External USB hard-disk drives – compatibility

Asked by Mike K on 2008-09-17

Ubuntu 8.04
Advertisements for external USB hard-disk drives mention compatibility with various versions of Windows and MacOS. No mention of Linux, but that is normal. :-)

Do I need software to run one of these devices under Ubuntu?
Can I just plug it in (like a memory stick) and will it be recognised and usable?
Is the “compatibility” merely with the bundled software used for backups?

Many thanks for your help,

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Solved by:
Simon Jenkinson
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Simon Jenkinson (sjenks) said : #1

Have you tried to just plug the drive in, most should work and be displayed on the Desktop as an additional drive similar to a USB memory stick.. although some may show as FAT32, NTFS or whatever but this should not be a problem for Linux.

I can think of many that won't work, just the bundled software that will more than likely not work under Linux.


Mike K (emay-kirk) said : #2


Perhaps I did not make it clear - I have not yet purchased an external USB hard-drive. Before doing so, I want to know if I will run into any compatibility problems. I do not want to spend money for nothing. You think that most of these devices should just show up as an additional drive, like a memory stick?

Should your last sentence read, "I CAN'T think of many that won't work."?

Are there any manufacturers to be avoided because of problems with Linux?

Many thanks for your help,

Andrew (and471) said : #3

The external hard drive I had worked both as a NAS drive amd a SB, so I think you should be pretty safe in any you buy.

Andrew (and471) said : #4

The external hard drive I had worked both as a NAS drive and a USB drive, so I think you should be pretty safe with any you buy.

Best Simon Jenkinson (sjenks) said : #5


yes your quite right it should have read CAN'T (Thanks for the correction)

From what I have used and from what I have bought myself even the cheap external hard drives be it 2.5" or 3.5" have worked with Ubuntu and other Distro's and yes once connected onto your system they should all display on the desktop.

And as rugby471 states some work as both NAS (Network Storage) and as USB drive..

FYI I just checked Maplins website and found a Seagate USB drive which does state it works with Linux but you cannot use the sleep function so the drive is always on... http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=217655&source=1

They should just plug in and work with Linux.....

Mike K (emay-kirk) said : #6

Many thanks for your replies. It seems that I can buy one of these drives with no problems.


Mike K (emay-kirk) said : #7

Thanks Simon Jenkinson, that solved my question.