Reformat USB stick with a CD ISO9660 FS

Bevin Watson bevin_watson at
Thu Jun 12 14:05:51 BST 2008

On Thu, 2008-06-12 at 22:06 +1000, Dave Hall wrote:
> On Thu, 2008-06-12 at 21:40 +1000, Bevin Watson wrote:
> > A couple of days ago the nice people from MBF handed out 512 Mb USB
> > sticks at the train station.  It has a small ISO9660 (CD) partition
> > which directs Windows users to their web site.  The rest (500 Mb or so)
> > is left as an empty vfat partition.
> > I did the right thing and went to the web site and read it in detail.
> > Now I want to give the USB to my child.  He is too young to take out
> > insurance so I want to remove CD partition to stop annoying pop-ups.
> > It says the CD file system is read-only (obviously) and won't let me
> > delete the files from it.  It seems the simplest thing is to just
> > reformat the whole device.  However, I'm getting a little out of my
> > league thinking about partitions versus the whole device.  fdisk etc.
> > seem to be partition-based.  Should I just "dd" all over it?
> > nb: The USB stick shows up as /dev/scd1 (ISO 9660) and /dev/sdd1 (vfat)
> Try this
> Install gparted via Synaptic (System -> Administration)
> put the usb stick into your PC
> Unmount the devices (In nautilus right click and select unmount)
> Run gparted (System -> Administration -> Partition Editor)
> Enter your password when prompted
> Select the usb stick from the drop down on the right (probably /dev/sdd
> for you)
> Make sure it shows the 2 partitions one ISO9660 and the other as vfat
> Select each partition and hit delete
> Click apply and confirm (and hope you selected the right device)
> Now click on the unallocated area
> Click the new button
> By default it should have selected all of the device
> Change the filesystem to FAT32
> Click the Add button
> Click Apply and confirm
> Give it to your son and tell him the reason why private health insurance
> is such a rip off is because the companies waste sooo much money on
> stupid promotions like giving away USB keys which link to their website.
> Also point out to him that part of the reason for such high petrol
> prices is because of the amount of pointless plastic produced each year
> which ends up in landfill within days on a consumer receiving it.  Then
> finally tell your son to ask his IT teacher when his school will stop
> wasting money on MS licenses
> Ok, that last step is optional :)
> Cheers
> Dave
This is where it gets a bit odd.
When I call up gparted I only see /dev/sdd (the harmless vfat
partition).  I removed the vfat partition.
sudo gparted I get:
Unable to open /dev/scd1 read-write (Read-only file system).  /dev/scd1
has been opened read-only.
Unable to open /dev/scd1 - unrecognised disk label.
The little blue light on the USB is flogging itself to death.
Interestingly, on my wife's laptop running MS Vista I had similar
results - it basically locked the thing up.  Maybe I've just got crook
BTW Good point, but I'm more concerned about publicly-subsidised health
insurance going towards chiropracy and sports shoes than USB keys.
BTW2 ...tell me about it...  My daughter in a specialised high-tech high
school takes in ISO standard document to her science teacher and he
can't read it !!!  The govt spends millions on MS software and hardware
for schools, but isn't interested in air-conditioning, power points,
network cables or teacher training.
Ahhh, it's nice to have things to whinge about.

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