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It's 2021 And The Linux Kernel's Floppy Driver Is Still Seeing The Occasional Patch

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  • #11
    Originally posted by ALRBP View Post
    Floppy is a strange thing. Windows 10 does not support them but the drives letters "A" and "B" are still reserved for them and when I want to save something on most software (some have changed but not most) I still click on a floppy (even on my smartphone, a technology popularized after floppy became obsolete). It's like the ghost of floppy was still in every computer, years after floppy's death.

    I am probably one of the youngest people who know what a floppy is and actually used them in "production" (not professional use, I was too young). I still have old floppies somewhere in a box, but I wonder what does that strange floppy symbol means for younger people who never used floppy. Everyone knows it's the "save" symbol but for people who may never have seen a real floppy in their lives, the feeling must be different.
    Still use them regularly, So I can tell you a bit of interesting trivia:
    -While, as expected a floppy drive under Linux is still seen as "fd0", USB drives are known as SDB, SDC... Like most standard USB sticks. However, it doesn't seem to display the partitions (pe sdb1,sdb2,etc), even when you put a formatted disk. It doesn't seem to recognise the ID's of the drives either, so no use to put them in fstab
    -Windows 10 doesn't have any way to have old style of floppy drives, (I don't know of any system with IDE that could support Win10), but if you put any USB floppy drive, it'll also straight on get assigned letter A: and has its own icon. I don't have a second drive to check if it gets assigned B: , sadly

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    • #12
      Originally posted by cl333r View Post
      Same for the "alarm clock" symbol.

      Got one of those in Amazon. Wind up too. Love it, but when my girl moved with me I had to put it into store as she couldn't stand the loud noise it makes. I think it is shooting for me as I had one of those as a baby, so maybe sort of subconsciously puts me in a happier place. Still use it when she goes out for a couple of days, but that is very rare.

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      • #13
        Originally posted by f0rmat View Post
        I still have the floppy that has my copy of my Master's Thesis on it - written using TeX. I also have another with the old Macintosh games Poon and SimCity and Tetris. I guess I need to dig out my old Toshiba external floppy drive (USB 1.1) and move all of that stuff to more modern hardware.
        My dad has still his Diploma Thesis on an old 8" Floppy ...but I doubt that it is corruption free.

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        • #14
          I used a USB 3.5" floppy drive (so different driver) last week, when I helped recover some old documents from the 90s for a relative. They were Mac floppies, not a problem with Linux of course. However, I didn't find a way to convert MacWrite to a modern format. Maybe it would be possible to go via ClarisWorks or AppleWorks to RTF? I do have an old first gen iBook with Mac OS 9 lying around. However it was easy enough to just extract the text by opening the files in a text editor (formatting was lost of course) so in the end I didn't bother trying to convert it properly.

          Even though the USB floppy drive uses a different driver, it is good to see that the traditional driver is also getting some love.

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          • #15
            Still cant do that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NYbd5AcwPY

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            • #16
              Originally posted by klapaucius View Post
              My first floppy disk drive was this one, and its disks where really floppy. It was also way faster and reliable that the datasette.
              Loved them, we had them in my elementary school's IT lab, so I'd say late 80s/early 90s. Commodore 64 was my first approach to IT.
              Nothing's as satisfying as locking closed a 5.25" drive.

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              • #17
                Originally posted by ALRBP View Post
                Floppy is a strange thing. Windows 10 does not support them but the drives letters "A" and "B" are still reserved for them and when I want to save something on most software (some have changed but not most) I still click on a floppy (even on my smartphone, a technology popularized after floppy became obsolete). It's like the ghost of floppy was still in every computer, years after floppy's death.

                I am probably one of the youngest people who know what a floppy is and actually used them in "production" (not professional use, I was too young). I still have old floppies somewhere in a box, but I wonder what does that strange floppy symbol means for younger people who never used floppy. Everyone knows it's the "save" symbol but for people who may never have seen a real floppy in their lives, the feeling must be different.
                I saw a screenshot of a tweet by a Japanese guy asking why the save icon is a vending machine.

                Originally posted by CochainComplex View Post
                Who appreciates the sound of it ? I love the sound of old Mac 3,5" floppies read/write. On windows computers it used to sound a bit like screaming but on mac it was more dull and dampend. BTW Sony was the manufacturing company of them afaik.
                1.44M floppies or 400/800K floppies? ...because the 400/800K floppies use a system known as "Zoned CAV GCR" which alters the spindle motor speed to fit more data on the outer tracks. Apple abandoned it for 1.44M floppies in favour of the same single-speed CAV MFM system that PCs use.

                Originally posted by cl333r View Post
                Same for the "alarm clock" symbol.

                Standard HCI research result. Affordances (similarities to things you're already familiar with) only speed the learning process and, once you've learned the system, the most important thing is consistency from version to version.

                Likewise, one of the rules that was imposed for designing Tango icons was that each icon must have a distinctive silhouette.

                ...I just wish that people using floppy disks as "the save glyph" hadn't started to get creative and do things like putting the clipped corner of a monochrome 3.5" floppy icon on the label end, or building franken-icons of 3.5" and 5.25" floppy features.

                Originally posted by vladimir86 View Post
                Still use them regularly, So I can tell you a bit of interesting trivia:
                -While, as expected a floppy drive under Linux is still seen as "fd0", USB drives are known as SDB, SDC... Like most standard USB sticks.
                It's because USB floppy drives are a special variant of the same USB Mass Storage Class as flash drives, and that speaks a subset of the SCSI command set. USB floppy drives speak a version called the "Uniform Floppy Interface".

                https://usb.org/sites/default/files/usbmass-ufi10.pdf

                (Same reason /dev/sdX is used for SATA and PATA. SATA support is implemented on top of the Linux kernel's SCSI driver framework and PATA support later got reworked on top of it, retiring /dev/hdX.)

                Originally posted by vladimir86 View Post
                However, it doesn't seem to display the partitions (pe sdb1,sdb2,etc), even when you put a formatted disk. It doesn't seem to recognise the ID's of the drives either, so no use to put them in fstab
                Huh. Somehow, it never occurred to me that someone might even want to put a partition table on a floppy disk.

                By "doesn't seem to recognize the ID's of the drives either", do you mean blkid's output? ...because that's just "For whatever reason, you need to run blkid as root to query VFAT and NTFS partitions. Here's what it says about my Best of Microsoft Entertainment Pack floppy:

                /dev/sdb: SEC_TYPE="msdos" LABEL="DISK1" UUID="0410-3309" TYPE="vfat"

                Originally posted by vladimir86 View Post
                -Windows 10 doesn't have any way to have old style of floppy drives, (I don't know of any system with IDE that could support Win10), but if you put any USB floppy drive, it'll also straight on get assigned letter A: and has its own icon. I don't have a second drive to check if it gets assigned B: , sadly
                I have two USB floppy drives. (Tiny calibration differences make a big difference on reading marginal sectors and what one drive has trouble with, the other usually reads without issue and vice-versa.)

                One of my younger brothers moved back in to cut costs and improve his mental health during COVID, so I'll try to remember to ask to borrow his Windows 10 PC for a moment once we're both awake at the same time.

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                • #18
                  What's wrong with Floppy Disks? They never did any wrong to you, leave them alone!

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                  • #19
                    Originally posted by f0rmat View Post
                    I still have the floppy that has my copy of my Master's Thesis on it - written using TeX. I also have another with the old Macintosh games Poon and SimCity and Tetris. I guess I need to dig out my old Toshiba external floppy drive (USB 1.1) and move all of that stuff to more modern hardware.
                    Your thesis is the sort of thing I'd have well backed up if I was you. Re: external drives, the modern take is GreaseWeazle.

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                    • #20
                      Originally posted by Mike Frett View Post
                      What's wrong with Floppy Disks? They never did any wrong to you, leave them alone!
                      Not so fast. I still have a grudge with them. A couple decades ago, I made a 45min bus trip to a friend's house with a box of 3.5 disks, to copy a good amount of emulator ROMs he had. Compressed them on a single file distributed over the 10 disks, for maximum compression. Another 45min trip back plus 15min walk to my home. On disk 6, a error occurred. With my fist in the air, I said: If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never use a floppy disk again.

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