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How to mount and manage non-native file systems in OS X with FUSE

Topher Kessler | Dec. 5, 2014
If you've ever dreamed of using Linux's Ext3 file system or writing to NTFS formatted volumes, FUSE is for you.


For NTFS support, one of the more popular FUSE modules is NTFS-3G, an open-source package from Tuxera. To acquire it you have several options. You can download an older precompiled version of NTFS-3G. The more technically inclined can download and compile the latest source code either directly from Tuxera or by using a package manager like MacPorts or Fink.

Once installed, an attached NTFS drive should be automatically recognized and mounted using NTFS-3G and FUSE. In addition, you should be able to format drives as NTFS using Disk Utility.

Using Ext3

For Linux Ext2 and Ext3 file systems, you can use the fuse-ext2 module, and then mount Ext2 and Ext3 drives using Terminal (automatic mounting and managing in Disk Utility is not yet supported). Follow these steps:

1. Install the ext2 FUSE module.

2. Enable Disk Utility's Debug menu, using the following command in Terminal, followed by opening Disk Utility and choosing the option in the Debug menu to show all partitions:

defaults write DUDebugMenuEnabled 1

3. Attach your ext2/ext3 drive and when it appears in Disk Utility (grayed out), select the volume and press Command-I to produce its Information window. In this window note the device name, which should be something like "disk2s2," or "disk3s2."

4. Create a new folder somewhere in your user account to use as a mount point for the drive (I recommend a folder called "mount" directly in your home folder).

5. Mount the drive using the following Terminal command syntax, replacing the device name and mount path with that of your disk and the path to the mount folder you created:

fuse-ext2 /dev/disk2s2 /Volumes/mountpoint

This will mount the drive as read-only, but you can use the "-o force" flag in the following manner to implement write support:

fuse-ext2 -o force /dev/disk2s2 /Volumes/mountpoint

After performing these steps, the ext2/ext3 drive will be fully accessible from the folder you created and specified to use as the mount point.


In addition to supporting locally attached drives, FUSE can be used to access remote systems and mount their shared resources locally. Granted, you can do this with SMB and AFP protocols when you have enabled File Sharing on a remote Mac, but since enabling SSH with the Remote Login service also enables SFTP access, you can use the SSHFS module for FUSE to access your Mac's files directly over the encrypted SFTP connection.

1. Download and install the SSHFS module (available from the FUSE for OS X page).

2. As with managing Ext2 and Ext3 drives, create a folder on your Mac to use as a mount point


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