[sf-lug] how to use fdisk to repartition a 1TB USB hard drive?

Tom Haddon tom at greenleaftech.net
Sat Jun 13 00:19:01 PDT 2009

On Fri, 2009-06-12 at 21:28 -0700, jim wrote:
> i got a new 1TB USB stand-alone hard drive with a vfat 
> file system and called itself "My Book". 
>    i figured i'd use fdisk to wipe the existing partition 
> table and make a new 100GB partition, leave the rest raw 
> and make new parts as i see the needs. 
>    i used fdisk, which showed four screwy partitions and 
> then told me the device didn't seem to have a valid 
> partition table, maybe i screwed up. 
>    i ignored fdisk's sarcasm and deleted the four screwy 
> partitions and then made a new 100GB partition. fdisk 
> seemed happy. 
>    partprobe didn't like things. 
>    i rebooted. and then... 
>            It still calls itself "My Book". I'd like to fix that 
>         along with other things. 

Once you create ext3 partitions on there, use e2label to assign a name
to the device and this will be respected in the name it's assigned when

>         ubuntu 8.04, 
>         # fdisk -l    Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks
>         Id
>         System
>         /dev/sdb1               1      121601   976760001    c  W95
>         FAT32 (LBA)
>         <JS: the above looks the way it came before i used 
>         fdisk to wipe out the weird non-partitions that fdisk 
>         complained about (along with a somewhat snide remark 
>         that there was no partition table, i must have made 
>         a mistake), and then create a single 100MB partition.> 
>         # fdisk /dev/sdb1 
>         Command (m for help): p
>         Disk /dev/sdb1: 1000.2 GB, 1000202241024 bytes
>         255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121600 cylinders
>         Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
>         Disk identifier: 0x73696420
>              Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
>         /dev/sdb1p1               1         123      987966   83  Linux
>         <JS: the above is what fdisk reports now, after i'd 
>         used fdisk to make a 100 MB partition and rebooted 
>         the whole system.> 
>         # mount | grep sdb 
>         /dev/sdb1 on /media/My Book type vfat
>         (rw,nosuid,nodev,uhelper=hal,shortname=mixed,uid=1000,utf8,umask=077,flush) 
>         <JS: i would have tho't that blasting the old 
>         partition table and creating a new one would have 
>         blasted the stupid space-in-the-middle name, but 
>         no: when the system reboots, it sees the drive as 
>         it was originally, a vfat 1TB USB drive named 
>         "My Book".> 
>         # cd /media/My*
>         # df -h .
>         Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
>         /dev/sdb1             932G  2.0G  930G   1% /media/My Book
>         <JS: and df sees the same old 1TB thing rather than 
>         a nice new 100GB thing.> 
>         <JS: so far, the internet has not revealed how to 
>         repartition this thing: 
>         Western Digital My Book 1 TB USB stand alone hard drive, 
>         WDH1U1009QN 
>         WD10000H1U-00 
>         >   

Rick's comments may be a better way to go, but I believe what you need
to do in fdisk is run fdisk on the drive itself (/dev/sdb) rather than
partitions within it (/dev/sdb1). This will allow you to delete all
existing paritions, create new ones (and specify the right filesystem
type - most likely ext3).

Good luck!

Cheers, Tom

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