It’s been a while since I last had to run Windows on my laptop; back then I used Ext2 Installable File System For Windows to access data on my Linux-formated partitions.

In the meantime a few things have changed: Windows 7 and Ubuntu formating ext3 with a inode size of 256 – none of these are supported by ext3 ifs.

Ext2read supports Windows 7 (as well as ext4 and LVM2) but it’s more like a file browser and does not support assigning drive letters to Linux filesystems and since my /home is formatted with XFS it does not help me anyway.

Instead of going through reformatting the filesystems I wanted to access from Windows, I decided to build a virtual file server instead; that way I can access any filesystem type supported by Linux.

Software used: Windows 7, Virtualbox and Ubuntu (server edition)

This guide will work with other versions of Windows (and other OS’es as well), there are no ties to Virtualbox and the Linux version used can be anyone you like.

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After completing my script to deliver Irssi notifications to the Linux desktop using Perl (IPC::Message::Minivan and Desktop::Notify), I wondered if this framework could be extended to Windows (since I have a Windows desktop at work).

I have previously looked at Growl (on Linux) and think it is cumbersome to get the notifications across the network – but ended up using it anyway since it’s an easy way to display notifications in Windows (and probably in MacOS as well). There is a another Growl script for Irssi but I wanted to make my own that plugs into Minivan because I wanted the pop ups to look the same on all computers (at least the wording).

On Windows

  1. Download Grow for Windows and install it.
  2. Download MyEnTunnel and install it.
  3. If you haven’t already (which I am guessing you have) then download Putty SSH client and install it
  4. Configure MyEnTunnel to match your configuration, create a remote tunnel: <random port number>:localhost:23053 – The random port is important and will be used later

On the server running Irssi

  1. Install the Minivan – See this article
  2. Install Growl::GNTP
    $ sudo apt-get install libcrypt-cbc-perl libdata-uuid-perl
    $ sudo perl -MCPAN -e 'Growl::GNTP'
  3. Install the script

    # The IRC icon is from here:

    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use IPC::Message::Minivan;
    use Encode;
    use Growl::GNTP;
    use Data::Dumper;

    if ($#ARGV != 0) {
        print "Usage: <port number>\n";

    my $port = $ARGV[0];

    my $van = IPC::Message::Minivan->new(host => 'localhost');

    my $growl = Growl::GNTP->new(
            AppName => "Irssi",
            PeerHost => "localhost",
            PeerPort => $port,
            Password => "",
            AppIcon => ""

            { Name => "irssi", },

                    Event => "irssi",
                    Title => "Minivan",
                    Message => "Connection established"

    while (1) {
            if (my $cmd = $van->get(5,[])) {
                    if ($cmd->[0] eq '#irssi') {
                            my $c=$cmd->[1];

                            my $message = $c->{msg};
                            my $summary = $c->{summary};
                                            Event => "irssi",
                                            Title => $summary,
                                            Message => $message,


    Copy the script to ~/bin/

  4. Make the script executable and run it as <port number>

    The port number is the one you chose on the Windows machine for your remote tunnel – You need to run an instance of the script for each Growl-client.