floppy disks?

Karl Auer kauer at biplane.com.au
Sat Mar 9 02:12:33 UTC 2019


On Fri, 2019-03-08 at 16:12 -0800, rikona wrote:
> I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.
> Running Ubuntu 16.04 updated but thinking of upgrading. Can I buy and
> use a USB floppy disk drive to read these disks on a plug and go
> basis?

Yes. However, data on magnetic storage is quite vulnerable, and the
physical medium is not that tough either; if they have not been stored
well, you may find disk errors.

> If so, do I have to buy certain drives to work well with Ubuntu?

Any USB floppy disk drive will work fine.

> Will I have to download any software to do this, or perhaps do this
> in a better way?

The Linux drivers should still work fine.

>  Some may be early floppies and have lower density - might these not
> be readable by what is now recognized by Ubuntu? Also, will newer or
> older versions of Ubuntu have more/less/the same capability for old
> floppies?

Different storage densities can present problems; in general the higher
the density the more likely you'll have issues, because the tracks are
narrower and they are more vulnerable to differences between drives.
Genarally speaking, a high-density drive can read lower density disks.

> Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days.
> Is there any way to read such floppies now?

You might be able to find someone still selling such drives. The big
problem will be physically connecting such a drive to your computer -
these drives dies out before USB existed. Don't buy a drive without a
controller, and make sure you have a system the controller can go into.
I think a storage/recovery specialist would be your best bet. Make sure
you have a fixed-price quote or set an upper limit on the time they can
spend on your project. They may require payment to produce a
quote/estimate.

With 8" floppies and to a lesser extent 5.25" floppies, there was a
plethora of different formats used to write data. Even with a
controller and a drive, the format may still be a hurdle.

This page has some info, might be  good starting point:

http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/s_drives_howto.html

Regards, K.

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Karl Auer (kauer at biplane.com.au)
http://www.biplane.com.au/kauer
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