Ubuntu: format USB disks [Guide]

Do you have a USB device like a flash drive or USB hard drive that you need to format on your Ubuntu PC? Can’t figure out how to go about it? We can help! Follow along as we show you how to format a USB device on Ubuntu!

Before we begin

In this guide, we will format a USB device on Ubuntu in various ways. However, Ubuntu isn’t the only operating system that these instructions work on. If you use Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Zorin OS, Peppermint, or another Ubuntu-based operating system, this guide will work for you as well.

So, if you’re using an Ubuntu-based operating system and are trying to figure out how to format a USB device, don’t worry! You’ll be able to follow along with this guide just fine!

Ubuntu format USB – Gparted

A straightforward way to format a USB device on Ubuntu is via the Gparted partitioning application. It’s a very easy to use program that allows you to visually view all attached storage devices so that you can modify, format, and edit file systems, including ones connected via USB.

Install Gparted

As great and as easy as Gparted makes formatting USB devices, it is not pre-installed on Ubuntu. So, we must demonstrate how to install the app on Ubuntu. 

Software Center

If you’re not a fan of the command-line and want to get Gparted set up on your Ubuntu operating system, you can do it through the Ubuntu Software Center. To start the process, open up “Ubuntu Software.”

Once the app is open, find the search button and click on it with the mouse. Then, type out “Gparted” in the search box. After typing out Gparted, it’ll show up in the search results. Select it with the mouse.

After selecting “Gparted” in the search results, it’ll load up in Ubuntu Software Center. From here, find the “Install” button, and click on it with the mouse. Then, enter your password and allow Ubuntu to install Gparted.

Once installed, you can launch Gparted directly by clicking “Launch” in Ubuntu Software Center.


If you’re a terminal fan, you can quickly get Gparted installed on Ubuntu with the following command below in a terminal window.

sudo apt install gparted

Ubuntu: Format USB with Gparted

After installing the Gparted application on your Ubuntu PC, plug in the USB device you wish to format and launch the Gparted app. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Inside of Gparted, look to the screen’s top-right section for the filesystem menu. In this menu, look for your USB device, and select it with the mouse. We’ll be using a Sandisk USB Flash drive about 14.59 GB in size in this example.

Can’t find your USB device? Remember its size in Megabytes and match it up to the right choice in the filesystem menu.

Step 2: After selecting the USB device in the filesystem menu, Gparted will show you the device’s partition layout. In this example, our USB device has one large NTFS filesystem.

From here, right-click on the filesystem with the mouse. Then, choose the “Format to” option.

Step 3: Once you’ve selected the “Format to” option in the menu, you will see many different filesystem choices. Pick the one you wish to format your USB flash drive to. On Linux, the best option is “ext4”!

Step 4: Locate the checkmark button in the top-left section of Gparted, and click on it to start the formatting process. When the process is complete, close Gparted.

Ubuntu format USB – Gnome Disks

If Gparted is a bit too complicated for you, another way to format USB devices on Ubuntu is with Gnome Disks. It’s pre-installed on the Gnome version of Ubuntu and is easy to install on other flavors.

If you’re using a Ubuntu version that does not have Gnome Disks pre-installed, you will need to install it before continuing. To install it, open up a terminal window on the Ubuntu desktop by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T. After that, execute the apt install command below.

sudo apt install gnome-disk-utility

Once the Gnome Disks app is installed, open it up on the Ubuntu desktop by searching for it in the app menu. Then, plug in your USB device. In this example, we’ll use a Sandisk USB Flash drive about 14.59 GB in size.

Inside Gnome Disks, look to the sidebar on the left for your USB device, and click on it to access it. After clicking on the device, find the menu in the top-right corner (next to minimize) and click on it. Then, select the “format disk” option.

After selecting the “format disk” option, a menu will appear. Set it to (Quick). Then, click on the “Format” button to format the USB device. Keep in mind that the format may take a couple of seconds to finish.

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8 Best Social Media Alternatives to Facebook and Twitter

Social media was already a thing (remember Myspace?) before mainstream juggernauts like Facebook and Twitter took over the industry. These days it can feel like you can either use these services or nothing else. However, there are many competing sites that might offer more of what you want or, at least, less of what you don’t want. 

Regardless of what your specific complaints are when it comes to the social media market leaders, you always have a social media alternative to turn to.


Mastodon is an Open Source, decentralized alternative to the Twitter microblogging service. It looks and works a lot like Twitter, so current Twitter users shouldn’t have too hard a time adjusting. Instead of Tweets, you send “toots” which can be up to 500 characters in length.

Under the hood however, Mastodon works very differently from Twitter. Instead of being a traditional hosted web service, Mastodon is spread out over a “federated” network. 

Different Mastodon instances are home to different types of content or different communities. Each has its own rules and policies, but they work together and share data with no issue. Instances can block each other or specific content from other instances, but users can interact with each other across instances without any issues. 

Its federated network design makes it hard if not impossible to shut Mastodon down and so it’s become a home for a diverse and often fringe set of subcultures.


Major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are businesses aimed at making profit. Which is one of the reasons they use collected user data to offer more effective advertising to other businesses.

Diaspora* is a non-profit social media platform that’s owned and operated by users. The system is broken up into “pods” that are independently run and owned. Much like Mastodon’s instances, these pods are networked together. Even the initial development of Diaspora* came from crowd-sourcing.

By its very design, Diaspora* can’t be monetized or used to sell advertising. There’s no incentive to collect personal information at all, not to mention that it’s extremely resistant  to attempts to shut it down. The entire system is built around the principles of  decentralization, freedom and privacy. Something that’s built into the DNA of Mastodon’s code.


Ello started out as a straightforward alternative to Facebook. The main difference was largely that Ello is ad-free and therefore would not collect or sell user information to advertisers. Since then, it’s become a little less like Facebook and more like visually-focused sites such as Pinterest, Deviant Art or Instagram.

Ello has been embraced by artists to such an extent that the site now bills itself as “The Creators Network”. You’ll find a large collection of top artists showcasing their work, as well as many opportunities for up and coming artists to engage with briefs and show off their portfolios.

Ello is notable for its no-ads policy and no enforcement of real names. User data isn’t sold to third-parties either. Which makes it a compelling alternative to the Facebook-owned Instagram, with some aspects of Facebook thrown in for good measure.

The Dots

The Dots is actually more of an alternative to the likes of LinkedIn, but plenty of people use platforms like Facebook or Twitter to build a less formal professional network, so The Dots is still something we need to include in the conversation.

The “professional network for people who don’t wear suits” is pretty much the best description of The Dots you could have. Their copywriter has certainly earned a bonus! 

The Dots plays host to professional people from some of the hottest startups as well as big established brands. It’s a place where companies go to hire talent, but it’s also a good place to find other people who can help you, give advice or even collaborate on projects. It’s easy to set up a detailed profile so that people can see who you’ve worked with, what you’ve done and what sort of work you’re looking to do.


Many people who use Facebook are only really looking to connect to people who are close by, such as those who live in the same neighbourhood. It’s why people set up private Facebook groups for their homeowners associations and schools.

If that’s your primary reason for using social media, you may want to consider NextDoor. This is a social media platform designed specifically to let people who live in the same neighborhood communicate socially without being exposed to a larger social group.You’ll also get access to local resources, such as businesses in your area and nonprofit organizations and programs.

NextDoor requires that every user verify their name and address, but that information isn’t shared with anyone. That ensures the people you get to interact with are really a part of the local community. So you’ll know about events and problems in your own neighbourhood without having to worry about random strangers butting in.


Referred to as the “anti-Facebook” by Wired magazine, Minds has a unique business model where you can actually earn either tokens or real money for your activity on the site.

It’s a mix of different social media elements. You can publish blog posts, videos, pictures and statuses. There are feeds of trending topics and it has secure group chat as well.

If you create content, you can get paid in US Dollars and cryptocurrency by your fans. So it’s almost a mix of Facebook and the various platforms such as YouTube and Patreon.

Minds uses completely open source code, which means that you can look through their algorithms to know exactly how they work. Their content policy is very open and makes uses of a community jury to determine if something is unsuitable. It’s a platform with strong free speech underpinnings, so be prepared for robust opinions, depending on where you venture.

Signal & Telegram

We’ve grouped these two social media alternatives together because they are both alternatives to Facebook Messenger and similar apps like Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook.

Both Signal and Telegram offer a more privacy-focused service. Although all of these services make use of encryption to protect your messages from prying eyes, Signal and Telegram go the extra mile.

Of the two, Signal is the most strict in terms of privacy. It takes a hard line against storing metadata on its servers and it doesn’t store or share information such as when you were last active. Signal also stores no info about its users at all, but of course that does mean it ends up being a little less convenient to use than Telegram.

We actually recommend that people use both Telegram and Signal. Telegram is great as a more private general-purpose messenger app with fun social features, while Signal is perfect for when you need to communicate with the highest level of privacy and security.

Social Media on Your Own Terms

Different social media platforms have different ways of conducting their business. They have their own policies, outlooks and company structures. Some want to make a profit, others want to build communities. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about any of these choices, but what’s important that you have choices. 

It’s never great for any one service or product to have a total monopoly and these social media alternatives let you decide about which sacrifices you’d like to make.

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How to find Linux directory size

Are you trying to find the size of a directory on your Linux PC but can’t figure out how to do it? We can help! Follow along in this guide as we go over exactly how you can find a Linux directory’s size!

Find Linux directory size – du command

The fastest way to find a directory’s size on the Linux desktop is with the terminal-based application called Du. Du can tell the user how big or small any given directory or file is, and you can even save the size output to a file for later! Here’s how to use Du.

First, open up a terminal window on the Linux desktop. There are many ways to open up a terminal. On most desktops, the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + T should launch it. 

With the terminal window open and ready to go, enter the du command alongside the directory you wish to find the exact size of. In this example, we’ll use the home (~) folder.

Note: be sure to customize the command below to the directory you wish to scan.

du ~/

After executing the above du ~/ command, you’ll see a command-line readout telling you exactly how large the ~/ (home) folder is, as well as every subfolder’s size. Scroll through this long list of files to learn how big each directory is. The home directory is at the very bottom of the list.

You may have noticed that the command-line output for du is in bits, while useful, isn’t exactly easy to understand for the average user. If you’d like an easier time reading the output, run du with the -h command-line switch. It’ll print everything in Kilobyte/Megabyte/Gigabyte, etc.

du -h ~/

Want to save your du command-line readout to a text file for storage purposes? Pipe it to a text file with the following command in the terminal.

du -h ~/ > ~/my-du-readout.txt

Find Linux directory size – NCDU tool

If you’re trying to find Linux directory sizes but want a more comfortable to use a terminal program, NCDU is the way to go. NCDU is a text-based disk usage analyzer, and it can easily be used to find Linux directory sizes.

To start, you must install the NCDU app on your Linux PC. To do that, launch a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T on the keyboard (or search for it in the app menu). Then, install it using the instructions down below that corresponds with your Linux OS.


sudo apt install ncdu


sudo apt-get install ncdu

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S ncdu


sudo dnf install ncdu


sudo zypper install ncdu

Once the NCDU app is installed, use the following command to launch a scan against a directory to check the size of the subfolders inside. In this example, we will be scanning the home directory (~), so NCDU will tell us how big every subfolder contained in home (~)  is.

Note: be sure to change the directory in the command below to suit your needs.

ncdu ~/

NCDU should run for a couple of seconds (or minutes if you have a slow PC). When it is complete, you’ll see a descending list with the largest folders being on top, denoted by directory size.

Find Linux directory size – Tree app

If DU and NCDU don’t do it for you, Tree is another app that you can use on Linux to view directory sizes. To start, you must install the app. You must install Tree because it is not a default app on any mainstream Linux OS. 

To install Tree, start by launching a terminal window on the desktop. Once the terminal window is open, follow the command-line installation instructions outlined below that corresponds with the OS you currently use.


sudo apt install tree


sudo apt-get install tree

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S tree


sudo dnf install tree


sudo zypper install tree

With the app open, it is time to use it to find directory file sizes. Using the tree command, scan a directory. It’ll tell you the folder sizes of the scanned directory, as well as all subfolders.

Note: be sure to change the command below to suit your needs!

tree -d -h ~/ 

By executing the command above, you’ll see a tree structure of the folder you scanned, along with each subfolder inside of it, and their subfolders, etc. It’ll also show the size of each directory next to the name of each folder.

Want to make the tree command-line output more readable? Consider executing it with the less command. It’ll make the entire tree output scrollable with the mouse.

tree -d -h ~/ | less

Do you want to save your tree command-line output to a text file for later? Pipe it to a text file using the command below! 

tree -d -h ~/ > ~/my-tree-output.txt

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How to Send Private Emails in Gmail

If you ever need to send an email containing sensitive information, you can use independent private email services to do it, or learn how to do it in Gmail instead. 

Gmail comes with a special confidential mode that allows you to send emails that disappear after a certain amount of time. If you’re a privacy-centric user, you’ll also love this mode for how it makes it impossible for the recipient to forward, copy, print, or download the contents of your private email.

Here’s everything you need to know about Gmail’s confidential mode and how to use it to send private emails in Gmail. 

What’s Gmail’s Confidential Mode?

Gmail’s confidential mode allows you to send confidential or private emails to other Gmail users, as well as people that use other email clients like Outlook, Yahoo, or iCloud. 

When you send an email in confidential mode, you can manually set an expiry date for it – the date when the email will disappear from the recipient’s Gmail account. This is a feature that’s handy if you’re sending someone the “burn after reading” type of information and don’t want it lying around inside their inbox. You can set your email to expire as soon as in 1 day or leave it for up to 5 years. 

Another advantage of using Gmail’s confidential mode is the ability to set an SMS passcode required for reading your email. That means that no one can read the contents of your message without the text that contains the passcode required to open it. 

How to Use Confidential Mode in Gmail

Using Gmail’s confidential mode to send private emails is pretty easy. You can do it both on your desktop and your smartphone. 

How to Send Private Emails in Gmail

To send private emails on your computer using confidential mode in Gmail, follow the steps below.

  1. Open Gmail and log into your account.
  1. In the upper-left corner of the screen, select Compose.
  1. At the bottom of the New Message window, find an option to Turn confidential mode on/off and select it. 
  1. In the confidential mode window, set the expiry date and whether you want to require an SMS passcode for reading your email (this will add extra security). 
  1. Select Save
  2. If you choose to set a passcode, Gmail will also ask you to confirm your and recipient’s phone numbers before sending your email. Enter your phone number and select Send to proceed. 

You can then continue composing your email and select Send when it’s ready. 

How to Send Private Emails in Gmail Mobile App

If you prefer sending your emails while on the move, you can use Gmail mobile app instead of your desktop to quickly compose and send a confidential email. To send a private email in Gmail mobile app, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Gmail app on your smartphone and log into your account.
  2. At the bottom-right corner of your screen, select Compose

*compose email_gmail app*

  1. Inside the Compose window, select More (the three horizontal dots in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  1. Select Confidential mode
  1. In the confidential mode window, set the expiry date and whether you want to require an SMS passcode for reading your email (this will add extra security). 
  1. Select Save

Write up your email and select Send when it’s finished. 

How to Open a Confidential Email

Thanks to the confidential mode feature, you can send private emails not just to any Gmail user, but also to people who use different email providers. If you’re using Gmail to open a confidential email, you can do it the same way you open your normal emails using your desktop or your smartphone. If the sender requested an SMS passcode, you’ll receive a text message and will need to type the code in Gmail before you can open the email.

If you use a different email provider, open the confidential email and follow the link inside it to request a passcode. You’ll receive a text message and will then be required to enter the code to view the email’s contents. 

Before You Send Any Sensitive Data Over Email

It’s generally not recommended to send any sensitive data over the internet as you can’t be sure anything is 100% secure online. Even though Gmail’s confidential mode prevents the receiver from forwarding or printing out your email, they can still take a picture or a screenshot of it and find ways to save and share it with other users later.

To prevent your own data being used against you, learn how to encrypt all your online and offline data, as well as other ways to send secure encrypted emails for free. However, sometimes the best practice is to try and avoid sending any private or sensitive information over the internet. 

Have you ever sent an email containing private information before? Did you use Gmail’s confidential mode or some other method to do it? Share your experience with email privacy in the comments section below.