Formatting a DOS Floppy

Suppose that you run Linux on your home PC and MS-DOS is no longer on your system, but you need to copy some files onto an MS-DOS floppy disk and take the disk to your office. If you already have a formatted MS-DOS floppy, you can simply mount that floppy and copy the file to the floppy by using the Linux cp command. But what if you don't have a formatted DOS floppy? The mtools package again comes to the rescue.

The mtools package provides the mformat utility, which can format a floppy disk for use in MS-DOS. Unlike the DOS format command, which formats a floppy in a single step, the mformat command requires you to follow a two-step process:

1. Use the fdformat command to low-level-format a floppy disk. The fdformat command uses the floppy device name as the argument; the device name includes all the parameters necessary for formatting the floppy disk. Figure 12-8 illustrates the device-naming convention for the floppy drive device. Based on the information shown in Figure 12-8, you use the following command to format a 3.5-inch, high-density floppy disk in your system's A drive: fdformat /dev/fd0H1440








3 or 4 digits indicating capacity of floppy disk in kilobytes:

5.25-inch: 360, 720, or 1200 3.5-inch: 360, 720, or 1440 high-density: 1660, 1706, and more

One of the following letters: d = low-density 5.25-inch D = low-density 3.5-inch h = high-density 5.25-inch H = high-density 3.25-inch u = 3.5-inch formatted for higher density

One of the following letters:

Figure 12-8: Naming Convention for the Floppy Disk Drive in Linux.

2. Use the mformat command to put an MS-DOS file system on the low-level-formatted floppy disk. If the floppy is in drive A, type the following command to create a formatted DOS floppy:

mformat a:

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