Explore2fs, the WIN32 explorer for Linux ext2fs partitions
written by John Newbigin

New Features in coming soon in version 1.08:

  • Unicode UTF-8 to UTF-16 conversion
  • Better support for removable devices
  • Preserve time stamps on exported files
  • Better LVM2 support (Testers wanted)

New Features in version 1.07:

  • Large File Support
  • LVM2

Native IO is now the default for NT based operating systems.  The version now has experimental support for LVM2 which is used by default by RHEL4 and FC3.  Only linear stripes are supported at the moment.  This version can also detect ReiserFS and will display a warning that This Program Can NOT Read ReiserFS.

I have also altered my version numbering system.

Currently, I don't have much time  for development, but when I get a chance, I plan to implement more functionality, especially language support.  I know there are a lot of non-english speaking people who I could make life easier for.

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Reading ex2fs filesystems under Windows

Have you ever downloaded a whole lot of files under Linux, but when you boot back into Windows you realise that you forgot to copy them onto your NT Drive? Well I did, so I wrote an explorer like program that will allow you to save files from any ext2 or ext3 partition.

Supported Operating Systems

Although Explore2fs was originally written for Windows NT 4.0, it now works on the following Win32 operating systems:

  • Windows 95
  • Windows 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows NT 4.0
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003

More Information on Windows 95/98/ME

More Information on Windows NT/2000/XP

Features of the latest version

I have added many features, some of which include:

  • ext2 and ext3 support
  • Drag and drop
  • Support for all block sizes
  • Support for floppy disks 1.44meg and 120meg
  • Supports Zip and Jaz
  • Supports Windows 98 extended partition scheme
  • Export file(s)
  • Export file as text
  • Export directory
  • View / Execute file
  • View Symbolic links
  • Make directory
  • Large disk support
  • Large file support
  • LVM2
  • ReiserFS Detection

Features that are not planned

  • Enforce security permissions.  Any attempt to do this is flawed.  Under Win9x, any user can run an unrestricted version to gain access.  Under NT you need administrator privileges so it does not make sense to require extra authentication.  Explore2fs was built as a tool, not an application.
  • Reiserfs support.  Reiser has nothing in common with Ext2.  For that reason, Explore2fs has nothing to do with Reiserfs.  I have plans for an Explore2fs Version 2 with all sorts of plugable filesystems but at the moment I am working on other projects. See Other Tools for some reiserfs tools
  • Any other filesystem.  Just as Reiserfs is not supported neither is Minix, Ext1, XFS, HFS, ISO9660, UFS or any other filesystem you can imagine.  The exception to this is EXT3 which is compatible.  Writing to EXT3 is not supported.
  • Write support. It was not reliable enough so it has been removed. It may return in the future (Version 2.0) but that is a long time off.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pleases take the time to read the FAQ

Creating a File System in a file.

For testing write support, I use a file system in a file, rather than risk killing my Linux partitions. These are simple steps to creating a file which contains an ex2fs filesystem. Write support is no longer available.


Please read the FAQ and the platform specific information NT 95!!!

Version 1.08 Experimental Beta!

  • This version has unicode support so a lot of things have changed.  It also has better removable disk support, exporting time stamps, better LVM2 support and a few other features.
  • Binary runtime explore2fs-1.08beta7.exe

Version 1.07 - Stable Version for Windows NT, 2000 & XP

Version 1.00 pre 6 - Stable Version for Windows 95, 98 & ME

Version 1.00 pre 5

Version 1.00 pre 4 

Note on source code
The source code for the autoupdate component is now available.  This component provides no benefit to you if you modify the application source and you can easily remove it to create a full working version of Explore2fs.

More info on the disk access under 95 can be found here.

Although there is still some remaining code for write support, it has been abandoned and most likely does not work.

Mailing List

There is a notification list which I use to announce new versions of Explore2fs.  It is very low traffic and an easy way to keep up to date with the latest version.  To subscribe send an empty message to explore2fs-subscribe@uranus.it.swin.edu.au


See also the Readme and the Changes file



Just unzip the file. If you got the source you should make sure you keep the directory structure. You can leave the DLL in the same directory as the executable. Remember to check out the options under the view menu.

If you want to have user names and groups listed, export your passwd and group files and set them up under in options dialog. See the readme for more details.

Please also note that some changes to the disk are not written to the disk till the program exits. If you have written to a partition, and for some reason the program does not exit cleanly (such as 95 crashing :) ) you will be left with a large mess of a filesystem. Version 1.00 has a sync on a timer to try and prevent this from occurring.

Using Drag and drop

You should be able to work it out. Use the left mouse to drag files. You can use the right mouse button to drag directories, but it can be very slow. If anybody has any better ideas for doing this, please send me an e-mail.

Symbolic Links

Symbolic links up to 60 characters can be viewed from the properties window. Longer symbolic links can be viewed by selecting View or Export. The reason for this is that instead of storing the link text in a data block, it is stored in the inode, where the data blocks are normally referenced. This allow a maximum of 60 chars. If it is longer that 60 chars, it is treated exactly like a normal file.


Any help with disk access under 95, or improvements to the COM code would be greatly appreciated.

Related Software written by Me

ext2ifs is a file system driver for Windows NT/2K/XP 

Related Software written by other people

Winux is a graphical configuration interface for the LOADLIN bootloader. It also has multi-language support including English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.  It runs under Windows and Linux. Written by Herve Utard.  I have not used this software but it looks good.  Could be very useful for fixing booting problems.

How can I donate to the the author?

I certainly don't ask for a donation, but if you feel like sending money the easiest way is probably paypal to jn@it.swin.edu.au. $5.00 AU is probably a good amount, but whatever you are comfortable with will be accepted.

Other Tools

These do not necessarily have anything to do with explore2fs but perform similar tasks


More Information

I am writing a document in which I hope to pass on all my knowledge of the filesystem. The document is still under development, but you can find it here.

Filesystems-HOWTO: http://penguin.cz/~mhi/fs/


Last modified 20060423
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