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Floppy Driver
FAQ list:
A FAQ list may be found in the fdutils package (see below), and also
at <>.
LILO configuration options (Thinkpad users, read this)
The floppy driver is configured using the 'floppy=' option in
lilo. This option can be typed at the boot prompt, or entered in the
lilo configuration file.
Example: If your kernel is called linux-2.6.9, type the following line
at the lilo boot prompt (if you have a thinkpad)::
linux-2.6.9 floppy=thinkpad
You may also enter the following line in /etc/lilo.conf, in the description
of linux-2.6.9::
append = "floppy=thinkpad"
Several floppy related options may be given, example::
linux-2.6.9 floppy=daring floppy=two_fdc
append = "floppy=daring floppy=two_fdc"
If you give options both in the lilo config file and on the boot
prompt, the option strings of both places are concatenated, the boot
prompt options coming last. That's why there are also options to
restore the default behavior.
Module configuration options
If you use the floppy driver as a module, use the following syntax::
modprobe floppy floppy="<options>"
modprobe floppy floppy="omnibook messages"
If you need certain options enabled every time you load the floppy driver,
you can put::
options floppy floppy="omnibook messages"
in a configuration file in /etc/modprobe.d/.
The floppy driver related options are:
Sets the bit mask to allow only units 0 and 1. (default)
Tells the floppy driver that you have a well behaved floppy controller.
This allows more efficient and smoother operation, but may fail on
certain controllers. This may speed up certain operations.
Tells the floppy driver that your floppy controller should be used
with caution.
Tells the floppy driver that you have only one floppy controller.
floppy=two_fdc / floppy=<address>,two_fdc
Tells the floppy driver that you have two floppy controllers.
The second floppy controller is assumed to be at <address>.
This option is not needed if the second controller is at address
0x370, and if you use the 'cmos' option.
Tells the floppy driver that you have a Thinkpad. Thinkpads use an
inverted convention for the disk change line.
Tells the floppy driver that you don't have a Thinkpad.
floppy=omnibook / floppy=nodma
Tells the floppy driver not to use Dma for data transfers.
This is needed on HP Omnibooks, which don't have a workable
DMA channel for the floppy driver. This option is also useful
if you frequently get "Unable to allocate DMA memory" messages.
Indeed, dma memory needs to be continuous in physical memory,
and is thus harder to find, whereas non-dma buffers may be
allocated in virtual memory. However, I advise against this if
you have an FDC without a FIFO (8272A or 82072). 82072A and
later are OK. You also need at least a 486 to use nodma.
If you use nodma mode, I suggest you also set the FIFO
threshold to 10 or lower, in order to limit the number of data
transfer interrupts.
If you have a FIFO-able FDC, the floppy driver automatically
falls back on non DMA mode if no DMA-able memory can be found.
If you want to avoid this, explicitly ask for 'yesdma'.
Tells the floppy driver that a workable DMA channel is available.
Disables the FIFO entirely. This is needed if you get "Bus
master arbitration error" messages from your Ethernet card (or
from other devices) while accessing the floppy.
Enables the FIFO. (default)
Sets the FIFO threshold. This is mostly relevant in DMA
mode. If this is higher, the floppy driver tolerates more
interrupt latency, but it triggers more interrupts (i.e. it
imposes more load on the rest of the system). If this is
lower, the interrupt latency should be lower too (faster
processor). The benefit of a lower threshold is less
To tune the fifo threshold, switch on over/underrun messages
using 'floppycontrol --messages'. Then access a floppy
disk. If you get a huge amount of "Over/Underrun - retrying"
messages, then the fifo threshold is too low. Try with a
higher value, until you only get an occasional Over/Underrun.
It is a good idea to compile the floppy driver as a module
when doing this tuning. Indeed, it allows to try different
fifo values without rebooting the machine for each test. Note
that you need to do 'floppycontrol --messages' every time you
re-insert the module.
Usually, tuning the fifo threshold should not be needed, as
the default (0xa) is reasonable.
Sets the CMOS type of <drive> to <type>. This is mandatory if
you have more than two floppy drives (only two can be
described in the physical CMOS), or if your BIOS uses
non-standard CMOS types. The CMOS types are:
== ==================================
0 Use the value of the physical CMOS
1 5 1/4 DD
2 5 1/4 HD
3 3 1/2 DD
4 3 1/2 HD
5 3 1/2 ED
6 3 1/2 ED
16 unknown or not installed
== ==================================
(Note: there are two valid types for ED drives. This is because 5 was
initially chosen to represent floppy *tapes*, and 6 for ED drives.
AMI ignored this, and used 5 for ED drives. That's why the floppy
driver handles both.)
Print a warning message when an unexpected interrupt is received.
floppy=no_unexpected_interrupts / floppy=L40SX
Don't print a message when an unexpected interrupt is received. This
is needed on IBM L40SX laptops in certain video modes. (There seems
to be an interaction between video and floppy. The unexpected
interrupts affect only performance, and can be safely ignored.)
Don't use the disk change line, but assume that the disk was
changed whenever the device node is reopened. Needed on some
boxes where the disk change line is broken or unsupported.
This should be regarded as a stopgap measure, indeed it makes
floppy operation less efficient due to unneeded cache
flushings, and slightly more unreliable. Please verify your
cable, connection and jumper settings if you have any DCL
problems. However, some older drives, and also some laptops
are known not to have a DCL.
Print debugging messages.
Print informational messages for some operations (disk change
notifications, warnings about over and underruns, and about
Uses a less noisy way to clear the disk change line (which
doesn't involve seeks). Implied by 'daring' option.
Sets the floppy IRQ to <nr> instead of 6.
Sets the floppy DMA channel to <nr> instead of 2.
Use PS/2 stepping rate::
PS/2 floppies have much slower step rates than regular floppies.
It's been recommended that take about 1/4 of the default speed
in some more extreme cases.
Supporting utilities and additional documentation:
Additional parameters of the floppy driver can be configured at
runtime. Utilities which do this can be found in the fdutils package.
This package also contains a new version of mtools which allows to
access high capacity disks (up to 1992K on a high density 3 1/2 disk!).
It also contains additional documentation about the floppy driver.
The latest version can be found at fdutils homepage:
The fdutils releases can be found at:
Reporting problems about the floppy driver
If you have a question or a bug report about the floppy driver, mail
me at . If you post to Usenet, preferably use
comp.os.linux.hardware. As the volume in these groups is rather high,
be sure to include the word "floppy" (or "FLOPPY") in the subject
line. If the reported problem happens when mounting floppy disks, be
sure to mention also the type of the filesystem in the subject line.
Be sure to read the FAQ before mailing/posting any bug reports!
10-30-2004 :
Cleanup, updating, add reference to module configuration.
James Nelson <>
6-3-2000 :
Original Document