In Linux it's possible to format a non-system hard disk directly, without first putting any partitions on it.

I've formatted a raw hard disk using mke2fs, creating an ext4 volume /dev/sda, rather than /dev/sda1.

This seems to work perfectly; and presumably if there's no partition then that's one less thing that can go wrong.

However, I wonder why I can't find anyone else who has advocated this. I know it's not possible in Windows, but I can't find anything in Unix land either.

So if I only want one non-system volume on a hard disk, is there any reason why should first create a partition before formatting it?

EDIT: As is often the case, I've found several related questions here after I posted this one:

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    Personally, having tried it once at home, I wouldn't advocate this approach unless you had a really compelling use case. The unexpectedness of it is a big negative. IMO, of course.
    – roaima
    Nov 3 '18 at 10:37

It's perfectly fine to do that. I've done it on some disks previously.

The only thing is: it might confuse you and others if you/they have to attach that disk to something else. I've had trouble with a set top-box for my TV that wanted a partition and that it had the correct type in the partition table (I had been experimented with that disk previously, so the partition table said it was something strange, while the actual file system was a perfectly fine VFAT (that took quite some time to figure out). And partition tables don't take up much space (especially not compared to the typical size of modern disks), and experience tells us that there's actually more that can go wrong if you don't have a partition table.

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