On Sun, Jan 1, 2017 at 8:56 PM, Thomas Mueller <mueller6...@twc.com> wrote:
>> That brings back memories.  Back in the day, there was discussion of
>> which *brand* of floppies to use, if you wanted to write something to
>> floppy, put it on a shelf, and be able to read it again 5 years from
>> now.  At the time, the "gold standard" was Dysan.  Floppy disk media
>> varied in quality, and if you bought based on lowest price, you
>> deserved what you got.
>> Floppies are sill made and sold - see http://www.floppydisk.com/.  I'd
>> get new ones to try this on instead of trying to reuse ancient stuff
>> lying around.
> I went to that website, mainly for curiosity.
> Now I don't know how or if the USB floppy drives work, whether some modern 
> OSes are temperamental in that regard.

I have one here.  It works on my machines, and is seen as A: under
Windows and /dev/fd0 under Linux (IIRC - not in Linux at the moment.)
The other modern OS that might be in use is OS/X, but I'm pretty sure
USB floppy drives work there too.

For more obscure stuff, you try it, and if it breaks, you get to keep
the pieces.

> For the internal drives, modern motherboards, as far as I can tell, no longer 
> have floppy headers, making it impossible to connect a regular floppy drive.

Which is why you use a USB floppy drive if you need to read floppies.

> The modern "floppy" is a USB stick.

Yep.  When I installed Linux to dual boot on my desktop, I did so from
a bootable USB stick with the Ubuntu installer on it.

That worked because my machine could be set to boot from a USB stick.
I have FreeDOS installed on an ancient (2005) Notebook.  It has a USB
2.0 add-on card and can read USB sticks, but cannot *boot* from them.
If I were trying to install DOS as the OS on the HD in that machine,
I'd have to boot from a DOS floppy in the USB floppy drive.  *That*
will work.

> There are also external USB hard drives, and Micronet Fantom (micronet.com) 
> external hard drives with both USB 3 and eSATA, up to 8 TB, if my memory is 
> accurate.

Sounds about right.

> But FreeDOS, and I believe all other DOSes, have trouble with multi-TB hard 
> drives, and I would want to partition with GPT, meaning not compatible with 
> FreeDOS or ReactOS.

Yes, they likely will have problems.

DOS understood FAT16 as the file system.  The smallest area of disk
readable/writable under DOS is the cluster, and every cluster must have
a unique address.  FAT16 used a 16 bit address, so you had a maximum
of 65,536 clusters.  The format routine maxed out at 32K cluster sizes,
so you got a 2GB limit on volume size for early HDs.  Hard drives got much
larger, and creating multiple 2GB partitions to stay within DOS's FAT16 limits
got irksome, so MS created FAT32.  But by that point, Windows was taking
over.  Getting plain DOS to work on a FAT32 file system on larger drives can
be a challenge. (I believe current FreeDOS kernels have FAT32 support.)

My old notebook was set to multiboot, with Win2K Pro, a couple of
flavors of Linux, and FreeDOS on separate HD partitions. IIRC, I
formatted the FreeDOS partition FAT32.  But getting FreeDOS to *boot*
from a grub2 menu was a challenge, and I had to do a lot of fiddling
before it worked.  I never did figure out just which fiddle did the
trick.  Then an unrelated problem forced me to wipe and reinstall 2K
and redo multi-boot under grub2.  I got Windows and Linux booting
again, but never could get FreeDOS back.

I haven't even booted the machine in a year or more.

> My computer hardware no longer has any floppy capability.

Nor most of mine, but that's why a USB floppy drive is a useful accessory.

> Tom

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