File and Filesystem Compatibility

Linux desktop systems must frequently access files created by Windows computers, or store files in a way that Windows computers can handle. This task has two components. First, Linux must be able to read and write the filesystems used by Windows, at least when files are transferred on disks. Second, Linux applications must be able to process the file formats that are most commonly used on Windows. This second task can be broken down into many categories depending on the programs in question, and in this chapter I describe office file formats, PDF files, and archive files. I also provide some tips for transitioning a network from using Windows to one that uses Linux desktop systems.

Accessing Windows Disks and Filesystems

Before you can deal with file format issues, you must be able to access the files in question. In many networked environments, the easiest way to deal with this issue is to use the network. Tools like FTP and email can be a good way to transfer files, particularly over the Internet at large. The SMB/CIFS is a common file-sharing protocol among Windows systems, and using Linux as an SMB/CIFS client is described in detail in Chapter 6.

Sometimes, though, network protocols aren’t the best solution. Network bandwidth may be inadequate for delivering very large files, network firewalls might prevent data exchange, or one or both of the systems might not even be on a network. Such situations are particularly common when users want to ...

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