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ext2 is recommended over journalized file systems for using in bootable USB sticks and likely other solid-state drives. ext2 shows less writing activity than ext3, as it does not need to write the journal.

“And some of these EXT2 filesystems are getting really rather big. Even 24 months ago, there were people building 500 gigabyte EXT2 filesystems. They take a long time to fsck. I mean, really. These are filesystems that can take three or four hours just to mkfs. Doing a consistency check on them is a serious down time. So the real objective in EXT3 was this simple thing: availability. When something goes down in EXT3, we don’t want to have to go through a fsck. We want to be able to reboot the machine instantly and have everything nice and consistent.”

EXT3 is a journalling file system, which tends to speed up file operations and recovery. Unfortunately it requires more memory and CPU time, so it is not so good on earlier machines. It is much faster on later machines, and more easily recoverable.

ext2 is fast. Fast in all operations. Doesn’t have journalling support. So, its size tends to be smaller than ext3. That is, size of the kernel when compiled with ext2 fs or ext3 fs.

For normal home use, ext2 is perfectly OK. Unless you have mission critical data and need some crash recovery facilities for your filesystem, you can safely use ext2 as well.

Learn more about ext2, ext3 and ext 4

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