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.
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.