I want to know how to format a 32 TB drive. What program should I use and what filesystem? The largest drives I ever had to map before are 2-3 TB and I always used fdisk for formatting. But fdisk is not working for drives larger than 2.1 TB.

I would prefer that the whole volume is mounted as a single logical drive. We need to store large files in it, some may well pass 4TB.

I have an HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 server in my administration and configured two 1TB disks as a 1TB system drive and ten 4TB disks into a 30 TB drive using RAID 50. I installed Ubuntu Server 12.04.

UPDATE: I used parted to relabel the partition table to GUID Partition Table (GPT) from msdos which is default for Ubuntu Server 12.04

parted /dev/sdb mklabel gpt

I then used parted to create an ext4 partition, which I later relabeled to xfs with: mkfs.xfs /dev/sdb1. The rest went smoothly.


You need to use the GUID Partition Table (GPT) on such a large disk. In Linux, there are two families of programs that support GPT:

  • The libparted library, which is used by parted, GParted, and several others, supports both GPT and the older MBR.
  • The GPT fdisk family (gdisk, sgdisk, and cgdisk) is a GPT-only tool. It's installed as part of the gdisk package in Ubuntu.

In addition, fdisk has recently gained GPT support, but even Ubuntu 14.04 uses a version that's old enough that it lacks this support.

As to filesystems, XFS, JFS, and ext4fs can all handle such a big volume. So can Btrfs, but it's so new that I don't think I'd recommend it. Chances are this is a pretty important project, so you should research the differences between these filesystems for your specific needs.


I'm sure there are others, but the JFS and XFS filesystems will both support the volume and file sizes you need. Ubuntu has a Wiki Page on XFS that covers some pros and cons of XFS, one con being that GRUB doesn't support booting off an XFS volume (JFS is supported). However, I don't imagine you're trying to boot off this RAID.

You can format large systems like that using parted and a gpt disk label (the msdos label supports up to 2 TB, like fdisk). To install parted and create a single partition on your RAID (assuming it appears as /dev/sdb), run:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install parted
parted /dev/sdb
  mklabel gpt

Beyond that, follow the prompts and you should be good to go.

To format the volume as XFS, you would run sudo mkfs.xfs /dev/sdb1. Formatting JFS is similar: sudo mkfs.jfs /dev/sdb1. To use JFS, you'll need to make sure jfsutils is installed.

  • thanks, it helped me solve it. i knew about parted but not about changing the partition table to GPT. – grokkaine Apr 25 '14 at 14:48

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