a couple ChromeOS models, pitted against 60+ PC laptops or more that sometimes differ by one component or memory amount.
      iPod was simarly the top MP3 player, or even "sold more than all others combined" but the cheapie no-brand ones had more sales by the many millions, only they were a great many different products and weren't even accounted for - it's probably impossible to know how many there are.

  • Customer Service (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is so that they don't have to deal with the customer service complaints when a disk works in a chromebook but then doesn't on a PC .... wait, customer service? Nevermind.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @09:49AM (#48123503)

    I have zero experience with Chrome OS. But if there is a commandline and if you can get root on that, you can mount whatever storage device the kernel sees and has the filesystem compiled into.

    So while this might no be an example of how GUIs are limited compared to the commandline, it is an example how a GUI can be designed to artificially limit and control you. Of course, nobody should buy anything that is defective by design as this thing now seems to be.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, it's just an example of a relatively new mentality in software development. If the metrics say that few people use a certain troublesome feature, let's just ax it, nevermind the legitimate reasons that the few who do use it have. It reveals lazyness and narrow mindedness.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:01AM (#48123549) Homepage
      Yes and No. You can get a VERY basic terminal by typing ctrl-alt-T, but really all it can do is ssh to something else. If you change it into developer mode (takes a bit longer to boot), then you get access to root/full terminal.
      • Press ctrl-D to bypass the initial long boot.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        So basically, there is some little merit to the complaint. The take-away message for me is to never buy such a device, unless I am sure I can wipe the trash from its disk and install something sane. While developer-mode seems to be a valid work-around, even attempts to limit me that severely in "normal" mode are a severe defect IMO.

    • by Adam Simons ( 2881717 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:21AM (#48123605)
      I think the article hits it head-on about pushing users toward cloud storage, specifically Google Drive. I just got a Droid Maxx with KitKat and was shocked to find they had removed the ability to mount USB drives via USB OTG. Had to root my phone and install USB OTG Helper to have that basic functionality again. Obviously, the support is still there in the kernel; just the userspace access was removed, and USB OTG Helper was able to mount my flash drives successfully, even NTFS. Did I mention the Droid Maxx (made by Motorola after Google's acquisition) lacks an SD card? The 32 GB model was discontinued, so this is the 16 GB version and a Verizon exclusive, so you KNOW it's full of unremovable bloatware further depleting its limited, unexpandable storage. They tried to justify this by including 50 GB of Google Drive space for 2 years, but cloud storage should not be a replacement for local storage, only a supplement. Also, what if I did jump in feet-first and use all that extra space? What happens to my data 2 years from now? It's essentially being held hostage by the free "trial". Thankfully I only use cloud storage as off-site backup for important documents; I also store them in encrypted containers to prevent them from being data mined. Also, cloud storage is a pain when you have metered internet. I love me some Google products, but their "don't be evil" philosophy has gone out the window long ago.
      • Google has consistently refused (without actually refusing, just ignoring patches) to implement various things in Android, like ad-hoc wifi. Luckily there's Cyanogenmod. Hopefully they will take up USB OTG as a cause one day.

      • See i thought native USB OTG was added to KitKat. I can OTG on my Moto G natively, its right in the Storage UI, but not my Jelly Bean Nexus 7.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Cloud storage is a real POS. You need a fast net, you surrender control, it is usually too expensive, and, on top of that, the NSA gets full access to everything in a conveniently searchable fashion.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Metered/capped internet. Let us not forget about the scourge of metered internet. We can have ubiquitous cloud services and storage OR metered internet, NOT both.
  • Open Source? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @09:52AM (#48123517)

    If so, why can't members of the Linux community write the required code to support EXT2/3/4 properly, since Google's team can't?

    Instead of bitching about losing the feature, zero in on the alleged problem, and provide a solution so it can be reinstated.

    Problem solved.

    • Open Source != GPLv3. People can write all the code that they like but unless Google want to, their chances of actually seeing that code running on Chromebooks is zero. In this case, Google have already decided that the feature (which is already there) has to go, because simplicity.
      • No. From reading the linked discussion (before people started having shitfits), a dev suggested removing extFS support as "an unnecessary feature" because of theoretical security issues and because it interfered with implementing file system renaming (which looks to be surprisingly tricky to do right). In no time at all, objections were posted, some of them rather aggressive in tone.

        One of the last comments before disallowing further comments was that they were looking into keeping extFS support, but throwi

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      > If so, why can't members of the Linux community write the required code to support EXT2/3/4 properly, since Google's team can't?

      They already did. That's why Google's claims seem so assinine.

    • If so, why can't members of the Linux community write the required code to support EXT2/3/4 properly, since Google's team can't?

      They can, it's been in Linux since for ever.

      Instead of bitching about losing the feature, zero in on the alleged problem, and provide a solution so it can be reinstated.

      OK, I'll just grab the source code. Hang on, it's not available.

      • I posted the question honestly (Not sure what moran gave me a Troll mod for my question) - I know ChromiumOS is open sourced, I was not sure how available the source was for Chrome OS.

        That said, if the issue is not an issue in ChromiumOS, Google has some serious questions to answer.

    • That's true. I thought about digging into it, but given my schedule vs how much I care, I'll probably not spend the time on it.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @09:57AM (#48123531) Homepage Journal

    By the way, what a horrendous summary.

    Sergey Brin needs to remind himself what country he escaped as a child and stop helping American versions of the FSB from growing their powers. Of-course he hasn't been through a TSA experience himself and I am sure his and his family privacy are safe from Google's data mining operation, but he should not kid himself, he is on a special list of persons of interest, USA powers that be are certainly paying close attention to high profile targets like Brin and other influential and wealthy individuals. Does he really want to increase their powers? It would be a grave error on his part because private property rights are quite transient in the United Socialist States of Republicans (and Democrats).
    Keeping all private information on line, where it can be data mined by Google and the NSA is profitable for Google but it also grows the power of the state and people should think really hard about letting the state have all that power.

    • by bmajik ( 96670 ) <> on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:11AM (#48123587) Homepage Journal


      Another adage seems appropriate.

      If a for profit company is taking care of you for free, you aren't the customer.. you're the product.

      You should feel like a pig on a farm....well fed and happy right until the end.

      Google's business model has always been about analyzing your data and selling "you" to others.
      They need your data.

      Each person needs to decide for themselves if what they're getting (free web email?) is worth what they're "selling" to google and others..

      btw, I started using facebook's ads manager earlier this week for a project. If you haven't looked at it before, you should. The amount of data facebook thinks it knows about people and that it is willing to let advertisers target is pretty interesting.

    • We I the summary it makes totally sense.

  • it's to make it easier to migrate from Windows. just like MS allowed you to buy an upgrade version of MS Office in the 90's if you had a competing Office program

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:29AM (#48123645)

    The target market for the units isn't uber-geeks, it's home users. Those home users will virtually always be inserting memory cards from their camera and attaching external drives they picked up at the local electronics store. As long as the boxes can talk to those, Google is fine.

    Why bother developing, testing, and supporting a feature that few in their target market will ever use?

    • by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:57AM (#48123815) Homepage

      Why bother developing, testing, and supporting a feature that few in their target market will ever use?

      Because Google has a vested interest in the next generation of SD card not having patented and royalty incurring filesystem such as exFAT as the mandated standard. The more they can support TF card hardware spec instead of the SD card "experience" spec the better it will be for all of us. Except for Google's main competition in the laptop market that is.

      As it stands now every smartphone with an SD card has as part of its manufacturing cost about $2 going straight to Microsoft for the privilege of using exFAT, because the SD standards committee in their wisdom decided that SD cards can't be called SD cards without it.

  • Buy a real laptop if you want to do whatever you want with it. If you buy (?) a locked-down device, which is controlled by a remote commercial entity and not by you, then don't act surprised when they don't support some use case of yours which doesn't help them make money.
    • nothing was extinguished, those who are not lazy gits can mount any Linux supported filesystem. But more than 99% of people don't want nor need to do that.

        No business has to waste time or money to support a weird niche market and a technically inferior and badly designed filesystem such as ext2 or 3. Filesystem design is not one of Linus' strong suits. Linux users should stop using the ext family, grub supports superior alternatives.

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        Just because it isn't the best it's already there and we have to live with it. There are worse filesystems out there than the ext family of filesystems.

        To name one: FAT.

  • I bought an Acer Chromebook c720. Wiped ChromeOS and installed Bodhi Linux.

    Nothing wrong with ChromeOS that Linix can't fix.

  • Google appears to be jumping on the rental business model. If you have to store stuff in the cloud, chances are you'll have to store stuff in their cloud (hey hey you you get off of my cloud). Eventually, you won't be able to move your data off of their cloud and once they get a captive audience, they'll start charging for it somehow.
    Some might say that Google has now become "The Man" so stick it to The Man and buy a real computer.

    • This is my biggest problem with the cloud as being implemented. I cant pop up my own cloud and point to that, i can only go to whatever strategic partner the device has a deal with. No Sony, i dont want to send my pictures to facebook or flickr from my camera, encrypt them and send them to my home network directly.....
  • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:48AM (#48124115)

    Last time I tried, linux couldn't fsck or chkdsk the NTFS file system. Need to boot into Windows.
    So, with this Chrome thing you can use an external hard drive, but if it's become corrupt you need a Windows laptop or desktop to fix the drive's content.
    But maybe file system checks are deemed too confusing and are inaccessible from the GUI regardless of the file system, I don't know.

    • by Sangui5 ( 12317 )

      The developers of the NTFS support for Linux do have a fsck implemented. It does a pretty good job. However, since they've done a black-box re-implementation, they rightfully aren't willing to 100% guarantee they have everything correct. Hence, although it has been almost a decade since I've had trouble with Linux NTFS support causing a problem, the recommendation is still to run the native Windows chkdsk after the Linux one finds a problem, just in case.

      So, it isn't that you can't use a pure Linux toolc

  • by dalias ( 1978986 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:49AM (#48124119)
    Ext 2/3/4 and any filesystem that records file ownership (especially numeric uids/gids) is not suitable for storage that's not associated with a particular system's user account database (/etc/passwd or otherwise). Linux could attempt to support such usage by virtualizing/remapping uids for "external" ext2/3/4-formatted drives, but it doesn't. Instead, you have a situation where file ownership is just silently wrong when you plug the drive into a different computer. So removing support is a big hammer, but I see how they could see it as a justifiable one when the status quo is broken like this.
  • Reconsidering (Score:5, Informative)

    by JustShootMe ( 122551 ) <> on Sunday October 12, 2014 @12:14PM (#48124245) Homepage Journal

    If you read one of the last comments, they appear to have listened and are considering reconsidering this decision.

    Which marks the difference between a professional development shop such as Google, and Lennart Poettering.

  • ext2/3/4 has owners of files. It's a pain in the ass. eitehr you support it correctly (whihc is impossible if you dont manage the uid database for a single organization) or you make ugly patches which try to magically detect on which drives (removable) the os is supposed to drop uid infromation.
    The first approach is useless, and i see big legal issues with the second approach (if somebody indeed would rely on protecting infromation by uid)

    so better just stop it completely

  • by Rashkae ( 59673 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @05:02PM (#48125735) Homepage

    I searched 2 years ago for a means to mount ext4 filesystems with system assigned file ownership. I found many bug request asking for just such a feature, (and exactly for this reason, so the file system can be used on a device that is meant to be portable across different systems.)... but the devs handily found excuses to not do it. Maybe this will light a flame under the nether regions of the kernel devs in charge of the filesystem. EXT? is a great filesystem over all, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it for any system or permanent data drive, but what is really needed now, is a journaled filesystem that is designed with features for system protability.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes