Tag Archives: disk

fdd: Le catalogue extraordinaire

I see the word “fdd” and I think “floppy disk drive.” I don’t know why, but it just pops into my head. This fdd is not a floppy disk drive at all.

2015-03-30-6m47421-fdd-01 2015-03-30-6m47421-fdd-02

You could use it to manage and arrange your floppy disk drives though, and in that sense it’s very helpful.

StreaK left a comment a few days ago about it, and it’s one of the few cataloging tools I can remember for the console. Personally I blame that on the proliferation of high-end, high-performance database tools that are just as easy to use at the command line of your home PC as they are on high-end servers or business-grade machines.

Regardless, fdd is very impressive for its scale. The full-screen approach is nicely arranged with key commands along the bottom, and stretches to fit any size terminal — even smaller than 80×24, which is an accomplishment.

Color is good, with easy-to-read highlights and nicely spaced menus for adding or editing records. fdd is showing its age in some places; it has both 720k and Zip-Disk as options for disk media, even if CDROM and DVD are options too.

I tested fdd by adding a few dull CDs to it, and was pleased to see the ability to read the directory of a drive, and add it automatically to the record, which you can see above. If you’re cataloging collected disks of photos or documents, this could be a huge help.

The home page, as you might have already realized, is long-gone, but the almighty archive.org has an impression of it. Source code is available here, if you want to build it. I didn’t find fdd in either Debian or Arch.

Overall, fdd is a great cataloging tool with good options and a flexible interface. It’s obviously left over from another generation, and now that we’ve arrived at the era of online storage and terabyte-sized media, I don’t know if fdd will find a home or not.

But I can’t deny that it’s a great utility with a great design. I’m willing to give this a gold star even if it probably has outlasted its usefulness: ⭐ Enjoy, if you can. πŸ˜‰

bashmount: Another seemingly roundabout solution

Mounting volumes from the console, without the need for background daemons or automounting tools, has been near the forefront of my Linux experience for years now. If it makes any difference, I’ve tried other options but still rely on mostly the same solution and setup that I did eight years ago.

Which could mean I am stuck in my ways, old-fashioned or just haven’t found a better solution yet. Or it could mean I don’t see any need to reinvent things — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Adding a mount point to /etc/fstab and allowing any user to mount it seems to do the trick. I’ll let you know if it stops. πŸ˜‰

It’s not a very flashy way to handle things though, and if you want something with a little more pizazz, bashmount might deliver for you.

2015-02-25-l3-b7175-bashmount-01 2015-02-25-l3-b7175-bashmount-02

As you can see, bashmount gives you a full array of attached volumes and their status, as well as options for even more information. A lot more than my hotwired solution, anyway. :\

And further, bashmount doesn’t need any fancy daemon packages or weird dependencies, and as far as I can tell, will do its job with only bash as a background framework. Supposedly it will work with udisks2, or some automounting tools, but I didn’t test it on that point.

Although it’s informative, and pretty, and colorful, and easy to use … I don’t think I’ll be adopting it over my home-grown solution.

For one thing, it doesn’t seem to eliminate the need for my fstab solution, since attempting to mount to an unlisted location triggers an error asking for root access. Well, in that case, it would just be quicker to su to root and do things manually.

So again I have a fairly clever tool that seems to do what it’s told, but using it implies a step or two in a roundabout direction before arriving at the same destination. Sort of along the same vein as xcv, which we talked about a week ago.

It may be that you can coax bashmount into avoiding those root permissions requests, or it may be that bashmount works as you expect without any heavy editing on your part. If that’s the case, I encourage you to use bashmount for as long as it satisfies.

I think I shall stick with my direct and straight solution. Not that bashmount doesn’t scratch the itch, only that there wasn’t an itch to start with.

gdisk: A familiar face

I’ll try to keep this one quick; I am already short on time this weekend because of personal obligations. But I also think gdisk is something that resembles fdisk enough (and even perhaps cfdisk and some other partition tools) that mentioning it at all is a rehash of sorts.

Anyway, feast thine eyes:


gdisk, for what I have seen, just about matches fdisk keypress for keypress, with the major difference being its relative comfort in working with the newer generation of hard drives that use GUID partition tables and not MBR style.

Wikipedia tells me the changeover took place sometime around 2009, and so it doesn’t surprise me that I use it so rarely. The newest, most powerful machine I have in the house right now is 8 years old, and I’m wondering if it isn’t time for me to upgrade that. …

I wouldn’t want to fall behind on the times, now would I? πŸ™„

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. 😑

dfc: The way it should be done

This is dfc, and this is how disk usage tools should behave:


That’s just clean, and easy, and clear. Well-labeled, with human-readable denominations and consistent use of color. Adjustable to the width of the terminal, with the addition of filesystem types, and a few other points of interest.

I can’t find a fault to report, unless I want to pick at its choices in color. And given that I can fix that in a few moments by editing .config/dfc/dfcrc, my complaints would be weak indeed.

Plus, dfc wins mega points for converting its output into vanilla HTML. That means you’re only a few keystrokes away from converting the above output into:


You Latex fiends get special attention from dfc too, as do the csv warriors in the crowd. dfc is that helpful. 😎

In fact, I can’t find a thing unlikeable about dfc. I’m more than willing to hand out a coveted-yet-valueless K.Mandla gold star to this one: ⭐ Enjoy! πŸ˜‰

cfdisk: Somehow overlooked

ls vimwiki/ | shuf -n1 has again spoken again, and this time it has pointed out my error in leaving cfdisk out of the lineup nine months ago, when I traveled through the C section.


cfdisk uses ncurses to work as a disk partitioner with some graphical elements. I amuse myself by saying it always intended to look and behave like the original, clunky IBM fdisk utility, but got beaten to the name by fdisk. But they’re both from the util-linux package, so I don’t suppose it matters who claimed the name. πŸ˜‰

I also imagine you probably know your way around cfdisk since it is included by default in just about any distro you could mention. I honestly can’t think of anything offhand that would split away cfdisk and force you to use only fdisk. Or parted.

A small curiosity: The Arch Wiki, which I hold with the same reverence that some religions afford their holy texts, suggests that recent versions of cfdisk don’t align the first partition correctly.

I can attest to seeing some partitions start off-center, which sometimes causes an error message when polling a drive’s partition layout, but it didn’t seem to cause any damage to my system, so I paid no attention to it.

I can’t find any other information on the problem right now, but a deeper scrape of the Intarnets is probably warranted. It may also be that by this date, the error has been ironed out, and the wiki just needs updating. Or maybe you’re reading this in the future, and it has already been fixed, and you’re wondering what I’m yammering about. O_o

Regardless, I will be honest in saying that cfdisk is my tool of choice, when building new systems or setting up USB drives. I appreciate fdisk for its precision and history, but I like my visual arrangements, thank you. πŸ˜‰

tdu (and dugroup): I can think of no better title

I don’t mind being wrong, so long as it’s in the right direction.

A year ago I thought tdu was somehow not working. It was an honest mistake; I couldn’t remember how or why it worked when I used it years ago, and thought it had fallen into disrepair.

Quite to the contrary though:


The missing ingredient was that tdu, like ccze and some other utilities, really doesn’t do anything by itself — instead, it expects data to be piped through it. Ergo,

du -a | tdu

gives you an explorable tree showing file sizes and structure. Easy as pie.

Most of what you can extract from du comes through in tdu, although I notice that some conventions, like the human-readable flag -h, seem to pollute the output.

tdu has a few commands while running, most of which you can skim through by pressing the ? key. Perhaps most interesting are n, which sorts by name, or S, which sorts biggest to smallest.

For what it’s worth, there’s a second, lesser utility on the tdu home page, called dugroup. That lets you clump files in groups according to type — backup, image, sound file, etc. — when they appear in du’s output.

As you can imagine, tdu’s output can change a little bit with that thrown into the mix.

tdu’s home page describes it as “a text-mode disk usage full-screen folding outline doohickey utility thingamabob.” I honestly can’t think of a better title than that. πŸ˜‰

smartmontools: A hard drive’s best friend

Here’s something you don’t see every day:

2014-04-30-6m47421-smartmontools-01 2014-04-30-6m47421-smartmontools-02

I mentioned a short while ago that I bought this hard drive to run in a Dell Inspiron 8000 more than eight years ago, and those screenshots are proof.

The actual conversion is up for debate, but a power-on time of 18,562 hours works out to be more than two years of working time. And it keeps on ticking. πŸ˜€

I know these things because smartmontools tells me. The suite provides a rundown on the S.M.A.R.T. data from a hard drive, then breaks apart the analysis into something vaguely human-readable.

How you interpret the information is up to you, but the beauty of it is that, as I understand it, it’s sometimes possible to get a warning that a drive is about to die.

And as someone who has heard deathly clacking noises from hard drives, any kind of warning would be a good thing. 😯

I must admit I’ve never tried to use smartmontools with either an SSD or any kind of surrogate, nonmechanical drive. It would be interesting to see though.

While it’s not a complete diagnostic tool and not a data recovery utility, it’s worth remembering that the information is available to you. Mark, and remember. πŸ˜‰

P.S., yes, I know 18,562 hours qualifies as Old_Age according to smartctl, and I should have shown that a lot of other categories are marked Pre_Fail. Don’t worry, I have planned accordingly. πŸ˜‰

slocate: All the makings of an intercontinental grudge match

I could be left alone in a windowless room with only a bare light bulb and find to search out the lost files on my computer, and I’d be fine with that.

Then again slocate, and its evil stepsisters in the mlocate coven, might give find a run for its money.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ time find /usr/lib -iname *pcmcia*

real	0m0.400s
user	0m0.120s
sys	0m0.090s

And the upstart?

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ time slocate -qi pcmcia | grep /usr/lib

real	0m0.303s
user	0m0.240s
sys	0m0.000s

Uh-oh. This could shape up to be the match of the century. 😯

Loyalists will insist that slocate is cheating, because it doesn’t really search so much as skim through its database and pick out the stuff you want.

Bolsheviks will counter with reduced time searching, less disk thrashing and adherence to the Second Law of Robotics.

For my own part, I’m not a big fan of databases and meta-information on my system. I appreciate s/m/locate‘s speed and conservation of energy, but my allegiance lies with find.

And really, I know where everything is on my computer. I don’t go searching for stuff that often. πŸ™„

So I say … down with the revolution! 😈

pydf: Disk space, in color

I pulled pydf out of the dark corners of my memory, just to make an appearance here again today.


Simple enough. A good rundown on drives, mounted points, sizes, and space left. A visual indicator for those of us who think it important.

And color. Everybody likes color. πŸ˜‰

And … I can’t think of anything else to say. I know I remember another disk usage tool that used solid blocks instead of ASCII characters, but I can’t recall it now.

I shall soon have to dredge that out of my memory too. πŸ˜•