[SOLVED] Linux and Floppy B drives?

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SyncroScales
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[SOLVED] Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by SyncroScales »

Hello,

How does Linux Mint or other types handle Floppy B disks, drives and hardware?

Some people asked me about getting data off of the old disks, there are some old computers. But nothing like a USB2 connector for a newer OS or hardware.

Thanks.
Last edited by SyncroScales on Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Pierre
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by Pierre »

that's something that I've always had issues with:
- some linux's are better than others, when recognising an floppy disk / drive ..

for me, I've got an older Laptop, that still works, and could use that,
or an old win_xp machine, did work as well.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by SyncroScales »

I thought about getting old hardware and putting a version of Linux on there, it probably has to be xfce or something similar because of the limits of the system.

If using Linux I am unsure if virtual machines with old versions of Windows or Mac OS will work?

Does 32-bit or 64-bit affect anything?

How about the old types of Floppy B drives? There were different sized, not just low, high and ultra densities with Floppy A being the same physical size. Does anyone know how to get the data from those old sizes old physical media? What systems do you use to get data or documents?

I have looked but cannot find anything about a USB2, USB3 or other type of plug that can be used with current systems. I have seen YouTube videos, but I think that is custom made.
Last edited by SyncroScales on Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by Pierre »

you can indeed use virtual machines with old versions of Windows or Mac OS & they will work.
- did that with win-98 last year 8) as always, it's the video that is the biggest hurdle, to overcome,
or you will get a reduced video screen. size :(
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by SyncroScales »

Pierre, will the Flobby B drives and disks work and be recognized? Where is the problem, the Linux OS, the virtual machine or the old system and how the hardware is connected or how the virtual machine runs the old OS in Linux?
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by Pierre »

the main issue is usually in the Host Linux System, as lot's of Linux Systems don't recognise an floppy drive / disk
& so the virtual machine may also not easily be recognise that drive.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by jglen490 »

If a Linux recognizes a floppy drive at all, it will be a USB connected floppy. I don't know of a 5 1/4" floppy drive, but there may be one. I have two 3 1/2" USB floppy drives. It does require the use of some software to drive the floppies. I have had luck at times, and not so much at others. I did get my old floppies from college stored on my Linux box a few years ago. I have not tried to re-read any in a while.

EDIT: Actually I take that back. I just tried it on my Kubuntu 18.04 desktop box with a USB floppy drive and one of those ancient floppies I had previously saved. I plugged the drive in and it immediately came to life and as soon as I popped in the floppy disk, it showed up in Dolphin (the Kubuntu file manager). And I was able to drag and drop between the floppy and my /home/<user> directory.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by Hoser Rob »

Found a program called fdmount for this, the ubuntu manpage only lists a tarball source:

http://manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/bio ... unt.1.html

That should be the 18.04 tab, which is what you'd want for Mint 19.

It may be easier if you can get hold of a USB floppy drive.

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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by AscLinux »

Don't confuse Mint with Linux. Linux is kernel and it has excellent floppy support, always had. The question is whether these features are enabled in Mint stock kernel.

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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by jglen490 »

I would say that Linux has always had floppy support, but sometimes it has been better than at other times. The implementation in various distros has not always been consistent.

Anyway, Newegg, Ebay, and Amazon all have USB floppy drives. Pick one, try it.

The label on the enclosure does not always mean anything. The USB floppy drive that I dug out of my desk drawer says "Sabrent" on the outside, but when plugged in the Linux kernel says it's a "TEAC" - which is actually a good thing. TEAC has always had good hardware and is typically well supported, as far as I know.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by AscLinux »

I run Mint in a virtual machine. I added two [virtual] floppy drives and booted Mint. Sure enough, there were two new device nodes, /dev/fd0 and /dev/fd1. Owned by root:disk, meaning these are not accessible without elevated rights. So to use floppy disks you need to be root or you need to master some udev rule which changes the ownership of floppy devices. (Allowing group disk to your user is not acceptable, it allows raw access to all disks and is serious security risk.)

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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by SyncroScales »

I am not finding Floppy B disk - USB connectors online.

Are they all custom made?

My Floppy A drive is recognized and can be used.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by Pierre »

what happens when you plug Floppy B disk into the usb port that Floppy A disk was in ?
& also reverse the Floppy B disk usb port ?

does that make any differences ?.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by SyncroScales »

Pieere - I do not have a Floppy B with USB connection. I have seen some setups online, but I cannot find where to buy them.

Floppy A is internal, not USB.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by rene »

SyncroScales wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:48 am
I do not have a Floppy B with USB connection. I have seen some setups online, but I cannot find where to buy them. Floppy A is internal, not USB.
For this discussion to make some sense, could you please first of all define what you find to be a "Floppy B" drive? A and B are/were just DOS designators for the first and second floppy drive respectively and do not imply different types. Are you with type A/B respectively referring to a 3.5/5.25 inch drive?

3.5: https://www.proshop.dk/Audio-kabel/TEAC ... 35/2169086
5.25: https://www.biocomp.net/o30780.htm

3.5" drives are readily available as USB; 5.25" drives are not, if they exist at all (outside of some specific hobbyest circles, no doubt). Up to about 2010 motherboards tended to come with a legacy floppy connector, and both 3.5" and 5.25" drives are supported by it: if you have a machine/board of the right vintage and borrow a drive (and its cable) from the people that want you to salvage files, it will be no problem. Linux supports legacy floppy drives and that includes Linux Mint 19. Given that the old legacy floppy is decidedly non plug 'n play, you need a manual sudo modprobe floppy but after that, /dev/fd0 and/or /dev/fd1 will be available to refer to first and second floppy drive respectively. Note; floppy cables usually support two drives: the connector AFTER the twist in the cable is normally the first drive.

Once installed, you use them as any other block device. I.e., sudo mount /dev/fd0 /mnt to mount a formatted floppy on /mnt and so on.

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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by SyncroScales »

rene - Yes it is a 5.25" drive (https://www.biocomp.net/o30780.htm) that I am asking about.

It seems that the Floppy A 3.5" cable is not the same as the one required for a 5.25" disk drive. I looked that up already. Unless there is a way to change that.

So it is possible for my motherboard to have a 5.25" cable connected where the 3.5" cable is connected? If I remember right, the plug is different. ASUS M3N78-VM.

Another question I have had is that there were even larger sized disks. Has Linux been able to handle those? Such as the 8" disk? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floppy_disk

Does low-high-ultra density of any type of disk create troubleshooting or problems in Linux?

Are there problems when you have a Master and Slave disk connected to the same cable? This seems more like a BIOS and hardware setup first. I was reading that some motherboards even with additional cards for multiple disk drives, still can only recognize 2. The manufacturers stopped supporting multiple disk drives after 2 were connected. Then the Software companies making OS's seemed to also stop supporting more than 2 disk drives.
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by rene »

SyncroScales wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:13 am
It seems that the Floppy A 3.5" cable is not the same as the one required for a 5.25" disk drive.
The cable (a 34-lead flat cable) is the same for both types; it's only the drive-sides connectors that are different between 3.5" and 5.25" drives. 3.5" drives use(d) a pin header connector, 5.25" drives a card edge connector; back before when 5.25" drives were definitively obsolete a standard floppy cable came with 5 connectors: 1 for motherboard/controller and both for the first and second drive both types of connector: http://www.pcguide.com/ref/fdd/confCable-c.html.

Floppy cables that include 5.25 drive connectors instead of or in addition to 3.5" drive connectors should still be relatively easy to find, but this is the reason I advised to also bring the cable from wherever you got a 5.25" drive. Yes, it'll fit your board. Power-wise, 5.25" drives use a (still) standard molex, 3.5" drives the, well, small 3.5" floppy drive power connector you're familiar with

5.25" drives on the PC came as either 360K or 1.2M; the Linux floppy driver will support whatever the drive does. 3.5" drives on the PC came as 360K (SD), 720K (DD) and 1.44M (HD); the 2.88M format (ED, I believe) your BIOS may refer to additionally is for all practical purposes non-existent. The Linux floppy driver in any case again supports whatever the drive does. 8" drives are not part of the PC history and I would be (somewhat) surprised if they used the very same protocol/controller as the later PC ones; would not expect the Linux floppy driver to support 8" drives; you're not going to find any of them anyway...

Master/slave is terminology from IDE, not floppy. Yes, two drives on a cable is fine and ties in with that "twist" bit that I mentioned: it's spelled out at the above link. While the cables look alike the technology is quite different; floppy cables have 34 leads, IDE 40 (or later 80, with a ground lead between signal leads so as to allow for higher speeds/less interference).

A BIOS will generally support only one floppy disk controller (FDC) hence two drives. Linux can support as many controllers as you'd care for, given that the controllers can themselves be jumpered to non-conflicting hardware addresses. Often they can not and the few that can are limited to two choices, making for a maximum of 2 controllers hence 4 drives in reality.

[EDIT] Just now looking at the current Linux floppy driver. Although I expect this is all somewhat theoretical rather than practical anyway, make sure to set the correct type in the BIOS when you do install floppy drive(s) since apparently even the Linux floppy driver bases itself on the there set type. Also, while "as many controllers as you'd care for" would've been the sensible model, seems the driver does limit itself to two controllers / four drives. As mentioned, that's all that would ever be required in reality anyway, so, oh well.

[EDIT] Seeing as how Google is likely to attract people looking for information on 8" floppy drives to this thread for some time to come:

Daves Old Computers - Connecting drives to PC: http://www.classiccmp.org/dunfield/img54306/cnct.htm

That is, although you'll need some physical soldering to make connections match up, appears the PC FDC is in fact capable of controlling an 8" drive, assuming you can find both a drive and a proper PSU in the first place. An earlier instance of myself would have found such fascinating. The current instance really still does but would deny it.

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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by SyncroScales »

Thanks for the reply rene.

I just want to be clear about the controllers and disk drives connected. One controller for a 3.5" or 5.25" disk drive can handle 2 disk drives connected? As you said and as some of the information I have read has said, 2 controllers and 2 disk drives for each, that is 4 disk drives for each motherboard and OS. Typically, unless the hardware supported some additional cards to add to the motherboard which allows more controllers and more disk drives for each controller recognized..??

Some people had 8" disk drives, but it seemed it was mostly for industry or commercial companies. I'll read more, but I have been asked about these and I told some individuals that I cannot try to move the data to a newer system that has document management or software that will recognize the formats. Has anyone reading this post purchased or used the 8" disks and disk drives? What for?

When 2 disk drives are connected on the same cable or on different cables, this is how to copy the information from one to the other. Can there be conflicts? Assuming Linux recognizes the Floppy B disk drives or Floppy A disk drives, there shouldn't be any problems, or much to setup and deal with?
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Re: Linux and Floppy B drives?

Post by rene »

Your first and third paragraph were already answered above; the answer to your second is "no".

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