How would I format a thumb drive to work in both Linux and photocopy machines?

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Steve Mysterious

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Dec 11, 2021, 12:20:29 PM12/11/21
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Hi,

Like many people these days I do not have a printer.

I need to print something out maybe 4 times a year.

I've been putting my documents on a thumb drive and taking them to FedEx ( an American business center chain ) to print them out.

The photocopy machines there always tell me that it can't detect any files on it.

I usually have to go one of their Microsoft Windows workstations to bring up the documents and print them out. This is much more expensive than printing from the photocopy machines.

Their Microsoft Windows workstations usually tell me the drive is "damaged", asks me if I want to "repair" it, and does something to it so it can see the files.

I have the thumb drive formatted as VFAT/MSDOS.

Is there something else I can to make the thumb drive usable in Linux and readable by modern photocopy/printing machines?

Thanks for any tips

Steve

Rich

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Dec 11, 2021, 1:11:47 PM12/11/21
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Steve Mysterious <tink...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Their Microsoft Windows workstations usually tell me the drive is
> "damaged", asks me if I want to "repair" it, and does something to it
> so it can see the files.

After their windows workstations have "repaired" the drive, will the
photocopiers then see the files?

If yes, you could instead let the windows workstation "repair" and then
after "repair" unplug and go to the copier to do the lower cost print.

> I have the thumb drive formatted as VFAT/MSDOS.
>
> Is there something else I can to make the thumb drive usable in Linux
> and readable by modern photocopy/printing machines?

You'll have to determine what it is the photocopy machine expects from
the drive to know the answer to this question.

Steve Mysterious

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Dec 11, 2021, 1:23:13 PM12/11/21
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On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 1:11:47 PM UTC-5, Rich wrote:
> Steve Mysterious <> wrote:
> > Their Microsoft Windows workstations usually tell me the drive is
> > "damaged", asks me if I want to "repair" it, and does something to it
> > so it can see the files.
> After their windows workstations have "repaired" the drive, will the
> photocopiers then see the files?

No, I tried that.

Carlos E.R.

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Dec 11, 2021, 1:28:10 PM12/11/21
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AFAIK, printers expect vfat, but my guess is that your stick needs
repair "always", and the printer thus rejects it.

So, you probably remove incorrectly your thumb drive from your computer.


--
Cheers, Carlos.

Carlos E.R.

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Dec 11, 2021, 1:48:10 PM12/11/21
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Then those copiers are intentionally broken so that you have to pay more.

--
Cheers, Carlos.

Steve Mysterious

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Dec 11, 2021, 1:55:19 PM12/11/21
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On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 1:28:10 PM UTC-5, Carlos E.R. wrote:

> So, you probably remove incorrectly your thumb drive from your computer.

I use the Cinnamon desktop. I just insert the thumb drive and it is automounted.

Would right clicking on the icon for the thumb drive and choosing "Eject" be enough for properly removing it.

I don't always do that.

I will experiment with doing that the next time I pass by FedEx and see what happens.

Would modern enterprise grade photocopier/printers expect a more modern windows filesystem?

John-Paul Stewart

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Dec 11, 2021, 2:41:06 PM12/11/21
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On 2021-12-11 13:55, Steve Mysterious wrote:
>
> I use the Cinnamon desktop. I just insert the thumb drive and it is
> automounted.
>
> Would right clicking on the icon for the thumb drive and choosing
> "Eject" be enough for properly removing it.
>
> I don't always do that.

That's almost certainly the problem. Make sure you unmount or "eject"
it before removing it. Always!

Carlos E.R.

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Dec 11, 2021, 2:48:10 PM12/11/21
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On 11/12/2021 19.55, Steve Mysterious wrote:
> On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 1:28:10 PM UTC-5, Carlos E.R. wrote:
>
>> So, you probably remove incorrectly your thumb drive from your computer.
>
> I use the Cinnamon desktop. I just insert the thumb drive and it is automounted.
>
> Would right clicking on the icon for the thumb drive and choosing "Eject" be enough for properly removing it.

You should, yes.

>
> I don't always do that.
>
> I will experiment with doing that the next time I pass by FedEx and see what happens.
>
> Would modern enterprise grade photocopier/printers expect a more modern windows filesystem?

No. They could work with exfat, but even ntfs is not guaranteed.

What may also happen is that they don't support every vfat variation.
They should not object to the original format of the stick as out of the
factory.

I know, for instance, that my camera does not accept a memory card
formatted externally, it has to be formatted by the camera (and this is
common). But the camera writes on the card, the photocopier or printer
doesn't.

Try a stick as small as you can find, not a 32 gig one. Try with 4 gigs
if you can find it.

For instance, I have a large stick with music for playing on the car,
but the car media system says it has too many items to index and aborts.


They seem to support a very limited subset of "thumb" features.

Next time, take an assortment of sticks with the same files for
printing, and find out which one works.


--
Cheers, Carlos.

Steve Mysterious

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Dec 11, 2021, 2:54:46 PM12/11/21
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On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 2:48:10 PM UTC-5, Carlos E.R. wrote:
> What may also happen is that they don't support every vfat variation.
> They should not object to the original format of the stick as out of the
> factory.
>
> I know, for instance, that my camera does not accept a memory card
> formatted externally, it has to be formatted by the camera (and this is
> common). But the camera writes on the card, the photocopier or printer
> doesn't.
>
> Try a stick as small as you can find, not a 32 gig one. Try with 4 gigs
> if you can find it.

Ha. The thumb drive I use for printing is only 1G and I've had it for many years.

I don't remember, but I'm positive it must have been formatted since I got it.

I'm sure I will eventually get my money back trying out a virgin drive.

When I have to print from a FedEx workstation the cost ends up being about $1 USB a page.

Steve Mysterious

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Dec 11, 2021, 3:06:57 PM12/11/21
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On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 2:54:46 PM UTC-5, Steve Mysterious wrote:
> When I have to print from a FedEx workstation the cost ends up being about $1 USB a page.

I meant $1 a page USD.

Bobbie Sellers

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Dec 11, 2021, 3:17:08 PM12/11/21
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Thank goodness it was not another cryptocurrency,
But if you want to use small USB flash drives search online.

bliss - brought to you by the power and ease of PCLinuxOS
and a minor case of hypergraphia

--
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Robert Heller

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Dec 11, 2021, 3:17:23 PM12/11/21
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Almost all "Appliances" that take a thumb drive expect the VFAT file system,
which is the file system thumb drive are factory formatted with. The only real
exception to this would be DVD/BluRay players and TVs which also will take
NTFS, which is needed to handle files larger then 4G, typically video files
(movies).

And yes, you really need to right click and select Eject and wait for the "It
is OK to remove your drive" message popup before removing the thumb drive.
Not doing this is what the "damaged" message on the Mess-Windows workstations
are mumbling about. And it is not supprising that the printer is unhappy with
the "damaged" file system on the thumb drive and it is possible that
"repairing" them on a Mess-Windows work station might not really fix things,
since the files might not be fully copied, so the "repairs" might result in a
broken (incomplete) file (eg a PDF missing its master index table).
--
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Mike Scott

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Dec 12, 2021, 11:16:04 AM12/12/21
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And then wait for write activity to cease before pulling it out.


--
Mike Scott
Harlow, England

Robert Heller

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Dec 12, 2021, 2:15:15 PM12/12/21
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There is usually a popup telling you when it is safe to remove the drive.

The Natural Philosopher

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Dec 13, 2021, 6:52:45 AM12/13/21
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On 11/12/2021 18:55, Steve Mysterious wrote:
> On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 1:28:10 PM UTC-5, Carlos E.R. wrote:
>
>> So, you probably remove incorrectly your thumb drive from your computer.
>
> I use the Cinnamon desktop. I just insert the thumb drive and it is automounted.
>
> Would right clicking on the icon for the thumb drive and choosing "Eject" be enough for properly removing it.
yes

>
> I don't always do that.

smack yer botty. Do it.

>
> I will experiment with doing that the next time I pass by FedEx and see what happens.
>
> Would modern enterprise grade photocopier/printers expect a more modern windows filesystem?
>


--
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale
returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

Mark Twain

Ant

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Dec 13, 2021, 6:25:57 PM12/13/21
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The Natural Philosopher <t...@invalid.invalid> wrote:
> On 11/12/2021 18:55, Steve Mysterious wrote:
> > On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 1:28:10 PM UTC-5, Carlos E.R. wrote:
> >
> >> So, you probably remove incorrectly your thumb drive from your computer.
> >
> > I use the Cinnamon desktop. I just insert the thumb drive and it is automounted.
> >
> > Would right clicking on the icon for the thumb drive and choosing "Eject" be enough for properly removing it.
> yes

> >
> > I don't always do that.

> smack yer botty. Do it.

Ditto. Play it safe!
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Note: A fixed width font (Courier, Monospace, etc.) is required to see this signature correctly.
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Steve Mysterious

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Dec 16, 2021, 1:06:55 PM12/16/21
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Hello,

Earlier replies to this question suggested that the Fed EX photocopy/printer machines could not read vsdos formatted thumb drives if such drives were
previously reformatted.

I bought a new 1 gig thumb drive.

I made sure to choose the "eject" option on my desktop before removing the new drive.

I did not put the files in a folder on the thumb drive.

I returned to Fed Ex again today and I was able to print from the USB drive at one of their photocopy/printer machines.

Fifteen cents a page, instead of a dollar a page to print from a workstation at a different and locally owned business center.

I thought I would post this update to help anyone in the future doing a web or a Usenet search on this issue.

Thanks for the help!

Steve



Robert Heller

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Dec 16, 2021, 3:12:17 PM12/16/21
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At Thu, 16 Dec 2021 10:06:53 -0800 (PST) Steve Mysterious <tink...@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> On Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 12:20:29 PM UTC-5, Steve Mysterious wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > Like many people these days I do not have a printer.
> >
> > I need to print something out maybe 4 times a year.
> >
> > I've been putting my documents on a thumb drive and taking them to FedEx ( an American business center chain ) to print them out.
> >
> > The photocopy machines there always tell me that it can't detect any files on it.
> >
> > I usually have to go one of their Microsoft Windows workstations to bring up the documents and print them out. This is much more expensive than printing from the photocopy machines.
> >
> > Their Microsoft Windows workstations usually tell me the drive is "damaged", asks me if I want to "repair" it, and does something to it so it can see the files.
> >
> > I have the thumb drive formatted as VFAT/MSDOS.
> >
> > Is there something else I can to make the thumb drive usable in Linux and readable by modern photocopy/printing machines?
> >
> > Thanks for any tips
> >
> > Steve
>
> Hello,
>
> Earlier replies to this question suggested that the Fed EX photocopy/printer machines could not read vsdos formatted thumb drives if such drives were
> previously reformatted.
>
> I bought a new 1 gig thumb drive.
>
> I made sure to choose the "eject" option on my desktop before removing the new drive.
>

Yes -- you should *always* choose the "eject" option and wait for the "It is
safe to remove" message popup.

> I did not put the files in a folder on the thumb drive.

This is probably important! It is likely that the printer is like an Arduino
and has a greatly simplified implementation of the vfat file system --
something very close to the original CP/M / early MS-DOS implementation,
before directory files were incorporated.

>
> I returned to Fed Ex again today and I was able to print from the USB drive at one of their photocopy/printer machines.
>
> Fifteen cents a page, instead of a dollar a page to print from a workstation at a different and locally owned business center.
>
> I thought I would post this update to help anyone in the future doing a web or a Usenet search on this issue.
>
> Thanks for the help!
>
> Steve
>
>
>
>
>

TJ

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Dec 29, 2021, 8:49:32 AM12/29/21
to
On 12/16/21 13:06, Steve Mysterious wrote:

>
> Hello,
>
> Earlier replies to this question suggested that the Fed EX photocopy/printer machines could not read vsdos formatted thumb drives if such drives were
> previously reformatted.
>
> I bought a new 1 gig thumb drive.
>
Possibly the problem. Flash memory does "wear out" over time, but with
good quality chips this usually takes a looooong time.

> I made sure to choose the "eject" option on my desktop before removing the new drive.
>
Most likely what the problem was. It has to do with how flash memory
works. It doesn't "erase" old files the same way that "rust" drives do,
and because of that a drive may be fast when it is new, but slows down
as it is used. This lets you get away with pulling the drive without
checking when it is new, but not when it has some "experience."

My experience is with Dolphin in the Mageia Plasma desktop, but the
Cinnamon file manager probably works the same way. When a file is copied
from one device to another, it goes through a buffer in the unused RAM,
waiting there while the (probably slower) destination device deals with
it. With Plasma, I get a notice that copying is complete when the entire
file is in the buffer, but before the drive has actually finished
dealing with it. If the flash device is pulled at that time, the file on
it will probably show as "damaged."

Using the "eject" or "safely remove" function lets you know when the
entire copy is actually on the drive.

> I did not put the files in a folder on the thumb drive.
>
I have three printers, so I never have a use for this Fedex service. I
can easily imagine a printer that can't deal with folders, but not one
at a business like Fedex. I do have a bit of experience with a
Photosmart printer that can print directly from a camera's memory card,
and every one of those cameras I've ever used uses folders, so I think
it would be unlikely that that's the problem.
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