A subject that I have very recently become familiar with
As noted, any modern USB drive should work fine, at a hardware level, with Mac OS X and Linux. The format is the only issue.
Out of the box, OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and Linux have read-only access to NTFS. All should be good if all you want to do is read files from the external drive on either platform.
If you want to write files, you need to use additional drivers.
In my configuration (Mac OS X), I needed to read/write NTFS, so I looked at two options:
[ul][li]Use a utility called MacFUSE witha driver called NTFS-3g[/li][li]Use a commercial product from Paragon software.[/ul][/li]I opted for the commercial product since it is supposed to be faster, it definitely is easier to install, and it should be supported by them.
It’s a bit pricy at 39.95.
One can always reformat the new drive as HFS+ for Mac or ext3 for Linux, but then you have a similar problem trying to write to the partition from Windows.
Of course, one may ask “Why not just use FAT32”?
The main reason folks go to other file systems is file size: FAT32 cannot handle the huge files one generates when dealing with video.
My reason was a little bit more technical: I am using rsync to create my backups, and I discovered that the timestamp of FAT32 files cannot be before 1980 and has a resolution of two seconds.
I have some scanned photos from 1977, which I gave an exif date of 1977 and a file timestamp to match. When I do a backup, these constantly got copied over since the target drive always turned the 1977 to 1980.
The time resolution is a tricky issue. Since my machine’s file system has timestamp resolution of 1 second, whenever there was a timestamp of an odd second, it would be rounded to the nearest even second on FAT32, and rsync would treat the files as different and recopy tons of stuff. There is a command line switch in rsync to avoid this, but why bother? Why not use a better file system (NTFS)?
I reformatted to NTFS from a Windows machine and am now test driving the Paragon NTFS drivers for Mac. Seems to be working like a charm!
My first backup is complete.