How to Mount and Use an exFAT Drive on Ubuntu Linux [Quick Tip]

Brief: This quick tutorial shows you how to enable exFAT file system support on Ubuntu and other Ubuntu-based Linux distributions. This way you won’t see any error while mounting exFAT drives on your system.

Problem mounting exFAT disk on Ubuntu

The other day, I tried to use an external USB key formatted in exFAT format that contained a file of around 10 GB in size. As soon as I plugged the USB key, my Ubuntu 16.04 throw an error complaining that it cannot mount unknown filesystem type ‘exfat’.

Fix exfat drive mount error on Ubuntu Linux

The exact error message was this:

Error mounting /dev/sdb1 at /media/abhishek/SHADI DATA: Command-line `mount -t “exfat” -o “uhelper=udisks2,nodev,nosuid,uid=1001,gid=1001,iocharset=utf8,namecase=0,errors=remount-ro,umask=0077” “/dev/sdb1” “/media/abhishek/SHADI DATA”‘ exited with non-zero exit status 32: mount: unknown filesystem type ‘exfat’

The reason behind this exFAT mount error

Microsoft’s favorite FAT file system is limited to files up to 4GB in size. You cannot transfer a file bigger than 4 GB in size to a FAT drive. To overcome the limitations of the FAT filesystem, Microsoft introduced exFAT file system in 2006.

As most of the Microsoft related stuff are proprietary, exFAT file format was no exception to that. Microsoft has been open sourcing few of its technologies and exFAT is one of them. The newly open sources exFAT file system will be supported in the upcoming Linux Kernel 5.4 release. You may check your Linux kernel version to make things sure.

But for Linux Kernel 5.3 and lower versions, it remains a proprietary software. Ubuntu and many other Linux distributions don’t provide the proprietary exFAT file support by default. This is the reason why you see the mount error with exFAT files.

Recommended Read:

How to mount exFAT drive on Ubuntu Linux

Fix exFAT mount error on Ubuntu Linux

The solution to this problem is simple. All you need to do is to enable exFAT support.

I am going to show the commands for Ubuntu but this should be applicable to other Ubuntu-based distributions such as Linux Mint, elementary OS etc.

Open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T shortcut in Ubuntu) and use the following command to enable the universe repository because this repo contains your packages. Chances are that you already have the Universe repository enabled but no harm in double checking.

sudo add-apt-repository universe

Update the repository information:

sudo apt update

Now, you can install the required packages.

sudo apt install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

Once you have installed these packages, go to file manager and click on the USB disk again to mount it. There is no need to replug the USB. It should be mounted straightaway.

If you prefer videos, I made a quick video showing the steps in action.

Did it help you?

I hope this quick tip helped you to fix the exFAT mount error for your Linux distribution. If you have any further questions, suggestions or a simple thanks, please use the comment box below.

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  • Worked for me as well (however, the drive is only recognised when connected to the port close to the motherboard, but not to the other two, although they work well with other USB/HDD devices). Thanks anyway!

  • Hey! I followed the instructions and got this error message.

    E: Package ‘exfat-utils’ has no installation candidate

    What does this mean? Thanks!