Mount exFAT Storage Devices on Ubuntu

If you’ve come from the Windows operating system, you might have a few storage devices using the exFAT filesystem. This filesystem can generally be used anywhere, much like FAT32. However, FAT32 can only store single files of up to 4GB in size, whereas exFAT can store files of much larger size. A filesystem that can be used as a replacement is Ext4. However, Ext4 is most widely used on Linux, and is not supported by Windows. This leaves exFAT the most viable option considering its cross-platform support. However, Linux operating systems do not by default support exFAT, much like Windows does not support Ext4. Unlike some might think, it is very easy (and free) to start using exFAT on Ubuntu Linux.

Note: This guide is specifically for the Ubuntu operating system; you may have to replace some commands with those specific to your operating system.

The guide is divided into several sections for simplicity. Choose depending on your version of Ubuntu, as some commands depend on version. Before continuing, open up the terminal. The terminal is where almost everything will take place.

Jump to Ubuntu 15.04 instructions.

Ubuntu 16.04 or Newer

In case the package list is out of date, run the update command before proceeding.

sudo apt update

This will update the package list to make sure the program can be found. Now we can go ahead and install the two required programs.

sudo apt install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

Both programs are listed at the same time so they will both be downloaded and installed with one command. Insert your exFAT formatted USB drive, and you’re good to go!

If the terminal does not appear to have successfully installed the exFAT programs, see troubleshooting. The most common cause if this error is that the package could not be found.

Ubuntu 15.10 or Previous Releases

The installation method for Ubuntu 15.10 or previous versions is almost identical to that used for Ubuntu 16.04 and above. However, the apt command is slightly different. In case the package list is out of date, run the update command before proceeding.

sudo apt-get update

This will update the package list to make sure the program can be found. Now we can go ahead and install the two required programs.

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

Both programs are listed at the same time so they will both be downloaded and installed with one command. Insert your exFAT formatted USB drive, and you’re good to go!

If the terminal does not appear to have successfully installed the exFAT programs, see troubleshooting. This most likely means that you do not have the correct repository installed, and can easily be configured.

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting computer problems can be quite frustrating, however, in the case of exFAT is generally quite simple. Keep in mind that most operations will take place in the terminal, so have it open.

Ubuntu 16.04 or Newer

The exFAT drivers are included in the default repository used by Ubuntu 16.04. If they cannot be found, this means that your computer is missing this default repository. It is also possible that the repository list has been corrupted, so we will completely remove and recreate it.

You can fix this partly through a GUI interface, however, the command line is the only option for operating systems like Ubuntu Server.

Delete the sources.list file, and create a new one. Then paste the data below to the file.

sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo touch /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

The final command will open the nano command line text editor, where we can paste the new list. You do not necessarily have to create the file with the touch command before using nano, as nano can create the file itself. We are only doing it separately here so you can understand what is happening.

Paste the following code into the nano interface using Ctrl+Shift+V.

# deb cdrom:[Ubuntu 16.04 LTS _Xenial Xerus_ - Release amd64 (20160420.1)]/ xenial main restricted

# See http://help.ubuntu.com/community/UpgradeNotes for how to upgrade to
# newer versions of the distribution.
deb http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial main restricted
# deb-src http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial main restricted

## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
## distribution.
deb http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates main restricted
# deb-src http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates main restricted

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to
## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in
## universe WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu security
## team.
deb http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial universe
# deb-src http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial universe
deb http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates universe
# deb-src http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates universe

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu 
## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to 
## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in 
## multiverse WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu
## security team.
deb http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial multiverse
# deb-src http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial multiverse
deb http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates multiverse
# deb-src http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-updates multiverse

## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-backports main restricted universe multiverse
# deb-src http://ca.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ xenial-backports main restricted universe multiverse

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical's
## 'partner' repository.
## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by Canonical and the
## respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu users.
# deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu xenial partner
# deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu xenial partner

The above code covers all of the default sources found in Ubuntu 16.04. You should now be able to update the list, and go back to install exFAT.

sudo apt update

Ubuntu 15.10 or Previous Releases

Your computer is probably missing the repository in which the exFAT programs are found. Add the repository in which the software is found and update the list.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:relan/exfat
sudo apt-get update

With the repository added, head back over the main instructions, and you should be good to go.

If the troubleshooting section didn’t cover an issue or you have a general question; leave a comment below and I’ll try to help.

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