MKSWAP(8) System Administration MKSWAP(8)
mkswap - set up a Linux swap area
mkswap [options] device [size]
mkswap sets up a Linux swap area on a device or in a file.
The device argument will usually be a disk partition (something like
/dev/sdb7) but can also be a file. The Linux kernel does not look at
partition IDs, but many installation scripts will assume that parti-
tions of hex type 82 (LINUX_SWAP) are meant to be swap partitions.
(Warning: Solaris also uses this type. Be careful not to kill your
The size parameter is superfluous but retained for backwards compati-
bility. (It specifies the desired size of the swap area in 1024-byte
blocks. mkswap will use the entire partition or file if it is omitted.
Specifying it is unwise - a typo may destroy your disk.)
After creating the swap area, you need the swapon command to start
using it. Usually swap areas are listed in /etc/fstab so that they can
be taken into use at boot time by a swapon -a command in some boot
The swap header does not touch the first block. A boot loader or disk
label can be there, but it is not a recommended setup. The recommended
setup is to use a separate partition for a Linux swap area.
mkswap, like many others mkfs-like utils, erases the first partition
block to make any previous filesystem invisible.
However, mkswap refuses to erase the first block on a device with a
disk label (SUN, BSD, ...).
Check the device (if it is a block device) for bad blocks before
creating the swap area. If any bad blocks are found, the count
Go ahead even if the command is stupid. This allows the cre-
ation of a swap area larger than the file or partition it
Also, without this option, mkswap will refuse to erase the first
block on a device with a partition table.
-L, --label label
Specify a label for the device, to allow swapon by label.
-p, --pagesize size
Specify the page size (in bytes) to use. This option is usually
unnecessary; mkswap reads the size from the kernel.
-U, --uuid UUID
Specify the UUID to use. The default is to generate a UUID.
-v, --swapversion 1
Specify the swap-space version. (This option is currently
pointless, as the old -v 0 option has become obsolete and now
only -v 1 is supported. The kernel has not supported v0 swap-
space format since 2.5.22 (June 2002). The new version v1 is
supported since 2.1.117 (August 1998).)
Display help text and exit.
Display version information and exit.
The maximum useful size of a swap area depends on the architecture and
the kernel version.
The maximum number of the pages that is possible to address by swap
area header is 4294967295 (UINT_MAX). The remaining space on the swap
device is ignored.
Presently, Linux allows 32 swap areas. The areas in use can be seen in
the file /proc/swaps
mkswap refuses areas smaller than 10 pages.
If you don't know the page size that your machine uses, you may be able
to look it up with "cat /proc/cpuinfo" (or you may not - the contents
of this file depend on architecture and kernel version).
To set up a swap file, it is necessary to create that file before ini-
tializing it with mkswap, e.g. using a command like
# fallocate --length 8GiB swapfile
Note that a swap file must not contain any holes. Using cp(1) to cre-
ate the file is not acceptable. Neither is use of fallocate(1) on file
systems that support preallocated files, such as XFS or ext4, or on
copy-on-write filesystems like btrfs. It is recommended to use dd(1)
and /dev/zero in these cases. Please read notes from swapon(8) before
adding a swap file to copy-on-write filesystems.
enables libblkid debug output.
The mkswap command is part of the util-linux package and is available
util-linux March 2009 MKSWAP(8)
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