GParted block size warning

Problem

I opened GParted to look at the partition information of my drives. It popped up this strange warning:

The driver descriptor says the physical block size is 2048 bytes, but Linux says it is 512 bytes

I figured out that this error was about a USB thumb drive that was plugged into my computer. That USB drive was working fine and I could mount and read its files. So, what is this warning and how to fix it?

Solution

Turns out that the block size for this drive was set to 2048 bytes. It should have been 512 bytes. Its disk size was also appearing 4 times larger in GParted!

On thinking further about this, I remembered that this drive had been formatted as a bootable media to install Ubuntu using GNOME Disks as described here. That disk writer must have erroneously set the block size of this drive as 2048 bytes.

Changing back the block size to 512 was easy:

$ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc bs=2048 count=1

Replace /dev/sdc with the device ID for your USB thumb drive.

Tried with: Ubuntu 16.04

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GParted hangs searching partitions

Problem

I had to extend a Windows partition on a Dell Inspiron 1320 notebook. So, I booted the computer with a Ubuntu USB disk. To extend the partition, I opened GParted. However, it was stuck at Searching /dev/sda partitions. This task did not finish even though I left the computer for many hours!

Solution

It turns out that this a common problem on Dell notebooks, as reported in detail here. The culprit is the tiny partition that Dell puts at the beginning of the disk. On my notebook this partition appears in Windows as OEM Partition. I cannot mount, umount, change or delete it from Windows! I could not find any solution online that describes how to do this either.

Note: I was able to extend the Windows partition though. Turns out it can be done easily from Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Disk Management. I was actually surprised it allowed me to extend a live mounted partition. But it does it in a snap!

How to label a partition in Ubuntu

A label makes it easy for users to identify a partition. This is especially necessary if you deal with a lot of partitions. Technically, not all partitions can be labeled. This is because a label is a feature of the filesystem and not all filesystems might support it.

I find that using GParted is the easiest way to label a partition. Open it, right-click the partition you want in the list and choose Label. Note that you may have to unmount the partition before you label.

Tried with: GParted 0.11.0 and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

How to resize partitions using Ubuntu

Sometimes it might be necessary to adjust the size of one or more partitions. This operation cannot be performed while those partitions are mounted and being used by Ubuntu.

The easiest way to perform this operation is by using any Ubuntu installation disc or USB flash drive. Boot up with the Ubuntu installer and choose to try out the OS. Then open the Dash and search for GParted.

In GParted, you can not only resize, but add or delete partitions too. Remember that if you shift the starting sector of the first Windows partition or the Linux partition that holds /boot then your computer will not boot. (You will need to edit your Grub bootloader to make this work.) Anything else is game and easy to perform.

Tried with: Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS