mkfs — build a Linux filesystem


mkfs [options] [ −t type ] [fs−options] device [size]


mkfs is used to build a Linux filesystem on a device, usually a hard disk partition. The device argument is either the device name (e.g. /dev/hda1, /dev/sdb2), or a regular file that shall contain the filesystem. The size argument is the number of blocks to be used for the filesystem.

The exit code returned by mkfs is 0 on success and 1 on failure.

In actuality, mkfs is simply a front-end for the various filesystem builders (mkfs.fstype) available under Linux. The filesystem-specific builder is searched for in a number of directories, like perhaps /sbin, /sbin/fs, /sbin/fs.d, /etc/fs, /etc (the precise list is defined at compile time but at least contains /sbin and /sbin/fs), and finally in the directories listed in the PATH environment variable. Please see the filesystem-specific builder manual pages for further details.


−t, −−type type

Specify the type of filesystem to be built. If not specified, the default filesystem type (currently ext2) is used.


Filesystem-specific options to be passed to the real filesystem builder. Although not guaranteed, the following options are supported by most filesystem builders.

−V, −−verbose

Produce verbose output, including all filesystem-specific commands that are executed. Specifying this option more than once inhibits execution of any filesystem-specific commands. This is really only useful for testing.

−V, −−version

Display version information and exit. (Option −V will display version information only when it is the only parameter, otherwise it will work as −−verbose.)

−h, −−help

Display help and exit.


All generic options must precede and not be combined with filesystem-specific options. Some filesystem-specific programs do not support the −V (verbose) option, nor return meaningful exit codes. Also, some filesystem-specific programs do not automatically detect the device size and require the size parameter to be specified.


David Engel (

Fred N. van Kempen (

Ron Sommeling (

The manual page was shamelessly adapted from Remy Card's version for the ext2 filesystem.


fs(5), badblocks(8), fsck(8), mkdosfs(8), mke2fs(8), mkfs.bfs(8), mkfs.ext2(8), mkfs.ext3(8), mkfs.ext4(8), mkfs.minix(8), mkfs.msdos(8), mkfs.vfat(8), mkfs.xfs(8), mkfs.xiafs(8)


The mkfs command is part of the util-linux package and is available from