Information Technology

Installing a Floppy Drive in OpenSuSE 11

Some of you might have guessed this post was coming given my prior post about needing a floppy to install some DOS software. When I installed my 64-bit version of OpenSuSE 11.1, I did not have a floppy drive installed on my machine. Indeed, it was even disabled in the BIOS. (Some of you might even remember from a prior post that the BIOS only supports a 3.5” floppy, not 5.25”.)

It ought to be a simple thing. Once I found a 3.5” floppy and a cable long enough to reach the bottom of my machine from the next to top drive bay things were looking up. You can forget about getting your LS-120 drive recognized as a floppy drive. I tried everything. Yes, you can stick a floppy in it and if there is anything on the floppy Dolphin will show the icon, but you couldn’t format an empty floppy there on a bet. You also cannot get either DOSbox or dosemu to recognize the thing as a floppy, which is the ultimate goal.

There are a lot of instructions on line when it comes to adding a floppy drive after the fact. Most of them only worked for one person at one time. All of them “assumed” the reader would do certain things automatically, thus left out critical pieces of information.

After you’ve done the hardware part, you need to open a terminal window and change to root. Once you’ve done that, you need to edit a file named fstab. I humbly suggest you make a safety copy before editing. Please note that you have to be careful about what editor you try to launch. Most of the on-line places will tell you to use vi. I don’t live in a cave, eat my own young, or foul my nest, so I don’t use vi.

roland@linux-uz4n:~> su

Password:

cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.save

linux-uz4n:/home/roland # madedit /etc/fstab

You need to add the following line to the end of the file. Make certain you leave a line with only a carriage return on it at the end of the file.

/dev/fd0 /media/floppy auto noauto,user,exec,rw,sync 0 0

Once you do this, you need to create a directory so there is a mount point. I know, the installation should have created this for you, but it didn’t. I think a large reason behind that is the move to Dolphin and changing how storage devices are handled. Many will now automatically mount when connected if you have Dolphin installed. The downside is floppies don’t get recognized.

mkdir /media/floppy

ls -al /media

total 12

drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 2009-05-08 09:58 .

drwxr-xr-x 23 root root 4096 2009-05-08 09:58 ..

drwxr-xr-x 2 root users 4096 2009-05-08 09:52 floppy

chown root:users /media/floppy

chmod a+rw /media/floppy

ls -al /media

total 12

drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 2009-05-08 09:58 .

drwxr-xr-x 23 root root 4096 2009-05-08 09:58 ..

drwxrwxrwx 2 root users 4096 2009-05-08 09:52 floppy

I’m not certain you have to change the protection on the directory, but I did. I had still had issues. Finally, I went into YAST User management and check the “floppy” checkbox for my user ID. I still had no real success. Then I did the one thing nobody mentioned. I rebooted.

Now I can type dosemu in a terminal window. A DOS window opens and I can do things like this: