How to create a big FAT32 partition

October 4, 2007

(Well, this is at least one way to do it… I’m sure there are easier and faster ways.)

Windows XP and up doesn’t let you create a FAT32 partition that’s bigger than 32GB. It can handle them, but not create them.
One obvious way to do it, is… use Linux.

  1. Install Linux in VMware. I used Slackware 12.0 on VMware Workstation 5.5.5.
  2. Add a physical hard disk that uses the disk you’d like to partition. To figure out the exact disk number (i.e. PhysicalDisk5), use diskmgmt.msc.
  3. If you don’t have patience to figure out how to make SCSI work in Linux (as I didn’t), change the disk to an IDE disk:
    • Close VMware and edit the .vmx and .vmdk files manually (with Notepad or any other editor).
    • In the .vmx file, remove the line scsi0.present = “TRUE”
    • In the .vmx file, change any occurrence of scsi0:0 to ide1:1 (this will make the disk IDE Secondary Slave – make sure you have a Secondary Master).
    • In the .vmdk file, change the line ddb.adapterType = “lsilogic” to ddb.adapterType = “ide”
  4. Boot into Linux and login as root.
  5. Run fdisk /dev/hdd (this assumes your HD is IDE Secondary Slave; otherwise, use the correct device name).
  6. Press p to list partitions; delete them all by repeatedly using d; create one partition spanning the whole disk by pressing n and using the default for each question.
  7. Change the type to FAT32 by pressing t, and for the partition type hex code, enter c
  8. Make sure you did nothing wrong, and press w to write the partition table to the disk. This is irreversible!
  9. Back in the root prompt, format the new FAT32 partition by using: mkdosfs -F 32 /dev/hdd1

That’s it – you now have a big FAT32 partition. Make sure you don’t mount it in both Windows and Linux at the same time, because they won’t be sync’ed. (To unmount in Windows, choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths” in diskmgmt.msc, and remove all drive letters and NTFS mount points.)

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Windows features you didn’t know existed: start /b and start /priority

May 12, 2007

In popular Unix/Linux shells, there is an option to start a process in the “background” by (i.e. in bash) typing “./something &“, or pressing Ctrl-Z and then “bg“. The process then prints its output to stdout as usual, but the bash runs in the foreground and receives console stdin.

In Windows, something similar (much less powerful than the bash “jobs”, though) can be done by doing: start /b something

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RealtimeCmd – hotkey for running cmd.exe in realtime priority

May 5, 2007

Sometimes your system hangs because some process enters a busy-loop that does evil things, like allocating huge amounts of memory and causing the swapfile manager to make Windows crawl. In those cases it would be nice to have something that runs in high priority that can kill the offending process. Microsoft addressed this by running winlogon.exe and taskmgr.exe in “High” priority, but that’s just not enough…

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Windows features you didn’t know existed: clip

May 5, 2007
CLIP

Description:
    Redirects output of command line tools to the Windows clipboard.
    This text output can then be pasted into other programs.

Parameter List:
    /?                  Displays this help message.

Examples:
    DIR | CLIP          Places a copy of the current directory
                        listing into the Windows clipboard.

    CLIP < README.TXT   Places a copy of the text from readme.txt
                        on to the Windows clipboard.