Tested: FUSE for macOS, ext4 storage, and macOS Sierra Part 2

Continued from Tested: FUSE for macOS, ext4 storage, and macOS Sierra Part 1

Setting up FUSE-Ext2

After installing FUSE for macOS, users can build FUSE-Ext2 using the commands provided from the  Fuse-ext2 GitHub page. Experienced users and developers will no doubt already have the command line developer tools installed on their macOS machines. However, for new users or non-developers, you will be prompted to install macOS developer tools to run the make command necessary for building FUSE-ext2.

Note: The commands provided in the GitHub page for fuse-ext2 are well-written and organized and it's unnecessary to include them in this article. As a technical writer, I appreciate how well thought out the lines were despite the Test failing and build errors on macOS Sierra.  FreeBSD users will notice parallels in terms of the process, although Linux users will find the manual installation lengthy and cumbersome in comparison to using a package manager or binary.

Using FUSE to mount an ext-formatted drive

The developers note that there is an issue with mounting EXT drives using FUSE on Mac OS X El Capitan and this issue extends to macOS Sierra. The solution involves mounting and unmounting the ext4 partition using sudo.

For this article, the 120 GB ext4 SSD was connected to the MacBook Air using a USB 3.0 Orico hard drive dock. 

To access an ext4 hard drive using FUSE for macOS:

1. Connect the USB external hard drive doc to the USB port of the Mac.

2. Check the device identifier using Disk Utility or using the command diskutil list in Terminal.

The following screenshots list the ext 4 SSD as disk2.

The ext4 drive in Disk Utility.
The ext4 drive as listed using the diskutil list command.

3. Create a mount point. 

For this example, the folder /Users/<user>/Downloads/mnt was created for mounting the external drive.

Note: Surprisingly, users in the forums suggested switching to root and creating  a folder in the /Volumes path in macOS. This is unnecessary.

4. Run the mount command as sudo specifying fuse-ext2 as the format.

sudo mount -t fuse-ext2 <device identifier> <mount point>

For this example, the following command was executed:

sudo mount -t fuse-ext2 /dev/disk2s2 /Users/<user>/Downloads/mnt

Note: The developers don't recommend using the -o force option to enable write to ext4-formatted drives. In my tests, write access worked with the force option but was unreliable and had occasional permissions issues.

5. Verify if the mount folder lists the ext4 storage contents using Finder.

For this example, the hard drive has a label of macos-test.  

6. Once you are done accessing the drive, unmount the storage using the umount command.

For this example, the following command was executed:

sudo umount /dev/disk2s2

Additional Notes

1. When mounting the ext4 storage, you may encounter an ambiguous error message. If you encounter this issue, check that you used sudo for the mount command.

2. Writing to the ext4 storage after mounting using the -o force option was unreliable. Files would disappear after remounting. Reading content, however, didn't have any issues.

3. Mounting the ext4 storage may fail if the storage is encrypted or additional parameters were configured on the drive when it was used with a Linux PC. 


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