Getting this error in Red Hat's Palimpsest (Disk Utility)? Use gdisk to define partitions first, then you'll have no problems :).

The problem

Starting with their larger capacity, multi-terabyte/tebibyte drives, Seagate and Western Digital have moved from a 512 byte sector size to 4 kb. The benefits and tradeoffs of this new low level format is beyond the scope of this post; suffice to say it wrecks havoc with certain drive formatting tools!

If you attempt to format one of these newer drives in Palimpsest, you may receive an error similar to this:

The partition is misaligned by 3072 bytes. This may result in very poor performance. Repartitioning is suggested.

Technically the drive is completely usable in this state, but you'll pay a hefty performance penalty.

The solution

At the time of writing this post, both GParted and Palimpsest have trouble with these drives, but gdisk can handle them. Gdisk is a command line based disk editor that works on GUID GPT drives.

I shouldn't need to tell you to back up your data and quadruple check you're performing operations on the right drive. Please be careful!

  1. Install from your package manager (no, really?)

  2. Launch gdisk as root with the device path of your new drive; you can find that out from Palimpsest’s “Device” label. It’ll look something like this:

    # gdisk /dev/sd[x]

  3. Type n for new partition, and accept the defaults, assuming you want a partition that takes the entire drive.

  4. Type “w” to write the changes.

Now you can format the drive with any tool you wish!