Note of warning
This manpage has been automatically generated from mtools's texinfo
documentation, and may not be entirely accurate or complete. See the
end of this man page for details.
The mformat command is used to add an MS-DOS file system to a low-level
formatted diskette. Its syntax is:
mformat [-t cylinders|-T tot_sectors] [-h heads] [-s sectors]
[-f size] [-1] [-4] [-8]
[-F] [-S sizecode]
[-N serial_number] [-a]
[-C] [-H hidden_sectors] [-I fsVersion]
[-r root_sectors] [-L fat_len]
[-B boot_sector] [-k]
[-X] [-2 sectors_on_track_0] [-3]
[-0 rate_on_track_0] [-A rate_on_other_tracks]
Mformat adds a minimal MS-DOS file system (boot sector, FAT, and root
directory) to a diskette that has already been formatted by a Unix low-
The following options are supported: (The S, 2, 1 and M options may not
exist if this copy of mtools has been compiled without the USE_2M
The following options are the same as for MS-DOS's format command:
v Specifies the volume label. A volume label identifies the disk
and can be a maximum of 11 characters. If you omit the -v
switch, mformat will assign no label to the disk.
f Specifies the size of the DOS file system to format. Only a cer-
tain number of predefined sizes are supported by this flag; for
others use the -h/-t/-s flags. The following sizes are sup-
160 160K, single-sided, 8 sectors per track, 40 cylinders
(for 5 1/4 DD)
180 160K, single-sided, 9 sectors per track, 40 cylinders
(for 5 1/4 HD)
1440 1440K, double-sided, 18 sectors per track, 80 cylinders
(for 3 1/2 HD)
2880 2880K, double-sided, 36 sectors per track, 80 cylinders
(for 3 1/2 ED)
t Specifies the number of tracks on the disk.
T Specifies the number of total sectors on the disk. Only one of
these 2 options may be specified (tracks or total sectors)
h The number of heads (sides).
s Specifies the number of sectors per track. If the 2m option is
given, number of 512-byte sector equivalents on generic tracks
(i.e. not head 0 track 0). If the 2m option is not given, num-
ber of physical sectors per track (which may be bigger than 512
1 Formats a single side (equivalent to -h 1)
4 Formats a 360K double-sided disk (equivalent to -f 360). When
used together with -the 1 switch, this switch formats a 180K
8 Formats a disk with 8 sectors per track.
MS-DOS format's q, u and b options are not supported, and s has a dif-
The following options are specific to mtools:
F Format the partition as FAT32.
S The size code. The size of the sector is 2 ^ (sizecode + 7).
X formats the disk as an XDF disk. See section XDF, for more
details. The disk has first to be low-level formatted using the
xdfcopy utility included in the fdutils package. XDF disks are
used for instance for OS/2 install disks.
2 2m format. The parameter to this option describes the number of
sectors on track 0, head 0. This option is recommended for sec-
tors bigger than normal.
3 don't use a 2m format, even if the current geometry of the disk
is a 2m geometry.
0 Data transfer rate on track 0
A Data transfer rate on tracks other than 0
pies and hard disk partitions, but is interesting for image
H number of hidden sectors. This parameter is useful for format-
ting hard disk partition, which are not aligned on track bound-
aries (i.e. first head of first track doesn't belong to the par-
tition, but contains a partition table). In that case the number
of hidden sectors is in general the number of sectors per cylin-
der. This is untested.
I Sets the fsVersion id when formatting a FAT32 drive. In order
to find this out, run minfo on an existing FAT32 drive, and mail
me about it, so I can include the correct value in future ver-
sions of mtools.
c Sets the size of a cluster (in sectors). If this cluster size
would generate a FAT that too big for its number of bits, mtools
automatically increases the cluster size, until the FAT is small
d Sets the number of FAT copies. Default is 2. This setting can
also be specified using the MTOOLS_NFATS environment variable.
r Sets the size of the root directory (in sectors). Only applica-
ble to 12 and 16 bit FATs. This setting can also be specified
using the MTOOLS_DIR_LEN environment variable.
L Sets the length of the FAT.
B Use the boot sector stored in the given file or device, instead
of using its own. Only the geometry fields are updated to match
the target disks parameters.
k Keep the existing boot sector as much as possible. Only the
geometry fields and other similar file system data are updated
to match the target disks parameters.
K Sets the sector number where the backup of the boot sector
should be stored (only relevant on FAT32).
m Use a non-standard media descriptor byte for this disk. The
media descriptor is stored at position 21 of the boot sector,
and as first byte in each FAT copy. Using this option may con-
fuse DOS or older mtools version, and may make the disk unread-
able. Only use if you know what you are doing.
To format a diskette at a density other than the default, you must sup-
ply (at least) those command line parameters that are different from
Mformat returns 0 on success or 1 on failure.
It doesn't record bad block information to the Fat, use mbadblocks for
how to view the texinfo doc.
* To generate a printable copy from the texinfo doc, run the fol-
./configure; make dvi; dvips mtools.dvi
* To generate a html copy, run:
./configure; make html
A premade html can be found at `http://www.gnu.org/software/mtools/man-
* To generate an info copy (browsable using emacs' info mode),
./configure; make info
The texinfo doc looks most pretty when printed or as html. Indeed, in
the info version certain examples are difficult to read due to the
quoting conventions used in info.
mtools-4.0.18 09Jan13 mformat(1)
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