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Formatting a floppy disk in Linux (for ext2 or msdos).



Notes (or Questions)

I'll probably expound on this more somewhere else, like WhatIsARootDisk or MakingABootDisk, but it seems that msdos is a very common format for floppies used with Linux. Most boot floppies that I've checked are msdos (or are ext2 and msdos so similar that either can be read?). On the other hand, root floppies that I've checked (only Vector so far) seem to be neither (tested by attempting to mount with -t ext2 and -t msdos -- recent thought -- maybe they are linux-swap format?



Two steps are required to format a floppy in the "standard" Linux way -- format the floppy and then make a file system on the floppy:

As root:

Format the disk (I'm guessing that this does a low level format and makes something like a partition):

fdformat /dev/fd0H1440

?I should record here the settings for the various higher density disks that are possible:

  • 2880 (? very high density)
  • 1760 (??)

Create a filesystem:

mkfs -t ext2 /dev/fd0

Substitute msdos for ext2 if msdos is desired.

However, in order to use a floppy in Linux, you must mount it first ...


mount -t ext2 /dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy

The mount point (directory entry) must exist before the mount is attempted. If it does not exist, use md to create it (like md /mnt/floppy).

You can mount a partition "over" any directory entry -- any files or subdirectories present before the mount will be hidden (unavailable) while the mount is in effect. When the partition is unmounted (using umount) those files or subdirectories will again be available.

Mounting can be done by any user if user is specified in the fstab entry, as shown below:

/dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy ext2 user,sync,errors=continue 0 0

If there is an entry for the device in the fstab table, the user can mount the partition using only:

mount /mnt/floppy

-- the other parameters are picked up from the fstab entry.

Aside: I should [understand and then] mention that some of this is becoming more dos / Windows like (I'm thinking of the auto option for mounting (and some of the tools that go along with it) -- ditinguish between auto filesystem detect and auto mounting), and mtools (mentioned below). Oops, I guess I'm confused -- I think the auto mount option mounts a device automatically at boot time, it is the other tools / utilities (whose names I can't immediately remember) that can automatically mount a drive when a disk is inserted -- last time I listened to discussion about them they seemed to be somewhat unreliable or likely to cause problems.


There is another series of Linux utilities (mtools) for handling msdos floppy disks in Linux, including an mformat and an mmount -- not sure if they are included in Vector Linux.

Next Steps

After formatting a floppy you may want to create a Linux bootable disk or copy an image to a disk. Note to me -- I need to organize these two along with DdCloningScript and CloningAHardDrive to minimize duplication and confusion.

(Move this somewhere else -- not really relevant here.)

To make a bootable disk from an image, after mounting (not absolutely sure mounting is required, but it seems to have helped) do:

dd if=<path_to_image> of=/dev/fd0

<Currently, no significant content below this line.>


  • () RandyKramer - 19 Feb 2003
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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Topic revision: r5 - 2003-02-21 - RandyKramer
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