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How do I format in Linux?

The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
My laptop is seriously messed up and i need to format its drive, but because Windows XP is seriously retarded, i can't use the WinXP disk to format the drive, or to erase windows. I have no idea how this brick got to be this way.

Alternative solution finding, found me acquiring a copy of a debian-based Linux that runs completely off CDROM. What i need to know is how i delete/format the drive in Linux.

Also, is there a way to view the drive structure, like the old DIR command in MSDos?


TRIBE Member
1. to format a drive in Linux you could use fdisk.
2. the command 'ls' is used to list the contents of the drive (however your drive would have to be mounted)
3. I'm pretty sure linux won't recognize an NTFS based drive (could be wrong though)


TRIBE Member
linux will recognize and mount an NTFS-formatted partition. i don't think it writes to NTFS, though.

Ubuntu is a Debian-based distro that has a live CD. I don't think there are any "proper" Debian live CDs, however.


TRIBE Member
You can delete and format partitions using your debian CD. There are walkthroughs on how to format partitions and stuff etc that are googleable. However, you will not be able to format the drives as NTFS from linux, and even if there was a utility that could do it, unless it was written by M$ i wouldn't trust it anyway.
What you could do is format to FAT and then use windows to convert it to NTFS (if you are using windows, don't use anything other than NTFS.)

If the drive you are trying to format is your Windows drive then you would be better off just putting the Windows CD into your CD rom drive and rebooting. The windows setup program will format the drives for you with no problems - if you actually still have problems doing that, just delete the whole partition. Deleting the partition has no additional downsides other than you having to press a few extra keys through setup. If that doesn't work then your hard disk is probably fucked. It may need to be replaced.

The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
Unfortunately, i can't use WinXP to reformat because it won't let me. Whoever set this thing up, didn't partition the drive.

i'm going to try fdisking
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The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
okay... i tried
fdisk -l /dev/hda
it said it was unable to open

then i tried
shred -fzv /dev/hda
it said the same thing

this is driving me crazy


TRIBE Member
k, first of all, you need to check to see if the CD you're booting has an NTFS driver built in to the kernel or as a loadable module. It's (still -- and for good reason) *not* a default option that is included in most *nix distro install CDs. The reason you cannot open /dev/hda *may* be a permissions issue. Are you root when performing this operation? Minimally, you ought to be able to list the partitions on /dev/hda, assuming hda (the first device) contains your NTFS partition.