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I am attempting to ascertain the type of file system a particular partition has. The command fdisk -l gives me the output;

/dev/sdb1            2048   976773167   488385560    b  W95 FAT32

However the command fsck -N gives me the output;

[/sbin/fsck.ext2 (1) -- /dev/sdb1] fsck.ext2 /dev/sdb1

Whilst mount returns;

/dev/sdb1      vfat     488147168       16 488147152   1% /media/0DE3-DE95

And file -sL /dev/sdb1 displays the most confusing information;

x86 boot sector, mkdosfs boot message display, code offset 0x58, OEM-ID " mkdosfs", sectors/cluster 32, Media descriptor 0xf8, heads 255, sectors 976771120 (volumes > 32 MB) , FAT (32 bit), sectors/FAT 238368, serial number 0xde3de95, label: 
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This information is actually all consistent.

FDISk is reporting the partition type (I am pretty sure that technically speaking you can use any partition type, but nevertheless the one you have is correct).

The FSCK command simply shows how FSCK would want to format the disk if you did not tell it otherwise. I suspect it does not attempt to read the partition type, so it is just guessing at what FS you might want - incorrectly. (Hence why you would use fsck.vfat)

Mount is showing you that it is formatted as VFAT (which is Linux's way of saying FAT)

Not sure what is confusing you about the file command ? It is telling you its a FAT system (FAT comming from the days of DOS), and that it is FAT 32.

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Thanks. I found the outputs confusing because when I run the command fsck -N I would have expected to see vfat as opposed to ext2. I found the file command confusing because of all the superflous information i.e. code offset 0x58, sectors/cluster 32. I presume these have to do with sectors and cylinders. Is that correct? – PeanutsMonkey Mar 16 '13 at 8:12
Not sure, but yes, those look very much like disk geometry information to me as well. – davidgo Mar 16 '13 at 8:21
Can you further elaborate on your point regarding fsck? I didn't quite understand. – PeanutsMonkey Mar 16 '13 at 23:13
According to the manual, FSCK attempts to deduce the filesystem from /etc/fstab. If the file is not in /etc/fstab it defaults to ext2. I'm guessing this disk is a removable disk and thus is not in /etc/fstab. [ This makes sense - fsck works on a block device, it does not care about partition type ] – davidgo Mar 16 '13 at 23:18

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