10

I have a drive (SD card) with a few ext4 partitions but also some unallocated space. The fstrim utility can only work within a filesystem. Before I reinvent the wheel and write one, is there another utility that can TRIM the unallocated space (or that can TRIM an explicitly specified range)?

I can verify that the majority of the unallocated space on the device is not currently known to be free by the controller, as I've observed that, on this particular card, reads to trimmed space return 0's, but a scan of the device shows plenty of garbage data left over.

Edit: I am having an issue using hdparm. The example below discards the first sector, but I am seeing the same results regardless of the range I specify. fstrim has no issues on the device:

root@ubuntu:~# hdparm --please-destroy-my-drive --trim-sector-ranges 0:1 --verbose /dev/mmcblk0 

/dev/mmcblk0:
trimming 1 sectors from 1 ranges
outgoing cdb:  85 0d 06 00 01 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 40 06 00
outgoing_data:  
00 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

ioctl(fd,SG_IO): Invalid argument
FAILED: Invalid argument

I am investigating further but does anybody have any insight?

  • 1
    If you map the unpartitioned space with one or more partition(s) (temporarily), you could use blkdiscard on them which trims the entire device. – frostschutz Oct 22 '13 at 19:03
  • Thanks! That looks like the right tool, but blkdiscard does not seem to be available in my standard package repositories (Ubuntu 12.04, doesn't seem to be present in util-linux). – Jason C Oct 22 '13 at 20:04
  • I was never able to get hdparm working for me for some reason, but I grabbed the util-linux source from github.com/karelzak/util-linux/tree/stable/v2.23, built it (./autogen.sh ; ./configure ; make blkdiscard) and it's working great. Still mystified about hdparm but blkdiscard does exactly what I want. Bonus: There's no need to make a temporary filesystem first, you can use sfdisk -l to figure out the space between partitions and have blkdiscard trim it. – Jason C Oct 30 '13 at 22:14
  • Oh, I wasn't even aware of blkdiscard being able to work with offset/length options. So the temporary partitions I suggested aren't even necessary. Nice! – frostschutz Oct 31 '13 at 10:45
14

If you have a recent enough version of util-linux, it contains the tool blkdiscard which is able to TRIM entire devices, or ranges within a device using --offset and --length options.

Please note: blkdiscard is dangerous, if you let it TRIM the wrong regions, your data is gone!

So you can figure out the unpartitioned (free) regions of your partition table and then TRIM them using this tool. For msdos and gpt partitions, parted provides the free regions like so:

# parted -m /dev/sda unit b print free | grep ':free;'
1:17408B:1048575B:1031168B:free;
1:64022904832B:64023240191B:335360B:free;

Add a loop to it...

while IFS=: read -ra FREE
do
    echo blkdiscard --offset ${FREE[1]%%B} --length ${FREE[3]%%B} /dev/sda
done < <(parted -m /dev/sda unit b print free | grep ':free;')

which prints

blkdiscard --offset 17408 --length 1031168 /dev/sda
blkdiscard --offset 64022904832 --length 335360 /dev/sda

Verify that this output is correct for you, add additional options if you like (verbose?), and finally remove the echo so it will be actually executed, and you should be set.

The second command of that example actually fails because the length is too small - it may be worth checking inside the loop, ignore regions smaller than 1MB as they're unlikely to be successfully trimmed.


If you are using LVM instead of partitions, you can create a LV for the unoccupied space and trim that:

lvcreate -l100%FREE -n blkdiscard SSD-VG
blkdiscard -v /dev/SSD-VG/blkdiscard
lvremove SSD-VG/blkdiscard

If you set issue_discards = 1 in your lvm.conf, you can skip the blkdiscard call as LVM will issue the TRIM on lvremove by itself.

  • 1
    Thanks! I have remarked this as the answer because it's working for me, even though Michael's answer is also valid. Also I will add what I said in the question comments: If you don't have blkdiscard available; you can grab util-linux source from github.com/karelzak/util-linux/tree/stable/v2.23 then build blkdiscard (run ./autogen.sh ; ./configure ; make blkdiscard) -- it built cleanly (although you may have to install some dependencies and tweak configure options) and as long as you don't install it, it does not conflict with existing util-linux. – Jason C Oct 31 '13 at 21:34
  • 1
    I was observing failures with certain values passed to blkdiscard as well, but noticed the values were based on the offset, not the length. It's possible there is an issue in blkdiscard, I am in the process of investigating. See unix.stackexchange.com/questions/98473/… – Jason C Nov 1 '13 at 22:49
  • I have created a script that does discard free space on all mounted file systems as well as free LVM VGs: github.com/stefanct/discard-everything – stefanct Jan 10 '14 at 15:37
7

hdparm --trim-sector-ranges can trim a range. The man page warns to use it, so you better be sure you got the right range and syntax.

I think sending a trim for all data outside a partition would be dangerous, as there is some hidden data there sometimes like bootloader code or second partition tables. You'd need to know exaclty, which areas outside of partitions are really unused.

  • Perfect, thanks! I can grab the device size with hdparm, unused ranges from sfdisk, and trim accordingly. I know what's on the drive. If there is a partioning scheme that hides data in accessible but unallocated areas, that would break any partition editor's basic functionality. I presume (hope) that any schemes like this have long been abandoned (I know of none off the top of my head though). All schemes I know of store the MBR in well-known unallocated space at the start of the device, and VBRs/EBRs within allocated partitions. There may be old obscure schemes that are different. :) – Jason C Oct 22 '13 at 20:18
  • I am having some difficulty with hdparm, I edited my question with details; wondering if you have any insight. – Jason C Oct 22 '13 at 20:35
  • 1
    Seems like at least some of hdparm doesn't work on /dev/mmcblk0. Sorry, I have no further idea. – Michael Suelmann Oct 22 '13 at 21:03

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