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Thread: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    Did the developers of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS decide not to provide any support for floppy drives?

    (I've spent half a day looking for help on the forums, and tried lots of suggestions
    including from "closed" threads, and I'm getting nowhere.
    I need to recover some old files archived on floppies, and I have kept
    precisely one floppy drive (-- plugs into my old Dell Latitude D610 as an
    alternative to the CD drive) so that I could get at such files when I needed
    to. I removed the M/S O/S last year and installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
    So now I need to know whether Ubuntu is going to let me at the
    files, or whether I need to go looking for someone who can let me at
    a networked machine running that other O/S that has or can take a
    floppy drive. I don't suppose I'm the only person in the world who
    needs Ubuntu to do this for me.

    The situation is that when I insert a DOS-formatted floppy, the LED
    comes on, the thing whirrs a little, and nothing else appears.
    The terminal command

    nautilus computer://

    pops up a window that shows two objects:
    floppy drive
    file system

    Right-click and Properties on floppy drive shows
    everything is unknown, except Location is given as
    Computer:///

    Straightforward
    mount /dev/floppy
    fails because there is no entry in /etc/fstab


    The command
    udisks --mount /dev/fd0
    gives
    cannot stat /dev/fd0 .... no such file or directory

    In fact, there is no file /dev/fd0. There is a directory /dev/fd with
    4 files called 0,1,2,3. Replacing fd0 by any of fd, fd/0, etc
    in the above udisks command gives:
    device file dev/fd is not a block device -- resource temporarily unavailable.

    One person has suggested a solution that seems to involve
    uninstalling udisks and reinstalling some old version. Their instructions
    don't make sense in the interface that came with 12.04. They
    seem to be referring to some other window manager.
    The other issue with this is that I don't know what I will break
    if I unistall udisks.

    I'll spare you the rest of my thrashing about.
    What I would appreciate knowing is whether I am wasting my time.
    If the Ubuntu community is not planning to support floppies,
    then OK, I'll take the problem elsewhere. I'd just like to
    know. If the support is there, perhaps someone could point me
    to the right thread. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    2,601
    Distro
    Ubuntu

    Re: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    Perhaps "mount" support was removed. Youo can still access the contents of the floppies without mounting them using the venerable mtools, that allow you to access the contents of floppies with ms-dos like commands.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Arizona U.S.A.
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    2,898

    Re: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    You didn't say what size floppies, but I have a USB 3.5" floppy drive that is works fine with Ubuntu. Made by TEAC. If it's important that you read these disks, you might look into this type. Inexpensive as well.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2012
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    34

    Re: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    Quote Originally Posted by vanadium View Post
    Perhaps "mount" support was removed. Youo can still access the contents of the floppies without mounting them using the venerable mtools, that allow you to access the contents of floppies with ms-dos like commands.
    Many thanks for this info. I had a look at mtools. Tried
    mdir a:
    It said
    Can't open /dev/fd0. No such file or directory.
    Can't initialize A:

    How should I proceed?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Beans
    34

    Re: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    Thanks, Dennis N.
    3.5 in floppies, indeed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    34

    Re: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldNovice View Post
    Many thanks for this info. I had a look at mtools. Tried
    mdir a:
    It said
    Can't open /dev/fd0. No such file or directory.
    Can't initialize A:

    How should I proceed?
    Am I right in thinking that in order to access a device, I've
    got to have a device handle in the file system? The way I read what
    mtools is up to is that it when I command
    mdir A:
    it looks at
    /etc/mtools.conf or ~/.mtoolsrc
    to see how drive A: is specified, and uses that info.
    The spec MUST have a clause
    file="some filename"
    which says where the device handle sits in the filesystem,
    and MAY have other data, such as the device geometry

    The default /etc/mtools.conf
    specifies
    drive A: file="/dev/fd0"
    so I get nowhere with that, since my system has
    no such file.

    I copied /etc/mtools.conf to $HOME/.mtoolsrc
    and fiddled with it, trying out various handles
    like "/dev/fd/0", etc along with various geometries
    appropriate to 3.5" floppies that are described in
    the man pages, without success.

    Then I thought, OK, when I plug in the CD drive
    this system handles it, so maybe I'll try the
    handle for that, and give it the floppy geometry!
    But, Lo, I could not find anything in /dev that seemed
    to correspond to the CD drive.
    Eventually, by plugging it out and in again, it became clear
    that /dev/sg0 and /dev/sg1 were character device handles
    (which Ubuntu creates on the fly, apparently, when
    it detects a suitable device. I could not determine
    block device handles.
    Then I tried configuring those handles with floppy geometries,
    without success.

    All pointless, I suspect.
    The Official Ubuntu Documentation page at
    https://help.ubuntu.com/12.04/instal...uxdevices.html
    has a clear and simple explanation of the setup
    for device files, and how it is supposed to work.
    But it does not appear to have been executed by the developers.
    The very first entries are for the floppy drives, and it seems
    the drivers are just not there in the kernel, end of story.

    I'll wait a little for feedback, but it seems we should close
    this one as a lost cause.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    2,601
    Distro
    Ubuntu

    Re: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    Some operations do not require you to mount the floppy. See http://linux.about.com/od/lts_guide/a/gdelts59.htm for some usage info.
    You may need to setup your floppy drive correctly. See here: http://h30097.www3.hp.com/docs/base_...1/0304____.HTM
    Unfortunatelly, I cannot be of more specific help because I do not have experience with the tool, and I have no floppy drives anymore.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Beans
    34

    Thumbs up Re: Floppy drive support in 12.04?

    Quote Originally Posted by vanadium View Post
    Some operations do not require you to mount the floppy. See http://linux.about.com/od/lts_guide/a/gdelts59.htm for some usage info.
    You may need to setup your floppy drive correctly. See here: http://h30097.www3.hp.com/docs/base_...1/0304____.HTM
    Unfortunatelly, I cannot be of more specific help because I do not have experience with the tool, and I have no floppy drives anymore.
    Good man, vanadium! It works!

    Having determined that the drive corresponds to the device file /dev/sdb on my system,
    I cd'd to /dev and issued the terminal command

    sudo /sbin/MAKEDEV -v sdb

    and then put the lines:

    drive a:
    file="/dev/sdb"
    filter
    exclusive

    in my ~/.mtoolsrc, instead of the default version for drive a:

    I could then view the files on a floppy and copy them, using

    sudo mdir
    and
    sudo mcopy

    Many thanks. Problem solved.

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