I want to test some physical links in a setup. The software tooling that I can use to test this require a block device to read/write from/to. The block devices I have available can't saturate the physical link so I can't fully test it.

I know I can setup a virtual block device which is backed by a file. So my idea was to somehow setup a virtual block device to /dev/null but the problem is of course that I can't read from it. Is there a way I could setup a virtual block device that writes to /dev/null but just returns always zero when read?

Thank you for any help!

  • 1
    You could also see if this looks interesting to you kernel.org/doc/Documentation/block/null_blk.txt
    – user223947
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 12:03
  • 1
    Being that the context seems to be Linux and this is a highly OS-specific (kernel-specific) question, I added linux tag. Please feel free to remove if this is in error, or add other tags as appropriate. Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 13:55

2 Answers 2



See Documentation/device-mapper/zero.txt for usage. This target has no target-specific parameters.

The "zero" target create that functions similarly to /dev/zero: All reads return binary zero, and all writes are discarded. Normally used in tests [...]

This creates a 1GB (1953125-sector) zero target:

root# dmsetup create 1gb-zero --table '0 1953125 zero'

If you don't need it to have a specific limited size, you can just use /dev/zero directly. Technically it's a character device, not block.

/dev/zero discards writes like /dev/null but reads as zero instead of EOF.

As documented in the man page, on Linux you can make your own under any name with
mknod -m 666 /dev/zero c 1 5 Or of course make a symlink to /dev/zero.

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