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       scsiformat - low level format an scsi disk device


       scsiformat [-options...] device


       Low  level  formats  the  SCSI  device  identified  by the scsi disk or
       generic scsi device node device.  You must  be  root  to  perform  this
       operation.    scsiformat  will  ask  a  simple  question  to  get  your
       confirmation and check if  partitions  on  device  are  still  mounted.
       Possible swap spaces on device are swapoff(8)’ed prior to formatting.

       During  formatting  a file like /tmp/scsiformat.xx:xx:xx:xx:xxxxxxxx is
       used to hold some status information.


       scsiformat supports the following option switches:

   a) Controlling a/synchronous operation
       -b n   block during the format operation. This  makes  any  display  of
              real   progress  indicators  impossible.  However,  cheesy  SCSI
              devices   will need it. Scsiformat assumes  that  the  operation
              will  need about n seconds and provides some progress indication
              according to that.  -b0 does not print any  process  indication,
              just sits and blocks until formatting completes.

              Read the BUGS section below!

       -T     just  check  for a running format command and output statistics.
              A file /tmp/scsiformat.*  is used to hold the starting  time  of
              the  format  operation.  If  formatting  completed, this file is
              removed by the formatting scsiformat  call  (which  forks  of  a
              child  just  for this purpose).  The exit state of scsiformat is
              true as long as the format operation is  still  in  progress.  A
              left  over  /tmp/scsiformat.*  file will make scsiformat think a
              program still runs. It will not accept and  remove  files  older
              than 48h nevertheless.

       -t n   check  progress  every  n  seconds  (default  is  5).  -t0 makes
              scsiformat return without displaying progress.

   b) Interleave factor
       -i n   sets the sector interleave factor to be used. Usually you should
              stick  with  the  default  -i0  which  selects a vendor specific

   c) Initialisation pattern
       By default the target will initialise  the  formatted  sectors  with  a
       vendor specific test pattern.

       -I sequence of bytes in hex
              the  bytes given in hex characters are repeated and used to init
              all blocks on the device.

       -L     The first four bytes of each logical block are set to the number
              of the logical block.

       -P     The  first  four  bytes  of  each  physical block are set to the
              number of logical block, it will occur in.

   c) Defect management
       -e     Erase the grown defect list prior to formatting. You  can  issue
              new  defects  for  the  grown defect list nevertheless and media
              certification may add defects too.

       -p     Ignore the vendor’s primary defect list. This is not recommended
              as  the  vendor  probably  had a reason to specify these primary

       -c     Do not perform a media surface certification. This may speed  up
              formatting but is also not recommended.

       -s     Stop  when unable to access primary or grown defects due to some
              internal error in the target device. When not given,  formatting
              continues  but returns a recovered error upon completion. (Which
              is probably not well supported by scsiformat).

       -S     Erase MODE SELECT settings stored in NVRAM. These are those  you
              can set with scsiinfo(8) or scsi-config(8).

       -d int, ...
              A  comma  separated  list  of  logical blocks to mark as defect.
              Using this defect  format  is  discouraged  as  there  no  clear
              concept  of  what  a  logical  block  is here because the format
              command may move around logical blocks and change the number  of
              available blocks.

              The  number  can be preceded by 0 or 0x for octal or hexadecimal

       -D int:int:int, ...
              A  comma  separated  list  of  expressions  of  the  form  C:H:S
              specifying a defect at physical location Cylinder:Head:Sector. A
              Sector S of -1 marks the whole track as bad.

              The number can be preceded by 0 or 0x for octal  or  hexadecimal

       -B int:int:int, ...
              A  comma  separated  list  of  expressions  of  the  from  C:H:B
              specifying defects at Cylinder:Head:Bytes from Index.  Again,  a
              Bytes from Index value B of -1 marks the whole track as bad.

              The  number  can be preceded by 0 or 0x for octal or hexadecimal

       You can specify more than one of the -d, -D, -B options  but  you  must
       stick to one defect format!

   d) Simple partitioning
       For your convenience, scsiformat allow to preset the partition table in
       a simple way which often suffices for removable medias.   This  is  not
       intended as a replacement for fdisk(8) though.

       -f arg perform  simple  partitioning.  -fdos sets up begin and start of
              the partition on cylinder boundaries.  -ftight does use as  much
              of the disk as possible (but may confuse OS’s other than Linux).

              If you do not specify -f at all, scsiformat will not  initialise
              the  partition table. As it has to tell the kernel that the disk
              was reformatted and the kernel will try to to read the partition
              table, you are like to get some kernel warnings then.

       -G headsxsectors
              set  the  disk geometry (Heads x Sectors) as DOS will see it for
              use in the partition table. If you don’t specify it,  scsiformat
              will  ask  the  kernel  what  it  thinks  DOS  will get from the
              adapters BIOS. This call might fail or return bogus data though.
              A  wrong  setting will not affect linux, but other OS’s and esp.
              DOS and the BIOS (for booting).

       -y type
              set the type for the partition to set.  type is a two digit  hex
              number. See fdisk(8),command t for a list. Defaults to 83 (Linux

       -M size
              Create a primary partition number  1  of  maximal  size  sizeMB.
              When  size is 0, no partition is created, and thus the partition
              table is simply initialised to be valid (but empty). If the size
              exceeds  the  disk capacity, a partition as large as possible is
              made. Defaults to 99999.

   e) Miscellaneous
       -H     print some command line help to stdout.

       -v     print version information.

       -F arg forced operation, do not ask  prior  to  format.   arg  must  be
              ’Ene Mene Meck, und Du bist weg!’    with   proper   spaces  and
              capitalisation. (this is a German child  rhyme  kissing  someone

       -V     print some debugging information.

       -X     all  output  is  printed  in numerics, useful for GUI interfaces
              like tk_scsiformat(8).  Also makes all operations non  blocking.
              (By  forking  of a child process for those scsi operations which
              would block).

       -o     The settings of the flags -c, -p, -s, -S, -I, -L, -P are obeyed.
              If you specify one of these, -o is silently added. Without -o or
              one of these flags some factory default is used.  Specifying  -o
              explicitly  will allow you to not use any of these options which
              might not be the default chosen by the target device  otherwise.


       Apart from the codes returned by the -T flag, scsiformat will generally
       return 1 for system errors, 2 for user errors,  and  0  for  successful


       Old  status files in /tmp will confuse the -T option. However, they are
       removed after 48 hours.

       I was unable to get hold of a disk  supporting  querying  the  progress
       status  (and  which  I  could  stand  to lose all data on). Therefore I
       commented out the support  for  this  from  the  source  code  using  a
       BLOCKING_ONLY#define.  You are welcome to try and make this work.

       Restrictions of the SCSI_IOCTL_SEND_COMMAND ioctl(2) call for the sd(4)
       device make it impossible to issue a FORMAT_UNIT command with more than
       4096  bytes  of  arguments.  This  could be avoided by using the proper
       generic scsi device /dev/sg* instead, at  least  where  the  kernel  is
       compiled  to support it. Most of the time this is not needed though and
       thus I’m myself to lazy to do it.




       tk_scsiformat(8), scsiinfo(8), scsi-config(8), fdisk(8), sd(4).


       Michael Weller <>