FAT32 Partitioning

Create a (FAT32) partition 

Format at harddrive with a FAT 32 partition

In this article it is shown how to create and format a partition on a harddrive.

As example we use an external USB harddrive - a typical scenario when you want to reformat the harddrive
to FAT32. The formatting with FAT32 is often necessary for non Microsoft Windows computers to recognize the harddrive (this includes the Playstation PS3 or other multimedia devices).

We use the free Linux based Boot CD Knoppix 5.3 for this task. This is a DVD containing a Linux system which boots from DVD without interfering with any installed system on the harddrive. It also brings a lot of tools for the administration of the computer.

For the partition handling we use the gparted tool.

Possible partitions which can be created with the tool include also:
The procedure to create any of these partitions is identical to the what is described in the following.

 HDD Starting Knoppix 5.3

To start Knoppix 5.3 simply insert the Knoppix DVD into the CDROM drive and restart the computer. At the startup screen you can optionally enter some options, which affect the graphics resolution or additional devices loaded at startup (key F2 and F3). But it is also alright to just start it up, thats what we will do here.

Once Knoppix is started you will see the
desktop as shown in the image to the right.

As operation on the harddrive in question should only be performed for unmounted drives. To assure that the drive is not mounted click on the icon representing your drive (shown with a red circle in the desktop picture)  and choose the unmount option as shown below. Furthermore, it is important to allow Linux write access to the harddrive. This write access can alos be granted in this menu, be selecting the Read/Write mode of the drive. Set this to writable and confirm it.

 HDD Starting gparted

In the lower left part of the desktop is the K Menu (shown with a yellow circle in the desktop picture). Click on it and the start menu will appear (pictured to the right). From the start menu choose the command execution menu item (image below and marked blue in the right picture) and enter the text sudo gparted to start the partitioning tool.


Once this command is executed the gparted tool will
start as shown to the right.

From Wikipedia:

GParted is the GNOME Partition Editor application. It is used for creating, destroying, resizing, moving, checking and copying partitions, and the file systems on them. This is useful for creating space for new operating systems, reorganizing disk usage, copying data residing on hard disks and mirroring one partition with another (disk imaging).


 HDD  Partitioning and Formatting

In the tool you have to choose the correct partition (harddrive) to format. Often this is /dev/sda for external USB drives. However, this can change as it depends what and how many devices you have connected. Make particular sure to select the right drive here to not accidentally format your main harddrive. Look at the size of the drive and check whether this is the equal to the size of the external drive you want to format. Partition
The harddrive is now listed in the mainwindow. Click on the drive with
the right mouse button and choose the file system type you want the
harddrive to be formatted with. Typically this will beFAT32 for your external
USB drive.

Note that so far no operation is actually performed on your harddrive. If
you are unsure just stop the process and quit all programs.

To really start the fromatting select the Edit menu and choose to apply all operations (bottem menu item). Only now the actual operations are executed on the harddrive.

The progress for the operation is shown in a dialog indicated by a progress bar.
Once all operations are finished a final confirmation dialog appears. Just confirm this and shut down the program and the computer.

The harddrive is formatted and ready for use now.


 HDD  Note

It can happen at program start or when refreshing the device list in gparted that
Linux detects that new drives are mounted. Dialogs, even plenty of them, like the one shown to the right can pop up. This can be ignored and all dialogs can just be closed.