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I'm working on a computer with very little memory (128MB) - for my application I need to format large drives (4TB)

I'm able to format greater than 2TB disks, up to about 2.5TB, but beyond that I'm given the below

mke2fs 1.42-WIP (16-Oct-2011)
/dev/sda1: Memory allocation failed while setting up superblock

I realize I'm really out there in terms of reasonable - are there any tricks? (block sizes, etc)

any idea how I can get very large disks to format?

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Put some more RAM in it. –  Michael Hampton Sep 28 '12 at 0:39
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Add some swap: http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/linux-add-a-swap-file-howto/

dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile1 bs=1024 count=524288
mkswap /swapfile1
swapon /swapfile1

That'll make 512MB of swap and enable it. You'll need to edit your /etc/fstab to make it stay after a reboot, though.

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