I had Ubuntu on my hard drive and tried to install Arch Linux. Things got messy and I now have an unstable, unbootable machine. I feel the installation failed because there were remains of Ubuntu. I'd like to wipe the hard drive and start over from scratch; without anything on there. How do I do this? I have several partitions made in a desperate attempt to make it all work. So I'd like to remove all partitions and any other information that's on the drive.

I can not start any OS, but I can boot with the Live USB of Arch Linux...

  • The Arch installer's default settings would work, although destroy your other partitions. – frabjous Aug 8 '11 at 4:24
  • I tried that, and used the default settings to install it on one of the partitions, but the other partitions remained in place. – user852091 Aug 8 '11 at 4:27
  • I mean the default partitioning scheme -- this should use four partitions, not one. (Leaving no room for anything else.) If you really think the remnants are causing the problem, launch a gparted live CD and format the entire drive with it as ext4 or something. – frabjous Aug 8 '11 at 4:28

Nuking the first few megabytes of the hard drive should work. Be certain to get the parameter for the of argument correct, as this will cause a severe amount of damage to the first filesystem on the drive, as well as destroy the MBR and partition table.

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX bs=1M count=4
| improve this answer | |
  • I did this for both partitions but the partitions themselves still remained intact. I want the hard drive to start from zero, with no partitions whatsoever. – user852091 Aug 8 '11 at 11:28

The paranoid user would write the entire drive with zeros.

This can be done in a few ways. If you can get to a command prompt from a live CD you can do this:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1M

Assuming /dev/hda is the hard drive you want wiped. Everything will be wiped permanently. Partitions, MBR, etc.

This will take a few hours depending on the size of the disk.

I have had experiences where this does help with XP, but I can't think of any real technical reason why. Don't blame the HDD entirely; take the install step by step and make sure you don't have faulty RAM or something.

| improve this answer | |
  • Rewriting the entire drive isn't necessary. – Mechanical snail Aug 8 '11 at 6:24
  • I tried the method mentioned before (rewriting part of the sdX), and now that I try doing this on the hda it mentions there is no space left after writing just 10M. Then it stops. And I am still stuck with my two partitions. How can I get rid of those partitions?? – user852091 Aug 8 '11 at 11:30
  • When you boot a liveCD the system will create a small RAM drive to store the system files so it avoids putting anything on a disk, its only about 200mb (depending on the system) but most importantly it will show up as a /dev/hda or /dev/sda. ensure you have the correct drive, 'fdisk -l | grep Disk' will help you work out if it is the correct drive. the command will output the size of all detected disks. – Silverfire Aug 9 '11 at 0:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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