mkfs.xfs Command: Tutorial & Examples

Format a device with the XFS file system

The mkfs.xfs command is a crucial tool in the Linux system administrator's toolkit. It belongs to a family of mkfs utilities that are used to create a file system on a device, typically a hard disk partition. The mkfs.xfs command specifically is used to create an XFS file system. XFS is a high-performance file system that was designed by Silicon Graphics for their IRIX operating system in the 1990s. It was later ported to the Linux kernel and is now one of the file system options for Linux distributions.

How mkfs.xfs Works

The mkfs.xfs command works by writing a new file system structure to a disk partition. The new file system is an empty XFS file system. The command does not preserve existing data on the partition, which means it is important to backup any critical data before running the command.

The mkfs.xfs command operates in the user space, unlike the kernel space where the XFS file system operates. It interacts with the disk partition through the shell, which is the command line interface for Linux systems.

Using the mkfs.xfs Command

To create an XFS file system on a partition, you need to run the mkfs.xfs command followed by the device identifier. For instance, to create an XFS file system on a partition identified as /dev/sdb1, you would run:

mkfs.xfs /dev/sdb1

This command will generate output that details the parameters of the new XFS file system, including the size of the file system, the block size, and the inode size.

Common Command Parameters

The mkfs.xfs command comes with several parameters that allow you to customize the file system. Here are a few common ones:

  • -f: This forces the command to run, even if the device is not empty. This is useful when you want to overwrite an existing file system.

  • -l size=value: This sets the size of the log section of the file system. The log is used by XFS to track changes to the file system.

  • -b size=value: This sets the block size of the file system. The default value is 4096 bytes (4 KB), but it can be increased to improve performance for certain types of workloads.

Potential Problems and Pitfalls

While the mkfs.xfs command is powerful, it can also be dangerous if not used properly. Because the command does not preserve existing data on the partition, running it without a proper data backup can lead to data loss.

Another potential issue is creating a file system on the wrong partition. It is important to double-check the device identifier before running the command to avoid overwriting valuable data.

Solving Typical Problems

The mkfs.xfs command can help solve a number of problems related to file systems. For instance, if a file system becomes corrupted and cannot be repaired using the xfs_repair command, it might be necessary to create a new file system using mkfs.xfs. Another situation might be when you need to create a new XFS file system on a newly created partition.


In conclusion, the mkfs.xfs command is a powerful tool for creating XFS file systems. Like any powerful tool, it should be used with caution. Always make sure to backup your data before running the command, and double-check the device identifier to avoid overwriting valuable data. With these precautions in mind, you can use the mkfs.xfs command to effectively manage your XFS file systems.

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license CC BY SA