MKE2FS(8) System Manager's Manual MKE2FS(8)
mke2fs - create an ext2/ext3/ext4 filesystem
mke2fs [ -c | -l filename ] [ -b block-size ] [ -C cluster-size ] [ -d root-directory ] [ -D ] [ -g blocks-per-group ] [ -G number-of-
groups ] [ -i bytes-per-inode ] [ -I inode-size ] [ -j ] [ -J journal-options ] [ -N number-of-inodes ] [ -n ] [ -m reserved-blocks-per-
centage ] [ -o creator-os ] [ -O [^]feature[,...] ] [ -q ] [ -r fs-revision-level ] [ -E extended-options ] [ -v ] [ -F ] [ -L volume-
label ] [ -M last-mounted-directory ] [ -S ] [ -t fs-type ] [ -T usage-type ] [ -U UUID ] [ -V ] [ -e errors-behavior ] [ -z undo_file ]
device [ fs-size ]
mke2fs -O journal_dev [ -b block-size ] [ -L volume-label ] [ -n ] [ -q ] [ -v ] external-journal [ fs-size ]
mke2fs is used to create an ext2, ext3, or ext4 filesystem, usually in a disk partition (or file) named by device.
The file system size is specified by fs-size. If fs-size does not have a suffix, it is interpreted as power-of-two kilobytes, unless the
-b blocksize option is specified, in which case fs-size is interpreted as the number of blocksize blocks. If the fs-size is suffixed by
'k', 'm', 'g', 't' (either upper-case or lower-case), then it is interpreted in power-of-two kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes,
etc. If fs-size is omitted, mke2fs will create the file system based on the device size.
If mke2fs is run as mkfs.XXX (i.e., mkfs.ext2, mkfs.ext3, or mkfs.ext4) the option -t XXX is implied; so mkfs.ext3 will create a file sys-
tem for use with ext3, mkfs.ext4 will create a file system for use with ext4, and so on.
The defaults of the parameters for the newly created filesystem, if not overridden by the options listed below, are controlled by the
/etc/mke2fs.conf configuration file. See the mke2fs.conf(5) manual page for more details.
Specify the size of blocks in bytes. Valid block-size values are 1024, 2048 and 4096 bytes per block. If omitted, block-size is
heuristically determined by the filesystem size and the expected usage of the filesystem (see the -T option). If block-size is pre-
ceded by a negative sign ('-'), then mke2fs will use heuristics to determine the appropriate block size, with the constraint that
the block size will be at least block-size bytes. This is useful for certain hardware devices which require that the blocksize be a
multiple of 2k.
-c Check the device for bad blocks before creating the file system. If this option is specified twice, then a slower read-write test
is used instead of a fast read-only test.
Specify the size of cluster in bytes for filesystems using the bigalloc feature. Valid cluster-size values are from 2048 to 256M
bytes per cluster. This can only be specified if the bigalloc feature is enabled. (See the ext4 (5) man page for more details
about bigalloc.) The default cluster size if bigalloc is enabled is 16 times the block size.
Copy the contents of the given directory into the root directory of the filesystem.
-D Use direct I/O when writing to the disk. This avoids mke2fs dirtying a lot of buffer cache memory, which may impact other applica-
tions running on a busy server. This option will cause mke2fs to run much more slowly, however, so there is a tradeoff to using
Change the behavior of the kernel code when errors are detected. In all cases, a filesystem error will cause e2fsck(8) to check the
filesystem on the next boot. error-behavior can be one of the following:
continue Continue normal execution.
remount-ro Remount filesystem read-only.
panic Cause a kernel panic.
Set extended options for the filesystem. Extended options are comma separated, and may take an argument using the equals ('=')
sign. The -E option used to be -R in earlier versions of mke2fs. The -R option is still accepted for backwards compatibility, but
is deprecated. The following extended options are supported:
Adjust the initial MMP update interval to interval seconds. Specifying an interval of 0 means to use the default inter-
val. The specified interval must be less than 300 seconds. Requires that the mmp feature be enabled.
Configure the filesystem for a RAID array with stride-size filesystem blocks. This is the number of blocks read or writ-
ten to disk before moving to the next disk, which is sometimes referred to as the chunk size. This mostly affects
placement of filesystem metadata like bitmaps at mke2fs time to avoid placing them on a single disk, which can hurt per-
formance. It may also be used by the block allocator.
Configure the filesystem for a RAID array with stripe-width filesystem blocks per stripe. This is typically stride-size
* N, where N is the number of data-bearing disks in the RAID (e.g. for RAID 5 there is one parity disk, so N will be the
number of disks in the array minus 1). This allows the block allocator to prevent read-modify-write of the parity in a
RAID stripe if possible when the data is written.
Create the filesystem at an offset from the beginning of the device or file. This can be useful when creating disk
images for virtual machines.
Reserve enough space so that the block group descriptor table can grow to support a filesystem that has max-online-
lazy_itable_init[= <0 to disable, 1 to enable>]
If enabled and the uninit_bg feature is enabled, the inode table will not be fully initialized by mke2fs. This speeds
up filesystem initialization noticeably, but it requires the kernel to finish initializing the filesystem in the back-
ground when the filesystem is first mounted. If the option value is omitted, it defaults to 1 to enable lazy inode ta-
lazy_journal_init[= <0 to disable, 1 to enable>]
If enabled, the journal inode will not be fully zeroed out by mke2fs. This speeds up filesystem initialization notice-
ably, but carries some small risk if the system crashes before the journal has been overwritten entirely one time. If
the option value is omitted, it defaults to 1 to enable lazy journal inode zeroing.
If the sparse_super2 file system feature is enabled this option controls whether there will be 0, 1, or 2 backup
superblocks created in the file system.
packed_meta_blocks[= <0 to disable, 1 to enable>]
Place the allocation bitmaps and the inode table at the beginning of the disk. This option requires that the flex_bg
file system feature to be enabled in order for it to have effect, and will also create the journal at the beginning of
the file system. This option is useful for flash devices that use SLC flash at the beginning of the disk. It also max-
imizes the range of contiguous data blocks, which can be useful for certain specialized use cases, such as supported
Specify the numeric user and group ID of the root directory. If no UID:GID is specified, use the user and group ID of
the user running mke2fs. In mke2fs 1.42 and earlier the UID and GID of the root directory were set by default to the
UID and GID of the user running the mke2fs command. The root_owner= option allows explicitly specifying these values,
and avoid side-effects for users that do not expect the contents of the filesystem to change based on the user running
Set a flag in the filesystem superblock indicating that it may be mounted using experimental kernel code, such as the
Attempt to discard blocks at mkfs time (discarding blocks initially is useful on solid state devices and sparse / thin-
provisioned storage). When the device advertises that discard also zeroes data (any subsequent read after the discard
and before write returns zero), then mark all not-yet-zeroed inode tables as zeroed. This significantly speeds up
filesystem initialization. This is set as default.
Do not attempt to discard blocks at mkfs time.
Specify the which quota types (usrquota, grpquota, prjquota) which should be enabled in the created file system. The
argument of this extended option should be a colon separated list. This option has effect only if the quota feature is
set. The default quota types to be initialized if this option is not specified is both user and group quotas. If the
project feature is enabled that project quotas will be initialized as well.
-F Force mke2fs to create a filesystem, even if the specified device is not a partition on a block special device, or if other parame-
ters do not make sense. In order to force mke2fs to create a filesystem even if the filesystem appears to be in use or is mounted
(a truly dangerous thing to do), this option must be specified twice.
Specify the number of blocks in a block group. There is generally no reason for the user to ever set this parameter, as the default
is optimal for the filesystem. (For administrators who are creating filesystems on RAID arrays, it is preferable to use the stride
RAID parameter as part of the -E option rather than manipulating the number of blocks per group.) This option is generally used by
developers who are developing test cases.
If the bigalloc feature is enabled, the -g option will specify the number of clusters in a block group.
Specify the number of block groups that will be packed together to create a larger virtual block group (or "flex_bg group") in an
ext4 filesystem. This improves meta-data locality and performance on meta-data heavy workloads. The number of groups must be a
power of 2 and may only be specified if the flex_bg filesystem feature is enabled.
Specify the bytes/inode ratio. mke2fs creates an inode for every bytes-per-inode bytes of space on the disk. The larger the bytes-
per-inode ratio, the fewer inodes will be created. This value generally shouldn't be smaller than the blocksize of the filesystem,
since in that case more inodes would be made than can ever be used. Be warned that it is not possible to change this ratio on a
filesystem after it is created, so be careful deciding the correct value for this parameter. Note that resizing a filesystem
changes the number of inodes to maintain this ratio.
Specify the size of each inode in bytes. The inode-size value must be a power of 2 larger or equal to 128. The larger the inode-
size the more space the inode table will consume, and this reduces the usable space in the filesystem and can also negatively impact
performance. It is not possible to change this value after the filesystem is created.
In kernels after 2.6.10 and some earlier vendor kernels it is possible to utilize inodes larger than 128 bytes to store extended
attributes for improved performance. Extended attributes stored in large inodes are not visible with older kernels, and such
filesystems will not be mountable with 2.4 kernels at all.
The default inode size is controlled by the mke2fs.conf(5) file. In the mke2fs.conf file shipped with e2fsprogs, the default inode
size is 256 bytes for most file systems, except for small file systems where the inode size will be 128 bytes.
-j Create the filesystem with an ext3 journal. If the -J option is not specified, the default journal parameters will be used to cre-
ate an appropriately sized journal (given the size of the filesystem) stored within the filesystem. Note that you must be using a
kernel which has ext3 support in order to actually make use of the journal.
Create the ext3 journal using options specified on the command-line. Journal options are comma separated, and may take an argument
using the equals ('=') sign. The following journal options are supported:
Create an internal journal (i.e., stored inside the filesystem) of size journal-size megabytes. The size of the journal
must be at least 1024 filesystem blocks (i.e., 1MB if using 1k blocks, 4MB if using 4k blocks, etc.) and may be no more
than 10,240,000 filesystem blocks or half the total file system size (whichever is smaller)
Specify the location of the journal. The argument journal-location can either be specified as a block number, or if the
number has a units suffix (e.g., 'M', 'G', etc.) interpret it as the offset from the beginning of the file system.
Attach the filesystem to the journal block device located on external-journal. The external journal must already have
been created using the command
mke2fs -O journal_dev external-journal
Note that external-journal must have been created with the same block size as the new filesystem. In addition, while
there is support for attaching multiple filesystems to a single external journal, the Linux kernel and e2fsck(8) do not
currently support shared external journals yet.
Instead of specifying a device name directly, external-journal can also be specified by either LABEL=label or UUID=UUID
to locate the external journal by either the volume label or UUID stored in the ext2 superblock at the start of the
journal. Use dumpe2fs(8) to display a journal device's volume label and UUID. See also the -L option of tune2fs(8).
Only one of the size or device options can be given for a filesystem.
Read the bad blocks list from filename. Note that the block numbers in the bad block list must be generated using the same block
size as used by mke2fs. As a result, the -c option to mke2fs is a much simpler and less error-prone method of checking a disk for
bad blocks before formatting it, as mke2fs will automatically pass the correct parameters to the badblocks program.
Set the volume label for the filesystem to new-volume-label. The maximum length of the volume label is 16 bytes.
Specify the percentage of the filesystem blocks reserved for the super-user. This avoids fragmentation, and allows root-owned dae-
mons, such as syslogd(8), to continue to function correctly after non-privileged processes are prevented from writing to the
filesystem. The default percentage is 5%.
Set the last mounted directory for the filesystem. This might be useful for the sake of utilities that key off of the last mounted
directory to determine where the filesystem should be mounted.
-n Causes mke2fs to not actually create a filesystem, but display what it would do if it were to create a filesystem. This can be used
to determine the location of the backup superblocks for a particular filesystem, so long as the mke2fs parameters that were passed
when the filesystem was originally created are used again. (With the -n option added, of course!)
Overrides the default calculation of the number of inodes that should be reserved for the filesystem (which is based on the number
of blocks and the bytes-per-inode ratio). This allows the user to specify the number of desired inodes directly.
Overrides the default value of the "creator operating system" field of the filesystem. The creator field is set by default to the
name of the OS the mke2fs executable was compiled for.
Create a filesystem with the given features (filesystem options), overriding the default filesystem options. The features that are
enabled by default are specified by the base_features relation, either in the [defaults] section in the /etc/mke2fs.conf configura-
tion file, or in the [fs_types] subsections for the usage types as specified by the -T option, further modified by the features
relation found in the [fs_types] subsections for the filesystem and usage types. See the mke2fs.conf(5) manual page for more
details. The filesystem type-specific configuration setting found in the [fs_types] section will override the global default found
The filesystem feature set will be further edited using either the feature set specified by this option, or if this option is not
given, by the default_features relation for the filesystem type being created, or in the [defaults] section of the configuration
The filesystem feature set is comprised of a list of features, separated by commas, that are to be enabled. To disable a feature,
simply prefix the feature name with a caret ('^') character. Features with dependencies will not be removed successfully. The
pseudo-filesystem feature "none" will clear all filesystem features.
For more information about the features which can be set, please see
the manual page ext4(5).
-q Quiet execution. Useful if mke2fs is run in a script.
Set the filesystem revision for the new filesystem. Note that 1.2 kernels only support revision 0 filesystems. The default is to
create revision 1 filesystems.
-S Write superblock and group descriptors only. This is an extreme measure to be taken only in the very unlikely case that all of the
superblock and backup superblocks are corrupted, and a last-ditch recovery method is desired by experienced users. It causes mke2fs
to reinitialize the superblock and group descriptors, while not touching the inode table and the block and inode bitmaps. The
e2fsck program should be run immediately after this option is used, and there is no guarantee that any data will be salvageable.
Due to the wide variety of possible options to mke2fs that affect the on-disk layout, it is critical to specify exactly the same
format options, such as blocksize, fs-type, feature flags, and other tunables when using this option, or the filesystem will be fur-
ther corrupted. In some cases, such as filesystems that have been resized, or have had features enabled after format time, it is
impossible to overwrite all of the superblocks correctly, and at least some filesystem corruption will occur. It is best to run
this on a full copy of the filesystem so other options can be tried if this doesn't work.
Specify the filesystem type (i.e., ext2, ext3, ext4, etc.) that is to be created. If this option is not specified, mke2fs will pick
a default either via how the command was run (for example, using a name of the form mkfs.ext2, mkfs.ext3, etc.) or via a default as
defined by the /etc/mke2fs.conf file. This option controls which filesystem options are used by default, based on the fstypes con-
figuration stanza in /etc/mke2fs.conf.
If the -O option is used to explicitly add or remove filesystem options that should be set in the newly created filesystem, the
resulting filesystem may not be supported by the requested fs-type. (e.g., "mke2fs -t ext3 -O extent /dev/sdXX" will create a
filesystem that is not supported by the ext3 implementation as found in the Linux kernel; and "mke2fs -t ext3 -O ^has_journal
/dev/hdXX" will create a filesystem that does not have a journal and hence will not be supported by the ext3 filesystem code in the
Specify how the filesystem is going to be used, so that mke2fs can choose optimal filesystem parameters for that use. The usage
types that are supported are defined in the configuration file /etc/mke2fs.conf. The user may specify one or more usage types using
a comma separated list.
If this option is is not specified, mke2fs will pick a single default usage type based on the size of the filesystem to be created.
If the filesystem size is less than 3 megabytes, mke2fs will use the filesystem type floppy. If the filesystem size is greater than
or equal to 3 but less than 512 megabytes, mke2fs(8) will use the filesystem type small. If the filesystem size is greater than or
equal to 4 terabytes but less than 16 terabytes, mke2fs(8) will use the filesystem type big. If the filesystem size is greater than
or equal to 16 terabytes, mke2fs(8) will use the filesystem type huge. Otherwise, mke2fs(8) will use the default filesystem type
Set the universally unique identifier (UUID) of the filesystem to UUID. The format of the UUID is a series of hex digits separated
by hyphens, like this: "c1b9d5a2-f162-11cf-9ece-0020afc76f16". The UUID parameter may also be one of the following:
clear clear the filesystem UUID
random generate a new randomly-generated UUID
time generate a new time-based UUID
-v Verbose execution.
-V Print the version number of mke2fs and exit.
Before overwriting a file system block, write the old contents of the block to an undo file. This undo file can be used with
e2undo(8) to restore the old contents of the file system should something go wrong. If the empty string is passed as the undo_file
argument, the undo file will be written to a file named mke2fs-device.e2undo in the directory specified via the E2FSPROGS_UNDO_DIR
environment variable or the undo_dir directive in the configuration file.
WARNING: The undo file cannot be used to recover from a power or system crash.
If set to non-zero integer value, its value is used to determine how often sync(2) is called during inode table initialization.
Determines the location of the configuration file (see mke2fs.conf(5)).
If set to non-zero integer value, its value is used to determine first meta block group. This is mostly for debugging purposes.
If set to non-zero integer value, its value is used to determine logical sector size of the device.
If set to non-zero integer value, its value is used to determine physical sector size of the device.
If set, do not show the message of filesystem automatic check caused by mount count or check interval.
This version of mke2fs has been written by Theodore Ts'o <email@example.com>.
mke2fs is part of the e2fsprogs package and is available from http://e2fsprogs.sourceforge.net.
mke2fs.conf(5), badblocks(8), dumpe2fs(8), e2fsck(8), tune2fs(8), ext4(5)
E2fsprogs version 1.44.1 March 2018 MKE2FS(8)