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How to mount Mac OS X hsf+ partition (rw) in Linux

Update: Posted follow up article to mount HFS+ dd images dateFull: Posted follow up article to mount HFS+ dd images**

The first time I tried to mount a Mac OS X partition in Linux, I ran into several issues. Here were the problems I had and the resolution.

HFS+ partition structure

Man computer forensic jobs are on Windows or even Linux computer which use the DOS partition structure. So, the first time you come across a Apple partition, things look a bit different. The following are the partitions, as seen by mmls and parted, on a HFS+ USB drive:

mmls output

wintermute:/mnt# mmls /dev/sdc
MAC Partition Map
Offset Sector: 0
Units are in 512-byte sectors

 Slot    Start        End          Length       Description<br />

00: —– 0000000000 0000000000 0000000001 Unallocated
01: 00 0000000001 0000000063 0000000063 Apple_partition_map
02: Meta 0000000001 0000000004 0000000004 Table
03: 01 0000000064 0000262207 0000262144 Apple_Free
04: 02 0000262208 0160086511 0159824304 Apple_HFS
05: 03 0160086512 0160086527 0000000016 Apple_Free

parted output

wintermute:/mnt# parted /dev/sdc
GNU Parted 1.7.1
Using /dev/sdc
Welcome to GNU Parted! Type ‘help’ to view a list of commands.
(parted) print

Disk /dev/sdc: 82.0GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: mac

Number Start End Size File system Name Flags
1 0.51kB 32.8kB 32.3kB Apple
3 134MB 82.0GB 81.8GB hfs+ Apple_HFS_Untitled_1

HFS+ partition and journaling

When you mount the HFP+ partition, you issue the following:

wintermute:/mnt# mount -t hfsplus /dev/sdc3 /mnt/sdc/

and while everything looks good from mount:

wintermute:/mnt# mount
/dev/sdc3 on /mnt/sdc type hfsplus

the journaled filesystem has actually caused some issues. You notice this is you want to write to the drive or if you look at dmesg:

sdc1: rw=0, want=262211, limit=63
hfs: unable to find HFS+ superblock
hfs: write access to a jounaled filesystem is not supported, use the force option at your own risk, mounting read-only.

Disabling journaling on HFP+ file system

If you need to write data to this drive (helpful as I move files between Linux, Windows and OS X forensic workstations), you can remove the journaling from the file system. This is not recommended for the system partition on a Mac but is fine for a data drive. Of course, understanding the benefits of a journaled file system for data recovery is important. Anyway, to remove the journal I issued from following command on my OS X workstation per Apple’s support article:

neuromancer:/Volumes root# /usr/sbin/diskutil disableJournal /Volumes/mac-backup

Write away

Placing the drive back in Linux and mount with the same command as above resulting in a writable HFS+ partition on my Linux workstation:

wintermute:/mnt# mount
/dev/sdc3 on /mnt/sdc type hfsplus (rw)