Deprecating / Removing floppy drive support

Rodney W. Grimes freebsd-rwg at pdx.rh.CN85.dnsmgr.net
Sun Dec 3 16:55:32 UTC 2017


> On 12/03/17 07:16, Cy Schubert wrote:
> > In message <CANCZdfrYdQTtjZJ_+jSVr25wjAZXd-+4atSaeT5ahfprbtXHWw at mail.gmail.c
> > om>
> > , Warner Losh writes:
> >> --001a1144e7002bf7b0055f684ec8
> >> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> >>
> >> On Sat, Dec 2, 2017 at 8:31 PM, Cy Schubert <Cy.Schubert at komquats.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >>> bms@ has given me USB floppy formatting code which I'd planned to merge
> >>>
> >> into fdformat but considering the underlying devices are so very different
> >>> it would be a difficult marriage. I'd be willing to support a ufdformat
> >>> instead.
> >>
> >>
> >> I'm keen on getting that into the tree. I have a ufd device and a need to
> >> use it from time to time. If nothing else, I can be a reviewer of the code.
> >> Is ufd working for you?
> > 
> > It does work. My todo was to merge ufdformat into fdformat but as I said
> > they are different enough that I need to work out how best to merge them.
> > Having said that, now that there's discussion of removing fdc(4) maybe it's
> > best to simply use ufdformat separately from fdformat that when we have the
> > inclination to remove fdc(4), which may be very soon now -- it would be
> > much less messy. I'm open to either option.
> > 
> >>
> >>
> >>>>
> >>>> Normally, I'd argue we might want to have a release where it's
> >>> deprecated,
> >>>> but it already was unusable in 11, and barely usable in 10 and has been a
> >>>> shadow of its former self for much longer than that.
> >>>
> >>> The reason to keep some form of floppy support, eder fd or ufd is for the
> >>> purpose of copying (dd) floppy media into image files for use with
> >>> virtualbox or bhyve VMs. -- (One could say the same for CD and DVD drives.
> >>> My new laptop at $JOB has no CD/DVD drive.) I digress. I think the ability
> >>> to copy media to image files for VMs might be a reason to keep some form of
> >>> support fd or ufd.
> >>
> >>
> >> I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here...
> > 
> > What I'm saying is that maintaining some form of fdc support whether it be
> > in fdc(4) or a USB floppy the ability to dd floppy images for subsequent
> > use in a VM would be desirable. I'm thinking of one example brought to my
> > attention about a month ago where a person I know needed to copy old floppy
> > disks to images on his hard drive in order to install an old sewing machine
> > application in a virtualbox VM running Windows.
> > 
> > Tangentially speaking, we could make the same case for CD and DVD drives
> > not too many years from now...
> > 
> > Personally, I don't care much (well maybe just a little) if fdc(4) itself
> > is removed however I think we need some kind of support, which USB fd can
> > supply if or when fdc(4) is removed. Maybe we should deprecate in 12 and
> > remove in 13?
> > 
> > 
> 
> Hi,
> 
> I think as long as you can read and write USB floppy drives under 
> FreeBSD, this change is OK. Even though floppies are old-tech they are 
> still important:
> 
> https://news.slashdot.org/story/16/05/25/2054255/us-military-uses-8-inch-floppy-disks-to-coordinate-nuclear-force-operations
> 
> And from time to time we see criminal cases popping up with crazy people 
> using old C64's with floppy disks. I would feel bad if removing support 
> for floppies from FreeBSD would mean you would depend on a Windows 
> installation to read such disks.
> 
> Further, keep this change two-step. First remove the code from GENERIC. 
> Then wait a year and see if anyone complains. Then delete the source code.
> 
> --HPS

I was gona keep quiet on this, but, well, I just cant now.  If you remove
the entry from GENERIC no one well complain, the more likely case is they
well just compile a customer kernel and do there work.  So using this as
a "is anyone using it" is a straw man.

That being said, even an old crusty fart like me only has had to deal
with a 1.44 MB floppy in nearly a year, but I was very glad that I COULD
deal with it using my prefered OS.

Now I have lots of hardware around so it was not hard for me to find
a TEAC 1.44 drive and hook it to my forensics motherboard and deal
with the image, maybe it is good I am stuck on 5.4 with that system
as it sounds like someone has broken yet another part of FreeBSD
in the name of some progress.

**RANT ON**

Data point:  OpenBSD still supports install from floppies.. so
my guess is that OpenBSD has been able to keep this code running,
it is a "Sad State of Affairs" that FreeBSD with 300+ developers
can not manage the same.  As Eitan pointed out, its only a 1000
lines so of code.   Really now, we can manage to keep the mass
of clang and zfs running, but we can not keep a 1000 line fdc.c
running?

I further know of someone who just told me they completed
a converson of a stack of old 1.44MB floppies and 100MB
zip disks to image files, and I am pretty sure that person
is running 11.1 on a laptop, so this was probably done
with the USB fd code, so I suppose we do have some form
of support.   It is possible that person netbooted an
older desktop to do the work, as he does have those types
of abilities.

**DOUBLE RANT**

Having been gone from the project for a long time and
looking at it from the outside my observation is that
FreeBSD is a lot of new toys that work fairly well and
a collection of rotting bits that get the axe every few
years.

Each and everytime I have tried to move my collection
of systems forward I have run into yet another thing that 
has simply been killed cause no one maintained it, broken
cause someone added/changed something else and allowed it
to sit and rot tell it was axed cause it was broken.

If we, that is FreeBSD, continue on this path I can promise
you our PR data base today well look like a mud puddle
comparied to the ocean we shall create.

Rather than spend time running around the tree finding
rotting code to delete there needs to be a serious
effort running around the tree FIXING the code that has
rotted cause some new fangled thing borked it.

** END RANTS**

-- 
Rod Grimes                                                 rgrimes at freebsd.org


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