I have a question about the difference between 'ntfs' and 'ntfs-3g' in the filesystem type field in the /etc/fstab file. My Linux distribution is Xubuntu; I suppose the answer may well vary between distros.

My question is basically which is best to use in which contexts. It seems that most websites tell you to use 'ntfs-3g', which is a FUSE driver for NTFS under linux. From some searching around it seems to be the case that 'ntfs' (without the -3g part) typically refers to a kernel driver, rather than the ntfs-3g userland driver. The only problem with that is that I've been using 'ntfs' in my fstabs rather than 'ntfs-3g', while a check of /proc/filesystems doesn't show any listing for ntfs.

Can anyone shed some light on what the precise difference in semantics (if there is any) is between 'ntfs' and 'ntfs-3g'? Is it safe to assume that if mount sees 'ntfs' it will search for a driver which supports that type of filesystem and find the ntfs-3g driver if it's installed?

EDIT: I forgot to add that 'ntfs' has worked whenever I've used it -- I was simply curious as to the answer, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't doing something iffy.

2 Answers 2


They're identical - both use ntfs-3g in (current) Ubuntu; the ntfs utils are just symlinked to ntfs-3g.

# which mount.ntfs
# which mount.ntfs-3g
# ls /sbin/mount.ntfs* -l
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 13 2011-03-01 21:13 /sbin/mount.ntfs -> mount.ntfs-3g
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 12 2011-03-01 21:13 /sbin/mount.ntfs-3g -> /bin/ntfs-3g
  • 1
    File system utils are trixy things. fsck/e2fsck will take you down a rabbit hole of symlinks too. Especially on a RedHat based distro.
    – Wesley
    Aug 24, 2011 at 7:16

The traditional NTFS kernel driver is read only. If you use ntfs in your fstab it will attempt to use that kernel driver, and mount your NTFS as read only

The ntfs-3g is the newer FUSE driver (as you mention) and will mount the partitions as read-write is you use it in NTFS.

Some distros have started treating them as one and the same, but as of about a year ago, using ntfs in fstab in Ubuntu would result in the file system not being writeable. I guess it might depend upon the version of Xubuntu you have installed.

  • Thanks for your answer! I accepted Shane Madden's answer because he was just a bit faster, but your answer was also very helpful.
    – Joseph
    Aug 28, 2011 at 22:54

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