Disks and partitions need to be formatted before being mounted and used. Linux by default supports several filesystems, which would come with their pros and cons. Some of the popular supported filesystem types are ext4, Btrfs, and exFAT.

Many graphical tools are available to format disks and partitions in Linux. The one installed by default in most Linux distributions is mkfs, a command-line tool and probably the backend to most of the graphical tools.

Steps to format disk and partition in Linux:

  1. Launch terminal.
  2. List available disks and partitions in your system.
    $ lsblk
    loop0    7:0    0  55.4M  1 loop /snap/core18/19
    loop1    7:1    0  55.4M  1 loop /snap/core18/19
    loop2    7:2    0    51M  1 loop /snap/snap-stor
    loop3    7:3    0   219M  1 loop /snap/gnome-3-3
    loop4    7:4    0 217.9M  1 loop /snap/gnome-3-3
    loop5    7:5    0  31.1M  1 loop /snap/snapd/104
    loop6    7:6    0  62.1M  1 loop /snap/gtk-commo
    loop7    7:7    0  64.8M  1 loop /snap/gtk-commo
    loop8    7:8    0    51M  1 loop /snap/snap-stor
    loop9    7:9    0  31.1M  1 loop /snap/snapd/107
    sda      8:0    0    20G  0 disk 
    ├─sda1   8:1    0     1M  0 part 
    ├─sda2   8:2    0   513M  0 part /boot/efi
    └─sda3   8:3    0  19.5G  0 part /
    sdb      8:16   0    20G  0 disk 
    └─sdb1   8:17   0    20G  0 part 
    sr0     11:0    1  1024M  0 rom
  3. Make sure disk or partition that you want to format is not already mounted or is in use.
    $ sudo umount /dev/sdb1
    [sudo] password for user: 
    umount: /dev/sdb1: not mounted.
  4. Check supported filesystem for mkfs command.
    $ sudo mkfs.
    mkfs.bfs     mkfs.ext4    mkfs.ntfs
    mkfs.cramfs  mkfs.fat     mkfs.vfat
    mkfs.ext2    mkfs.minix   
    mkfs.ext3    mkfs.msdos

    Type mkfs. and press <TAB> twice for the terminal to show possible autompleted commands.

    Install necessary package if your desired filestem is not listed or supported.

  5. Format disk or partition using your preferred filesystem type.
    $ sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdb1
    mke2fs 1.45.6 (20-Mar-2020)
    Creating filesystem with 5242624 4k blocks and 1310720 inodes
    Filesystem UUID: ccab0f8d-3b5b-4189-9da3-23c49159c318
    Superblock backups stored on blocks: 
    	32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912, 819200, 884736, 1605632, 2654208, 
    Allocating group tables: done                            
    Writing inode tables: done                            
    Creating journal (32768 blocks): done
    Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done
  6. Check current filesystem type to ensure disk or partition is successfully formatted.
    $ blkid /dev/sdb1 
    /dev/sdb1: UUID="ccab0f8d-3b5b-4189-9da3-23c49159c318" BLOCK_SIZE="4096" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="c088a647-01"
  7. Mount disk or partition as necessary.
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