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May 17, 2013 — BarryK
Woof has /usr/sbin/, a script for formatting 3.5 inch floppy disks.
Very old code, it was written back in 2004.

On the Forum, robwoj44 has internationalized Floppy_Formatter, written originally by Forum member 8-bit. I don't recall if 8-bit had input to the floppy formatter in Woof.

Anyway, I have improved the code and internationalized the one in Woof.

Woof commit:

Testing it in Precise pup on one of my old PCs, it is broken. Busybox 'fdformat' formats a floppy, then fails the "verify" stage. Then 'mkfs.msdos' fails with a report of "bad blocks".
I could only find two old floppy disks -- probably about 15 years old, and the surfaces may be oxidised.


two old floppy disks -- probably about 15 years old, and the surfaces may be oxidised.
Username: Sage
??? oxidised??? Don't they use ferrous metal oxides??? Depends on storage. I have a 'reference' floppy disc dating fro, the late 80's. It is a 720 disc converted to 1.44 with an ordinary drill from my tool chest. I didn't believe the garbage emanating from the industry at that time. It didn't make sense to use two different mass production lines with two different coatings. It wasn't - sensible, that is! My reference specimen is kept dry and dark in my desk. I run it about once a year. Perfect! Never a lost byte, nor bit, or even bite. These things last longer than CD/DVDs and a lot, lot longer than HDs, not to mention the ubiquitous USB sticks and SD cards! Get an LS120 before they completely disappear; 120Mb is an huge amount of basic data - e.g. can store ~100years worth of company accounts on a single disc, perhaps ditto years of letters to the Revenue along with a (compressed) file of Inbox & Sent emails for several decades. Not sure what you'll use the other 120Mb disc for. Give you ONE guess where the pressure for phasing out floppies came/comes from...

Floppy Handling
Username: K Godt
"Floppy handling is somewhat difficult. guess_fstype and others blkid,disktype only work for me if the Floppy has no physically writeprotection tab set. Had bought once TDK ones surprisingly offered by a supermarket, and could throw away two of them using them first time . After very few usages, they all became corrupted. Threw them away. Suspected that the DISKDRIVES itself may physically have damaged the surfaces and also threw them away. Bought 2 FDDs for 8 each for experiments some few weeks ago and Verbatim Floppies from a pc merchant, because I suspected that the magnetic treatment in supermarkets might have damaged them, too. Will have to modify Floppy_Formatter to offer ext2. Otherwise, the machines I use regularly, have no FloppyDiskDives anymore.

1000yr DVD
Username: Ted Dog
"If you care to add a bit more coin to the media for long term storage (1000yrs) of data, you can get a M-DISC dvd to burn (in LQ bluray burner). Its great that a floppy lasted longer than the equipment to read it, but no computer I have still came with a floppy drive. And I haven't seen the media for sale for years and years. On the other hand CD players still exist and newer format optical drive have been able to read them for 30 yrs. Not that I could afford CD's when they first came out.

Lifetimes of media
Username: Sage
"It's not the coatings that are the problem - they are inorganic and stable for millennia. To preserve the magnetic information, it should, ideally, be stored inside a magnetic 'bottle', or at best, parallel to the lines of force in your neighbourhood. With FDDs, the organic base is completely covered with the metallic oxide suspension. On the other hand, the organic base of CD/DVD/BDVD is wholly exposed to the atmosphere. Organics of all sorts degrade in contact with oxygen, h-nu, uv and most other things, viz other 'rays' and 'substances including acids, alkalis, vapours, you-name-it. Flash devices have their own issues.

Username: scsijon
"the biggest bugbear with floppys was actually static electricity, which cause micro sized magnetic storms on the discs surface. When I was traveling for work and needed to take some I had a 5 disc-box that had a faraday cage built into it's plastic as well as the outer surface being 'flashed' for additional protection. Suitable warnings were on the surface so the various 'officials' wouldn't open under the wrong conditions or xray it. I still have floppy drives on most of my boxes, however I have replaced a few with things like speaker and card modules.

'static electricity'
Username: Sage
"Rarely affects FDDs. Mine used to go through customs gate without problems. Make sure you wear the right shoes! In this case, that's no shoes, preferably with no socks or wool socks and definitely no nylon carpets at home or office or you'll become a portable Wimshurst machine; good for Higgs particle searching, though. Until the latest round, many boards had unused FDD pins. Another advantage of LS120 - they run under IDE, so even the newest board can use them by popping in a PCI card. That's useful for running old IDE HDs, too. Apart from barely available SATA3, IDE-133 is about as fast as it gets, despite the BS theory advocated by the industry. Roll on cheap SSD - makes compact distros so much more sensible, if not essential.

Tags: woof