Deprecating / Removing floppy drive support

Rodney W. Grimes freebsd-rwg at
Sun Dec 3 16:55:32 UTC 2017

> On 12/03/17 07:16, Cy Schubert wrote:
> > In message <CANCZdfrYdQTtjZJ_+jSVr25wjAZXd-+4atSaeT5ahfprbtXHWw at
> > 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>
> >> 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:
> 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.


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

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.


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

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.


Rod Grimes                                                 rgrimes at

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