What does a filesystem really look like?

I have visualized different file systems.

I created a new partition on a second internal hard disk (SSD) with the respective file system, copied some example files to it and then interpreted the data of the partition with ffmpeg as RGB 24-bit and saved it as an picture file. I also tested other formats, but this one looked the best.

sudo ffmpeg -f rawvideo -pixel_format rgb24 -s 2560x1440 -i /dev/nvme0n1p2 -vframes 1 filesystem-picture-ext4.png

I also added the labels using a command line tool, namely imagemagic.

convert '/home/davidak/tmp/scrapyard/filesystem-picture-ext3.png' \
-gravity South \
-font "/nix/store/0s0lnjh2yy08lwglb5zhwnp9aaad0pic-open-sans-1.11/share/fonts/truetype/OpenSans-ExtraBold.ttf" \
-pointsize 100 \
-fill white \
-box black \
-annotate +0+60 " Third Extended Filesystem (ext3) " \

I got the idea for this project back in 2021 from a post by Jamie where she had a similar result by forwarding the partition data to /dev/fb0.

You can open the images in a new tab/window to see them full resolution.


Visualization of File Allocation Table (FAT32) file system


Visualization of New Technology File System (NTFS)


Visualization of Second Extended Filesystem (ext2)


Visualization of Third Extended Filesystem (ext3)


Visualization of Fourth Extended Filesystem (ext4)


Visualization of X File System (XFS)


Visualization of Zettabyte File System (ZFS)


Visualization of B-tree File System (Btrfs)


Visualization of Bcachefs

ISO 9660

Visualization of ISO 9660 (CD) file system

To visualize the file system of CDs I used the image ubuntu-8.04-desktop-i386.iso.

Unfortunately I don't have a working Mac at hand to do it with its file systems (HFS, HFS+ and APFS).

As always, the images are licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA license and can be used accordingly. I already have ideas.