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Splitting archives across floppies

(Netiquette note: when you're responding to a digest, it's a good idea
to change the subject back to something useful).

Parameshwara Bhat wrote:
> Yes,that does work.But what I was looking for was not just meeting an 
> actual need.But a technological question as to why Linux can't do it or 
> doesn't do it or hasn't thought fo doing it ? What you suggest is a two 
> way work .But Winzip has been spanning floppies for many years and it 
> appears so simple a task in Windows.Why this feature not in Linux ? I 
> guess because of it's clumsy mount and unmount ?

It's more a philosophical point.

In old-school Unix, the philosophy was to provide pipelines where other
OSes might have provided options in the programs. A sysadmin might have
unhesitatingly recommended [1]:
tar cf - file* | compress | split -b1440000 - out.Z.
and rationalised that now you knew how to compress and split the output
of any program. It's slightly more complicated, but much more flexible.
So you aren't limited to what your application programmer thought to
put into a program.

In old-school Unix, if necessary, one would write a script to
automate that and the copying of the files onto floppies. But any
sysadmin worthy of the name should be able to knock that up in ten
minutes: it's not something that would be provided with the OS, and
it's simpler to write it yourself than to go looking for one, even now.
And the sysadmin would expect to customize it for the site's

In the world of GNOME and KDE, of course the philosophy is to provide
user-friendly front ends for the common things. And if this was a common
thing, these days, I'm sure it would be provided in something like

But, honestly, floppies have never been common on Unix-like systems.
On multi-user systems, only the sysadmin might expect to get near the
floppy drive. All such systems should have tape drives or network access
to them, and the increased capacity and reliability of tape over floppy
made it the removable media of choice, especially for more data than
would fit on a single floppy.

There was a time, I suppose, when low cost Linux PCs might have used
floppies more, but the advent of USB sticks, CD-R/W and ubiquitous
Internet access mean that many PCs neither have nor need a floppy drive.
Apart for booting purposes, it's been years since I last used a floppy,
and eight years since I needed to span zip files across floppies.

So, really, no-one's done it because no-one's really seen that the need
is worth the work. I don't think it's due to mount / umount: a program
can call those automatically.


[1] This is old-school, remember. The command line won't work on Fedora
(no compress).
E-mail address: james@ | "We already have a device for finding old coins of
westexe.demon.co.uk    | low value - it's called a collection plate..."
                       | -- Caption to a Church Times cartoon

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