As we showed you in the previous section, it is possible to use the MTools utilities to access a DOS-formatted hard disk partition, and you can even mount a DOS-formatted disk onto the Linux file system with mmount. These methods can be used on a dual-boot system containing a MS-DOS partition, but there’s a better way.
As we’ve explained in section Section 6.1.2 in Chapter 6, partitions on local hard disks are accessed by mounting them onto a directory in the Linux file system. In order to be able to read and write to a specific filesystem, the Linux kernel needs to have support for it.
Linux has filesystem drivers that can read and write files on the traditional FAT filesystem and the newer VFAT filesystem, which was introduced with Windows 95 and supports long filenames. It also can read (and with some caveats) write to the NTFS filesystem of Windows NT/2000/XP.
In Section 7.4 in Chapter 7, you learned how to build your own kernel. In order to be able to access DOS (used by MS-DOS and Windows 3.x) and VFAT (used by Windows 95/98/ME) partitions, you need to enable DOS FAT fs support in the File systems section during kernel configuration. After you say yes to that option, you can choose MSDOS fs support and VFAT (Windows-95) fs support. The first lets you mount FAT partitions and the second lets you mount FAT32 partitions.
If you want to access files on a Windows NT partition that carries an NTFS filesystem, you need another driver. Activate the option NTFS ...