gdisk stands for GPT fdisk. cfdisk stands for curses fdisk. And so on and so forth.

However, what does the original "f" in fdisk stand for? The only things I can think of would be either "files" or "floppy", but neither of these make a ton of sense.

  • 8
    Joke answer only: The f stands for f***, most commonly used when you write the partition on the wrong disk.
    – whoami
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 1:48
  • 1
    @whoami - That's the other one I've heard more times than anything else 8-)
    – slm
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 1:50
  • 2
    @whoami reminds me of dd... the Data Destroyer :P
    – strugee
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 18:13
  • Thats a good name, I always forget the diff between df du and dd, Mostly start freaking out if I have to use one. It like disk russian roulette. I'll remember the dd now :D
    – whoami
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


I'd gander a guess that it's there for FAT, File Allocation Table. But if you look at Wikipedia the "f" stands for "fixed" as in "fixed disks".

excerpt - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fdisk

For computer file systems, fdisk (for "fixed disk") is a command-line utility that provides disk partitioning functions. In versions of the Windows NT operating system line from Windows 2000 onwards, fdisk is replaced by more advanced tool called diskpart. Similar utilities exist for Unix-like systems.

Windows fdisk?

Granted the above has more to do with the Windows/DOS variant but the term "fixed disk" makes a lot of sense, since hard drives were often termed "fixed" in the olden days.

"fixed disk" definition

The definition of "fixed disk" also says the same.

excerpt - http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fixed+disk

Noun 1. fixed disk - a rigid magnetic disk mounted permanently in a drive unit

Other sources saying the same thing:

Original origins of "fixed disk"

Wikipedia's page on Hard Disk Drives also had this nugget:


In 1961 IBM introduced the model 1311 disk drive, which was about the size of a washing machine and stored two million characters on a removable disk pack. Users could buy additional packs and interchange them as needed, much like reels of magnetic tape. Later models of removable pack drives, from IBM and others, became the norm in most computer installations and reached capacities of 300 megabytes by the early 1980s. Non-removable HDDs were called fixed disk drives.

  • "Fixed disk" was a very common term for hard disks in the 80s when the MS-DOS fdisk program for partitioning hard disks was created. Floppy disks were removable, but hard disks were not removable; they were "fixed" in place. In the 90s when Unix was ported to x86/PC microcomputers, someone created a similar hard disk partitioning program, and (quite naturally, IMO) gave it the same name as the well-known MS-DOS/Windows program. When Linux appeared, it copied many things, including the name of the first HD partition program.
    – Sotto Voce
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 5:16

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