I got a new Western Digital WD15EARS Caviar Green 1.5TB SATA drive but it seems to use WD new advanced format using 4k blocks or something (I get the general idea but not really).

Is there a way to properly format it for an Ubuntu 9.10 Server to take advantage of the advanced format? Such as with sector sizes?

  • I just posted a little guide about all this. It's partially explained on Western Digital's website but somehow it's incomplete and I ended up gessing from what the WD Align tools fixed in my partitioning mistakes... Anyway here it is: notepad.patheticcockroach.com/927/… – user14764 Aug 17 '10 at 21:10

Is there a way to properly format it for an Ubuntu 9.10 Server to take advantage of the advanced format? Such as with sector sizes?

The potential problem arises not from formatting the drive but from where on the drive the partitions are located. 4K sector drives need to be aligned on a logical block address that is a multiple of 8.

Supposedly the Linux tools have been updated to do the right thing when it comes to the 4K sector drives.

If you are using the most recent version of a popular Linux partition editor to create one or more new partitions on the drive you should be OK.

One warning: The WD drives can be jumpered as a kludge to work "correctly" with partitions created by Windows XP. Since you are using Linux make sure you do not have the jumper set for Windows XP. (If you did have the XP jumper set then you would get terrible performance from the drive).


OK, after Googling around a bit further, I'm confused. On the one hand, I've read the overview articles which claim Linux has no problem at all with 4K sector drives. But on the other hand, there are articles like these which claim the opposite.
Linux Not Fully Prepared for 4096-Byte Sector Hard Drives
Linux WD EARS Advanced Hard Drive Format

The second link above is probably more useful since it seems to offer suggestions on how to properly partition a 4K sector drive.

What I suggest is that you first check the alignment of your partitions by using fdisk -lu to display their starting LBAs. If your partition(s) are already aligned on LBAs that are a multiple of 8 then you should be fine. (You could also time the transfer of a large file just as an extra sanity check.)

If you have unaligned partitions then you probably want to delete and recreate using the method in the second article to ensure they are aligned properly.

Hope this helps ...

  • I'm using the latest version of Ubuntu 9.10 (aptitude full-upgrade). Is that enough? Also, I was using this guide but it may be a bit outdated. I used ext4 instead of ext3. – wag2639 Jun 4 '10 at 21:51
  • ext4, ext3, NTFS ... whatever, it doesn't matter how you format the partition. What matters is the Logical Block Address (LBA) where the partition starts. The Anandtech article you linked to in your question says, "Notably, Linux and Mac OS X are not affected by this issue." I think you'd be safe with Ubuntu 9.10 since it was available around the time WD appears to have been doing their testing. – irrational John Jun 4 '10 at 22:05
  • @wag2639 BTW, what tool are you using to partition your 4k sector WD drive? I'm in the process of trying to digest this article osnews.com/story/22872/… to see if it points out anything which really needs to be worried about. – irrational John Jun 4 '10 at 22:15
  • @john I just left fdisk do whatever the default setting was, at least at first just to make sure the drives works, I was hoping others would chime in over time and offer some advice or other experience. – wag2639 Jun 4 '10 at 22:56
  • just realized i didn't include the guide i was using, i'll include for others with this problem: help.ubuntu.com/community/InstallingANewHardDrive – wag2639 Jun 5 '10 at 18:00

Parted tool starting from version 2.1 is includes support for aligning Advanced Format drives. This recommendation is from WD official FAQ.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.