I am attempting to reformat a drive. Was originally formatted for Solaris with a ZFS filesystem. I am reformatting for my Linux (debian).

I used fdisk to remove all existing partitions. Both fdisk and cfdisk hang when trying to create the new partitions.

fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sdb: 68.4 GiB, 73407865856 bytes, 143374738 sectors
Disk model: ST973402SSUN72G 
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: DB83FA41-8BEC-C84A-9DF1-8EC1CCDB776F

fdisk /dev/sdb

Welcome to fdisk (util-linux 2.33.1).
Changes will remain in memory only, until you decide to write them.
Be careful before using the write command.

Command (m for help): n
Partition number (1-9, default 1): 

(hit enter, hang)

cfdisk /dev/sdb

                                    Disk: /dev/sdb
                           Size: 68.4 GiB, 73407865856 bytes, 143374738 sectors
                       Label: gpt, identifier: DB83FA41-8BEC-C84A-9DF1-8EC1CCDB776F

    Device                      Start               End           Sectors          Size Type
>>  Free space                   2048         143374704         143372657         68.4G                   

                  May be followed by M for MiB, G for GiB, T for TiB, or S for sectors.

(hit enter on partition size, hang)

fsck /dev/sdb

fsck from util-linux 2.33.1
e2fsck 1.44.5 (15-Dec-2018)
ext2fs_open2: Bad magic number in super-block
fsck.ext2: Superblock invalid, trying backup blocks...
fsck.ext2: Bad magic number in super-block while trying to open /dev/sdb

The superblock could not be read or does not describe a valid ext2/ext3/ext4
filesystem.  If the device is valid and it really contains an ext2/ext3/ext4
filesystem (and not swap or ufs or something else), then the superblock
is corrupt, and you might try running e2fsck with an alternate superblock:
    e2fsck -b 8193 <device>
    e2fsck -b 32768 <device>

Found a gpt partition table in /dev/sdb

Why does it hang? What am I doing wrong?

  • Does the output of dmesg yield any ATA/SCSI or I/O errors? Oct 7 '20 at 14:23
  • Yes, check dmesg for any useful information. And be prepared to accept that this antique drive is probably at the end of its life. Oct 7 '20 at 14:25
  • @MatthewIfe There were no errors in dmesg. Re-creating the (supposedly already existing) empty GPT partition table corrected the problem.
    – Dorothy
    Oct 7 '20 at 14:40

I used fdisk g command to create a new empty GPT partition table. The new partition command worked after that. Not sure why this was needed since the disk was already labeled as a Disklabel type: gpt. But it worked after that.

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