FreeBee (or other) means of getting data off 5.25 disks?

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Forrest Aldrich

Feb 23, 2021, 5:13:48 PM2/23/21
I have some old 5.25" floppies that I stored data on, from the 3b1 years
ago. Presuming these are still readable (GRIN), is there a way with
FreeBee (or other tool/method) to get the data from them -- I can't even
imagine how, as you'd need to get the drive (first) and use mtools, etc.

Peter Schmidt

Feb 24, 2021, 6:51:57 AM2/24/21
I don't think freebee yet can read an actually floppy drive, so as to other methods:

1) Get a 3B1 ;-) and transfer the files off over a serial connection.

2) Get a 5.25" drive for a PC and use a floppy disk image creation tool. I have one under DOS on a machine from 1994 that lets you specify the sectors per track and other parameters. Last time I was messing with it (quite a while ago) I had yet to create a readable image from a 3B1 floppy, but it *should* be doable.

3) Mail me the disks and I will make tar files for you, kermit them to my Pi 400, and put them up on Google Drive.

Cheers -- Peter

Forrest Aldrich

Feb 24, 2021, 4:14:46 PM2/24/21
I have looked on eBay; nothing presently, but occasionally you can find
a 3b1 there.

There was an open source tool called "mtools" that would allow you to
read disks that had different layouts, including those from the 3b1; I'm
sure the code is still out there somewhere.

Are there any Linux distributions that even support 5.25" disks LOL
Getting one of those drives should be easy.


J Booth

Feb 25, 2021, 8:11:19 PM2/25/21
> Are there any Linux distributions that even support 5.25" disks LOL
Ohh yeah, I would assume there's plenty of support. =) Linux seems to support an amazing amount of h/w new and old.

If you can dump the disk images, you should be able to access them in FreeBee. Raw disk images of 320k (8sec/trk), 360k (9sec/trk), and 400k (10sec/trk) should all be detected properly. If you can dump the images, I can help review getting them accessible in FreeBee if you like.


Forrest Aldrich

Feb 26, 2021, 10:44:02 AM2/26/21
Here's an idea, I wonder if I can dump the images from Linux if I can in
turn mount those same images under the OS then pull off the data?


J Booth

Feb 26, 2021, 12:04:03 PM2/26/21
Yes, you should be able to 'dd' the floppy under Linux and then load that image in FreeBee to access the files. It's a little more involve to then export files out of FreeBee, but definitely can be done.

DoN. Nichols

Mar 1, 2021, 10:20:21 PM3/1/21
About the "still readable" question. My first set of floppies
for the "development set" had several which were unreadable as received.
Trying to rotate the floppy by its hub showed that it was more possible
when moved away from a particular edge. It turns out that that edge of
the jacket was pinched by a tightly packed binder. The solution was to
carefully trim about 1/32" off the edge of the jacket -- with scissors
which were degaussed before the operation. Given that treatment, the
floppy would rotate smoothly inside its jacket and everything loaded
without trouble.

Of course, first pull the floppy as far away from that edge as
possible, so you don't trim the floppy disc itself.

Just a work-around.

Good Luck,

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David Gesswein

Mar 7, 2021, 10:33:03 AM3/7/21
In article <s1b4vt$g3q$>,
Forrest Aldrich <> wrote:
>Here's an idea, I wonder if I can dump the images from Linux if I can in
>turn mount those same images under the OS then pull off the data?

Assuming you weren't using the DOS filesystem support on the 3b1 you can't
mount since stock Linux doesn't support the filesystem. There is a driver
you can build that does allow mounting. I was using it for hard
drive images but I think it works for floppies also. If I remember the install
disks are cpio archives without filesystem.

Since driver interface to Linux changes frequently it may be fiddly to get
it to work with any particular release.

You can image the disks with Linux but need to be careful. There is a large
colletion of 3b1 10 sector disks around that only 9 sectors were read so

The non Linux images tools seem to be a little easier to use.

If you are going to try this I can dig up my notes on how to do this under
Linux. You will need a computer that still has a floppy port. Last I herd
there was talk of dropping Linux floppy support but someone stepped up to be
maintainer so its good for now.

Forrest Aldrich

Mar 7, 2021, 3:09:17 PM3/7/21
There is (was) an open source tool called "mtools" which I recall using,
back in the day with the 3B1, to read other disks. It allows some forms
of tuning, etc., so it can read disks. It's been so long, I don't
recall the details -- but the source code must still be "out there"

That's a valid point, having a port for the 5.25 disk.


David Gesswein

Mar 7, 2021, 9:12:32 PM3/7/21
In article <s23bt9$o97$>,
Still exists and says it will handle disks with more sectors.

Its in the packages for my Centos 8.

It will only work if the filesystem on the disk is DOS. If you used the
native 3b1 filesystem it will not be able to extract the files.

If you made the disks the normal DOS format and number of sectors per track
you can just mount them under Linux.

Forrest Aldrich

Mar 8, 2021, 1:24:48 PM3/8/21
Good point, I don't recall what filesystem it was.

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