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Guide Beginner Formatting drives with the Disks utility


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Founding Member
Nov 23, 2018
Most Linux distributions utilizing the GNOME 3 desktop environment will have “Disks” installed by default. It’s a powerful tool for managing partitions and formatting drives through the ease of a GUI (Graphical User Interface). You can find it by pressing super + a, which will reveal all of the installed programs. Click on the Disks icon to open it.

If your drive’s function is exclusive to Linux, it’s best to format in the same filesystem as the host operating system. Currently, ext4 is the most common Linux format, but you can double check by running df -T in Terminal and finding the entry mounted on /. The Type column will let you know the format used.

Attach the drive that you want to format, and it will appear in the list of drives on the left. Ensure that the highlighted drive is the one you want to format; once you start the process, there is no going back!

This window shows an example of a new USB drive which is attached and ready to be formatted. For my purposes, I want to format it to ext4.


The next step requires you to delete the existing partition(s). Select any existing partitions, and click the minus icon at the bottom-left in the action bar.


Disks will ask you to confirm your choice. Click Delete, which will then prompt you for your password.


Below is what you should end up with: all free space. The drive is now ready to be formatted. Click on the + sign to begin.


You will see the window below. Nothing here needs configuration, so click Next to continue.


You will advance to this screen where you can choose further options. Select the filesystem format, which will probably be ext4. If you want to use the hard drive on Mac OS X or Windows systems as well, choose FAT32. It's not completely necessary, but something I like to do is set to Erase by moving the slide. Type in the name you want and click Next


Sit back; it might take some time depending on the size of the drive. When it finishes, it will look something like the picture below.


OK, all done! The drive is now ready to use on your Linux system. If you don’t need to work with it yet, eject it by clicking the appropriate button on the title bar.
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