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Creating and managing partitions in Linux with parted

Expand your sysadmin skills with this introduction to the parted command.
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Using the parted command

So you need to manage a storage device? Well, if you are a Linux administrator, then you are in luck. As it turns out, there are a ton of different tools and command suites that you can use to accomplish this. Today we are going to look at the parted command suite. GNU parted (PARTition EDitor) was created by Andrew Clausen and Lennert Buytenhek. It runs at the command line, or with a graphical interface, if that's more your speed. We are going to focus on the command line variant here. Let's look at some of the functionality parted offers.

The parted utility

Parted allows you to add, shrink, extend, and remove partitions from storage disks on your system. Be sure of what you are doing when making changes to partitions. I recommend that you explore the tool on a virtual machine that contains no important data. You will also need root access to the system. I am using parted on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 for this example. Parted comes pre-installed in this particular distro, but if you need to install it on a different Linux flavor, there is plenty of information online. For now, let's take a look at the basic operations with which you will want to be familiar.

Listing partitions with parted

The first thing that you want to do anytime that you need to make changes to your disk is to find out what partitions you already have. Displaying existing partitions allows you to make informed decisions moving forward and helps you nail down the partition names will need for future commands. Run the parted command to start parted in interactive mode and list partitions. It will default to your first listed drive. You will then use the print command to display disk information.

[root@rhel ~]# parted /dev/sdc
    GNU Parted 3.2
    Using /dev/sdc
    Welcome to GNU Parted! Type 'help' to view a list of commands.
    (parted) print                                                            
    Error: /dev/sdc: unrecognised disk label
    Model: ATA VBOX HARDDISK (scsi)                                           
    Disk /dev/sdc: 1074MB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: unknown
    Disk Flags:
    (parted)              

Creating new partitions with parted

Now that you can see what partitions are active on the system, you are going to add a new partition to /dev/sdc. You can see in the output above that there is no partition table for this partition, so add one by using the mklabel command. Then use mkpart to add the new partition. You are creating a new primary partition using the ext4 architecture. For demonstration purposes, I chose to create a 50 MB partition.

(parted) mklabel msdos                                                    
    (parted) mkpart                                                           
    Partition type?  primary/extended? primary                                
    File system type?  [ext2]? ext4                                           
    Start? 1                                                                  
    End? 50                                                                   
    (parted)                                                                  
    (parted) print                                                            
    Model: ATA VBOX HARDDISK (scsi)
    Disk /dev/sdc: 1074MB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: msdos
    Disk Flags:
    
    Number  Start   End     Size    Type     File system  Flags
     1      1049kB  50.3MB  49.3MB  primary  ext4         lba

Modifying existing partitions with parted

Now that you have created the new partition at 50 MB, you can resize it to 100 MB, and then shrink it back to the original 50 MB. First, note the partition number. You can find this information by using the print command. You are then going to use the resizepart command to make the modifications.

(parted) resizepart                                                       
    Partition number? 1                                                       
    End?  [50.3MB]? 100                                                       
        
    (parted) print                                                            
    Model: ATA VBOX HARDDISK (scsi)
    Disk /dev/sdc: 1074MB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: msdos
    Disk Flags:
    
    Number  Start   End    Size    Type     File system  Flags
     1      1049kB  100MB  99.0MB  primary

You can see in the above output that I resized partition number one from 50 MB to 100 MB. You can then verify the changes with the print command. You can now resize it back down to 50 MB. Keep in mind that shrinking a partition can cause data loss.

    (parted) resizepart                                                       
    Partition number? 1                                                       
    End?  [100MB]? 50                                                         
    Warning: Shrinking a partition can cause data loss, are you sure you want to
    continue?
    Yes/No? yes                                                               
    
    (parted) print
    Model: ATA VBOX HARDDISK (scsi)
    Disk /dev/sdc: 1074MB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: msdos
    Disk Flags:
    
    Number  Start   End     Size    Type     File system  Flags
     1      1049kB  50.0MB  49.0MB  primary

Removing partitions with parted

Now, let's look at how to remove the partition you created at /dev/sdc1 by using the rm command inside of the parted suite. Again, you will need the partition number, which is found in the print output.

NOTE: Be sure that you have all of the information correct here, there are no safeguards or are you sure? questions asked. When you run the rm command, it will delete the partition number you give it.

    (parted) rm 1                                                             
    (parted) print                                                            
    Model: ATA VBOX HARDDISK (scsi)
    Disk /dev/sdc: 1074MB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: msdos
    Disk Flags:
    
    Number  Start  End  Size  Type  File system  Flags

Wrap-up

Parted is another great option for manipulating hard disks in Linux, and is about as easy to use as any tool I've seen! From creation, deletion, shrinking, extending, etc, there is so much functionality offered. I highly recommend that you take the time to learn parted, and if you have the chance, consider using it to accomplish your next partitioning job!

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Topics:   Storage   Linux  
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Tyler Carrigan

Tyler is a community manager at Enable Sysadmin, a submarine veteran, and an all-round tech enthusiast! He was first introduced to Red Hat in 2012 by way of a Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based combat system inside the USS Georgia Missile Control Center. More about me

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