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USB stick

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How to format and manage USB stick (USB drive) for data storage transfer. To make openSUSE installation USB stick, see Create installation USB stick.

Tested on openSUSE

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Choose right file system

USB sticks are usually used for data sharing. To use a USB stick on different systems, you need to choose right file system that can be read and write by all operating systems you might use.


exFAT/FAT64 should be your first choice for many reasons:

  1. Supported by Linux, BSD, Windows (Vista and newer) and Mac (10.6.5 and newer)
  2. Supported by most music players and smart TV
  3. Almost unlimited single file size: 16 EiB = 18446744073.71 GB
  4. Optimized for better performance on Flash drive


FAT/FAT32 is another good choice if your single file size is smaller than 4 GB. It supports wider range of operating systems and devices, especially old systems and devices.


NTFS, the current default Windows file system, is also supported by Linux and Mac but still has some issues. Most electronic devices don't support NTFS by now. So it is not recommended.

XFS, EXT4, BtrFS are only supported by Linux and BSD. Windows and Mac support none of them unless install special drivers. However, if you only work with Linux and BSD, they are totally fine.

XFS is good at large files. It is widely used on modern Linux systems for data storage. However, if you have thousands of small files, the copy/move performance of XFS is not so good.

EXT4 is very old and doesn't support Flash memory as well as newer file systems. But its writing and reading speed is faster than XFS and BtrFS.

BtrFS is the new default Linux file system. It has many amazing features but most of them are not necessary for your USB stick.

Create and format partition

Start YaST Partitioner tool: YaST --> System --> Partitioner

View tree list on the left pannel. In "Hard disks" section, find your USB devices. "sda" is your system hard disk, and it contains partitions "sda1", "sda2", "sda3"... Your USB stick should be "sdb", "sdc", etc. You can recognize by their storage space and device information.

If your USB stick used to be a openSUSE installer, it contains several hidden partition. When you plug it to computer, it won't be recognized as a storage device and you cannot find it on file manager sidebar.

You can delete old partitions on your USB stick and create new one. One single partition is enough for USB sticks and drives.

  1. Choose Primary partition (max. 4 partition) should be enough
  2. Use all space of storage device
  3. Choose Data and independent software as role/usage
  4. Select FAT file system (it is exFAT actually) or whatever you need (see previous section)
  5. Choose Do not mount partition

You can always undo or cancel before clicking "Finish".

If everything is okay, click "Finish" button to execute partitioning actions.

Change partition label

You can give a partition a meaningful name. If it already has a name but you do not like it, you can change it. USB stick written for openSUSE system installation are usually named like "openSUSE_Leap_42.2-x86_64-DVD". Formating USB stick doesn't change the label. You need some command to rename USB sticks.


If your USB stick use FAT or exFAT:

sudo mlabel -i /dev/sdb1 ::Jimmy_16GB

Change "sdb1" to actual partition name of USB stick. The label cannot be too long. If label contains space, use "\ " instead " " in command.





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