Help required with external drive formatting/partitioning


I have a 250GB external hard drive which used to be FAT32 formatted, which i use to backup all the Music and Pictures i have on my drive. This is so that i have a copy of it incase i reinstall or change installations so that i can easily copy files across, and for safety.

I think formatting it to EXT3 and giving it a mount pount, like /store would be beneficial as i only use it for Linux.

My questions are:

  1. Is formatting it to EXT3 beneficial?
  2. If it gets a mount point, like /store and the entry is written to fstab, will it need to be plugged in every time i turn the PC on, or will it just not mount that partition?
  3. will i have a problem with permissions as /store would appear under /root.
  4. Could i do automated backups to a drive like this easier than if it were FAT32?
  5. Is there a better solution to this?

I appreicate i am asking alot, i just dont want to mess this up as i rely on it for all my files.

Kind Regards

Do not give it a mount pount via fstab.

Use disk labels and Hal/udev will do it for you.

I usually do formatting with a Live CD like Parted Magic: Downloads

Thanks for the quick replies. I think last night when i was formatting it i gave it a mount point of /store. I’ll reformat tonight and it will hopefully remove it from fstab.

/etc/fstab is only changed if you were doing the formatting from the running SUSE system in Yast - Partitioner?!
I take it that’s what you did?
Actually, there shouldn’t be a problem with what you did. Only you might not have the right permissions, but that can be changed.

Yeah thats exactly right. I think you helped me last week with my partitioning (many many thanks) and i ended up installing a /boot partition, and the rest of the disk as LVM (so /root, swap, /home, /files) as whenever i made /root and swap physical partitions and added a LVM, on reboot after a kernel upgrade it couldnt read /home!

I used Yast and formatted the external drive, and assigned /store as a mount point, thinking this would allow me to use it like a physical drive to backup my data to.

On exiting, it asked me if i wanted to write the changes to fstab, clicked yes and away i went.

So you think this would be ok?

Many thanks

Don’t forget to use tune2fs to decrease the size of reserved space though, or you could easily be wasting 25gigs of space!

I always use reiserfs instead, it seems to run a lot smoother, and doesn’t force entire disk checks after 30 mounts. Something that will get VERY boring very quickly on removable devices.

Plus if you accidentally unplug the drive without unmounting it, it will be automatically checked the next time you plug it in, but it only takes a few seconds compared to ext3!

I’ve been using reiserfs for ALL my partitions since about 2004 and never had a single problem.

Apologies for my ignorance, what does the tune2fs application do? And how would i apply it to my situation. I’ll go away and google it, but it would really help me to have it explained.

Kind regards


man tune2fs

This is where we differ in opinion. When the disk is always connected, there is no reason why a so called external disk would be handled different from a so called inetrnal disk.

With fstab you can mount it where you want/need it (which is one of those big winners compaired to MS). In this case I would prefer a mount point like /home/<user>/music-pictures/.

As opposed to HAL which will only mount indside /media/ (and only for one of the users that is accidently loged in) which imho is OK for much changing plug in/remove devices and not for something you want be part of your system.

But as said it is my personal opinion and I have allready found it is often not understood by those infected by years of MS usage rotfl!

In my case, this drive wont be plugged in very often. Maybe once a week for backing up my data. So would the fstab entry not be that wise?

Correct, if it is always connected.

If not, fstab will bring you no benefit, because you can not set “auto” in fstab and will have to mount it by hand, or you will run into trouble the disk is not connected at boot time.

No problem.

a) Disk has a disklabel <SOME_FANCY_NAME>

b) Hal/udev will always mount it to /media/<SOME_FANCY_NAME>


ln -s /media/<SOME_FANCY_NAME> /home/<user>/music-pictures

If the disk is not connected, the link is “dead” but does no harm, if it is connected, it will be accessible via /media or your own, unique “mountpoint”.

Maybe, but the above solution is very “unix-like”.

“everything is a file” …

Thanks for the input. How do you assign a disk label?

openSUSE Forums - View Single Post - Help required with external drive formatting/partitioning

Apologies, i see how you were directing me before. Thanks

And more in: SDB:Basics of partitions, filesystems, mount points - openSUSE

An yes, when it is only connected occasionaly, follow Akoellhs advice. Specialy the symbolioc link is usefull because you then “have it where you want/need it”.


Just noticed, the manual page of tune2fs uses the slightly broader expression “volume label” instead of disk label.

Just in case you did not find the respective part.

Nice guys these IT geeks. They say **Volume **label, they mean **Disk **label for what is in fact a **Partition **label rotfl!
And not even that because it belongs to the File System.

Thanks to all contributors. I’m going to give it a go tonight and get the drive how i need it.


Wrong I’m afraid, partitions are not necessarily needed and it does not even need a disk to label a file system (hint: container + losetup + FS).

So “volume label” is the most “correct” term catching these cases, too.


axel@Fatboy:/tmp> dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/who_needs_a_disk_anyway bs=1M count=100
100+0 Datensätze ein
100+0 Datensätze aus
104857600 Bytes (105 MB) kopiert, 0,140374 s, 747 MB/s

axel@Fatboy:/tmp> ls who_needs_a_disk_anyway -l
-rw-r--r-- 1 axel users 104857600  2. Nov 15:39 who_needs_a_disk_anyway
axel@Fatboy:/tmp> losetup /dev/loop0 who_needs_a_disk_anyway 
axel@Fatboy:/tmp> losetup -a
/dev/loop0: [0011]:157276 (/tmp/who_needs_a_disk_anyway)
axel@Fatboy:/tmp> mkfs.ext3 /dev/loop0 
mke2fs 1.41.1 (01-Sep-2008)
OS-Typ: Linux
Blockgröße=1024 (log=0)
Fragmentgröße=1024 (log=0)
25688 Inodes, 102400 Blöcke
5120 Blöcke (5.00%) reserviert für den Superuser
Erster Datenblock=1
Maximale Dateisystem-Blöcke=67371008
13 Blockgruppen
8192 Blöcke pro Gruppe, 8192 Fragmente pro Gruppe
1976 Inodes pro Gruppe
Superblock-Sicherungskopien gespeichert in den Blöcken: 
        8193, 24577, 40961, 57345, 73729

Schreibe Inode-Tabellen: erledigt                        
Erstelle Journal (4096 Blöcke): erledigt
Schreibe Superblöcke und Dateisystem-Accountinginformationen: erledigt

Das Dateisystem wird automatisch nach jeweils 38 Einhäng-Vorgängen bzw.
alle 180 Tage überprüft, je nachdem, was zuerst eintritt. Veränderbar mit
tune2fs -c oder -t .

axel@Fatboy:/tmp> tune2fs -L NoDiskButLabeled /dev/loop0
tune2fs 1.41.1 (01-Sep-2008)
axel@Fatboy:/tmp> tune2fs -l /dev/loop0 |grep -i label
Filesystem volume name:   NoDiskButLabeled

axel@Fatboy:/tmp> su - -c "fdisk -l /dev/loop0"

Disk /dev/loop0: 104 MB, 104857600 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 12 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

Disk /dev/loop0 doesn't contain a valid partition table