linux and floppy drive

Tony Baechler tony at
Fri Oct 5 09:06:24 UTC 2012

You know, it's a lot easier to help you if you list the actual commands you 
entered and their output.  See my response inline below.

On 10/5/2012 1:00 AM, Jude DaShiell wrote:
> I have a floppy drive debian and arch will not use.  It works well enough
> when I put an unformatted disk in it and boot the computer the boot
> process is stopped and remains so until that floppy disk gets removed.

That doesn't mean anything except that your BIOS is set to boot the floppy 
first.  It could just as easily boot the CD first in which case your 
unformatted disk would make no difference.

> It's one of the 3.5 inch floppy disks and I noticed several different
> possible formats for it in /etc/mediaprm when I checked that file.  Even
> new floppy disks with no low level formatting on them will not low level
> format and forget about any other access operations.  Unless I'm
> overlooking something, there doesn't appear to be any command line tool to
> do a floppy probe operation and write an appropriate configuration file or
> update /etc/fstab.  kde has kde-floppy but kde hasn't got accessibility to
> the same extent command line users with speakup have or emacspeak or gnome
> users have with orca.  I'll probably be able to move files off floppy
> disks if I can get the internal drive working or if that fails buy a usb
> floppy and try to get that working.

I've never heard of low-level formatting a floppy, but that doesn't mean it 
can't be done.  No, you don't want a USB floppy drive.  Apparently you can't 
access the USB floppy controller directly.  Do you have /dev/fd0?  What 
happens when you try to mount a floppy with something on it?  Do you have 
dosfstools installed?  What happens if you use mkfs.vfat or mkfs.ext2 on 
/dev/fd0 to format it?

 From doing a Debian package search, it looks like you want the fdutils 
package.  If that doesn't work, your internal drive might be bad.  You could 
try booting a DOS boot disk and see what happens.  Apparently there is a 
grub rescue package which has floppy boot images, so you could try that.  Do 
you have DOS or another OS on that machine and does your floppy work with 
the other OS?  It shouldn't matter, but what about booting from a live CD 
and attempting to access the floppy that way?  If you go with USB, look at 
the ufiformat package.

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