Linux Commands Examples

A great documentation place for Linux commands


create an MS-DOS file system under Linux

see also : dosfsck - dosfslabel - mkfs


mkdosfs|mkfs.msdos|mkfs.vfat [ -a ] [ -A ] [ -b sector-of-backup ] [ -c ] [ -l filename ] [ -C ] [ -f number-of-FATs ] [ -F FAT-size ] [ -h number-of-hidden-sectors ] [ -i volume-id ] [ -I ] [ -m message-file ] [ -n volume-name ] [ -r root-dir-entries ] [ -R number-of-reserved-sectors ] [ -s sectors-per-cluster ] [ -S logical-sector-size ] [ -v ] device [ block-count ]

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sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=./mydisk bs=64M count=1
sudo mkfs.vfat -F 32 ./mydisk
sudo mkfs.vfat -F 32 -f 2 -S 512 -s 1 -R 32 ./mydisk
sudo mkfs.vfat -n OSII /dev/sde1
sudo mount /dev/sde1/ /mnt/usb
sudo touch /mnt/usb/hello
sudo mkdir /mnt/usb/dir_test

mkfs.vfat: re-label existing filesystem?

You are looking for the mlabel program from the mtools package.

From the manual

  The mlabel command adds a volume label to a disk. Its syntax is:
  mlabel [-vcsn] [-N serial] drive:[new_label]


mkdosfs is used to create an MS-DOS file system under Linux on a device (usually a disk partition). device is the special file corresponding to the device (e.g /dev/hdXX). block-count is the number of blocks on the device. If omitted, mkdosfs automatically determines the file system size.



Normally, for any filesystem except very small ones, mkdosfs will align all the data structures to cluster size, to make sure that as long as the partition is properly aligned, so will all the data structures in the filesystem. This option disables alignment; this may provide a handful of additional clusters of storage at the expense of a significant performance degradation on RAIDs, flash media or large-sector hard disks.


Use Atari variation of the MS-DOS file system. This is default if mkdosfs is run on an Atari, then this option turns off Atari format. There are some differences when using Atari format: If not directed otherwise by the user, mkdosfs will always use 2 sectors per cluster, since GEMDOS doesn’t like other values very much. It will also obey the maximum number of sectors GEMDOS can handle. Larger file systems are managed by raising the logical sector size. Under Atari format, an Atari-compatible serial number for the file system is generated, and a 12 bit FAT is used only for file systems that have one of the usual floppy sizes (720k, 1.2M, 1.44M, 2.88M), a 16 bit FAT otherwise. This can be overridden with the -F option. Some PC-specific boot sector fields aren’t written, and a boot message (option -m) is ignored.

-b sector-of-backup

Selects the location of the backup boot sector for FAT32. Default depends on number of reserved sectors, but usually is sector 6. The backup must be within the range of reserved sectors.


Check the device for bad blocks before creating the file system.


Create the file given as device on the command line, and write the to-be-created file system to it. This can be used to create the new file system in a file instead of on a real device, and to avoid using dd in advance to create a file of appropriate size. With this option, the block-count must be given, because otherwise the intended size of the file system wouldn’t be known. The file created is a sparse file, which actually only contains the meta-data areas (boot sector, FATs, and root directory). The data portions won’t be stored on the disk, but the file nevertheless will have the correct size. The resulting file can be copied later to a floppy disk or other device, or mounted through a loop device.

-f number-of-FATs

Specify the number of file allocation tables in the file system. The default is 2. Currently the Linux MS-DOS file system does not support more than 2 FATs.

-F FAT-size

Specifies the type of file allocation tables used (12, 16 or 32 bit). If nothing is specified, mkdosfs will automatically select between 12, 16 and 32 bit, whatever fits better for the file system size.

-h number-of-hidden-sectors

Select the number of hidden sectors in the volume. Apparently some digital cameras get indigestion if you feed them a CF card without such hidden sectors, this option allows you to satisfy them. Assumes ´0´ if no value is given on the command line.

-i volume-id

Sets the volume ID of the newly created file system; volume-id is a 32-bit hexadecimal number (for example, 2e24ec82). The default is a number which depends on the file system creation time.


It is typical for fixed disk devices to be partitioned so, by default, you are not permitted to create a filesystem across the entire device. mkdosfs will complain and tell you that it refuses to work. This is different when using MO disks. One doesn’t always need partitions on MO disks. The file system can go directly to the whole disk. Under other OSes this is known as the ’superfloppy’ format.

This switch will force mkdosfs to work properly.

-l filename

Read the bad blocks list from filename.

-m message-file

Sets the message the user receives on attempts to boot this file system without having properly installed an operating system. The message file must not exceed 418 bytes once line feeds have been converted to carriage return-line feed combinations, and tabs have been expanded. If the filename is a hyphen (-), the text is taken from standard input.

-n volume-name

Sets the volume name (label) of the file system. The volume name can be up to 11 characters long. The default is no label.

-r root-dir-entries

Select the number of entries available in the root directory. The default is 112 or 224 for floppies and 512 for hard disks.

-R number-of-reserved-sectors

Select the number of reserved sectors. With FAT32 format at least 2 reserved sectors are needed, the default is 32. Otherwise the default is 1 (only the boot sector).

-s sectors-per-cluster

Specify the number of disk sectors per cluster. Must be a power of 2, i.e. 1, 2, 4, 8, ... 128.

-S logical-sector-size

Specify the number of bytes per logical sector. Must be a power of 2 and greater than or equal to 512, i.e. 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, or 32768.


Verbose execution.


mkdosfs is based on code from mke2fs (written by Remy Card - <card[:at:]masi.ibp[:dot:]fr>) which is itself based on mkfs (written by Linus Torvalds - <torvalds[:at:][:dot:]fi>).


mkdosfs can not create boot-able file systems. This isn’t as easy as you might think at first glance for various reasons and has been discussed a lot already. mkdosfs simply will not support it ;)

see also

dosfsck , dosfslabel , mkfs


Dave Hudson - <dave[:at:][:dot:]uk>; modified by Peter Anvin <hpa[:at:]yggdrasil[:dot:]com>. Fixes and additions by Roman Hodek <roman[:at:]hodek[:dot:]net> for Debian/GNU Linux.

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