nwipe: Great trepidation and fierce consternation

Both AUR and Debian agree that nwipe is the core tool once found in the dban disk annihilator tool. I say “once found” because the home page seems to have changed from what I remember, and it appears to be pitching another utility called “Blancco.”

But to add to the confusion, AUR and Debian have different home pages for the nwipe project, one pointing to Sourceforge and another to a Github page, respectively. It’s possible those are just mirrors for the project, but I do wonder if there are differences.

No matter; what you see here is the version available to Arch users.


And it doesn’t look much different from the core dban program. Select a drive, step through your options, and start with F10. If you ever used the dban live system, this single program works much the same way.

You have the ability to set your erasing options as command-line flags, which is something that was technically available to the original project, if you were willing to remaster the ISO.

And the infamous “autonuke” option is still around, which starts up and immediately begins exterminating every bit of data on any drive it can find. The implications are frightening.

I see a few improvements here and there, possibly most unusual being the ability to blank the screen — not erase the screen, just empty it😳 — while nwipe runs, ostensibly saving you the screen burn-in while nwipe eats up your hours … and your hard drive.

It might also be important since the version I used had a once-per-second flicker effect as it updated the screen. Blanking the screen was the only solution for stopping the flashing blue box in the corner of my eye.

nwipe is comfortable running outside of 80×24, but oddly, all the text will remain in those dimensions even if the frames are drawn larger. Odder still, the on-screen help along the bottom gets arbitrarily cut off at 24 characters, which seems like an oversight.

dban is a time-honored tool that I’ve been using off and on for the better part of a decade, and so I hold it in high esteem. I’ve run it for weeks on end, 24 hours a day for various reasons, and gotten great results with it.

As an offshoot, nwipe is equally regarded, even if I bundle my meager endorsement with a stern warning: Be very very careful when you use it. nwipe does not make apologies. Use with care.😡