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There's a New GNU fdisk in Town

By Joe Brockmeier (Send Email)
Posted October 12, 2011


GNU fdisk is one of those utilities we don't think about much. It's been around for ages, it does its job, and it really doesn't noticed often. But don't tell the GNU fdisk folks that--they've been busy re-writing fdisk to modernize it a bit.

The announcement went out on Monday from the GNU fdisk maintainers. The current release is 2.0.0a (alpha). While it shouldn't be considered anywhere near ready for production use, it's good to look at this and see where fdisk is going. And, of course, now is a good time for developers to get their hands on it for projects that make use of fdisk.

What's New?

What's different in this version of fdisk? According to the announcement, fdisk has been re-written with a modular design that will make it easier to write new user interfaces and device backends. Since fdisk may be called by quite a few programs, this is a good thing for developers who want to simplify working with fdisk.

GNU fdisk now comprises several libraries and one executable. The libraries include a generic fdisk library, a debug library, an exception library, a common interface for devices, a device manager library and a user interface library. There's also a core program written in C.

Right now, fdisk doesn't have a user interface--but it does have a shell that can be invoked. So if you want to help with testing, you can run gnufdisk shell. This will give you a guile prompt where you can work with devices interactively.

Help Needed

The latest release of GNU fdisk is not ready for prime-time--yet, but it's ready for people who are interested in fdisk to dig in and start testing and helping.

One area where the project is looking for help is with documentation. The current documentation is incomplete and could use a few more volunteers to flesh out. I doubt they'd turn away help creating user interfaces for the new release, either.

Since this is a GNU project, it should not be surprising that it's released under the GPLv3.

It's good to see a project like GNU fdisk getting a thorough overhaul. These utilities often go unnoticed, so it's nice that there's still energy in the project for going beyond mere maintenance.

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years covering IT. Formerly the openSUSE Community Manager for Novell, Brockmeier has written for Linux Magazine, Sys Admin, Linux Pro Magazine, IBM developerWorks, Linux.com, CIO.com, Linux Weekly News, ZDNet, and many other publications. You can reach Zonker at jzb@zonker.net and follow him on Twitter.

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