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First post, by feipoa

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For users of Linux, how are you setting up your Gotek floppy emulator USB stick? From what I have gathered, there are a few ways to setup the Gotek, but none that target Linux from what I can tell. Please pardon all the questions, I am new to floppy emulators and spent quite a bit of time reading and watching videos, but still have questions galore.

1. It is possible to use the default Gotek firmware and not setup the USB stick with any fancy software. To do so, you insert the USB stick into the Gotek, hold both buttons down, and power the unit up. The Gotek will cycle through all the numbers on the front display then "format" your USB stick to be a 1.44 MB floppy disk. If you now remove that USB stick and put it into your Linux system, you can drag/drop individual files to the USB stick so much as that they do not exceed 1.39 MB total. Then put the USB stick back into the Gotek (mine is on a 486) and you can read those files on the A:/ or B:/ prompt in the root folder, or 000.

If you press the increment button on the Gotek, the system switches to another emulated floppy disk, which will be blank. This folder is now 001. From the 486's hard drive, you can move files to and from the 001 folder. However, when I remove the USB stick and put it back into the Linux system, Linux only sees the 000 folder. Is there a way to get Ubuntu 18.04 to see the 001 folder? Otherwise, I am limited to a single 1.44 MB folder on the Gotek. It seems like the Gotek needs to write "last state" information to the USB stick which sets your last folder as primary. But how do I tell it to do this?

Also, I have no idea if this method can be used to read and copy over floppy disk image files.

If I am indeed limited to a single floppy size of 1.44 MB using this method, is it possible to make it a 2.88 MB floppy instead?

2. Since the Gotek software for formatting proper floppy folders/images is in Mandarin, people have been using the software from IPCAS called USB Floppy Emulator v2. https://web.archive.org/web/20150219114822/ht … n-download.html Unfortunately, this software is for Windows! Is there something similar for Linux? It seems like when people use the IPCAS software, they are leaving the default Gotek firmware in place. I'm not sure if it will work with the HxC or FlashFloppy firmware, will it?

3. Use the HxC firmware. I watched some video on installing this. I thought the guy said something about needing to obtain a licence for this? Nonetheless, I got the impression that the HxC firmware is also wanting you to use floppy disk image files named in a certain way for it to work. I mostly want to use the Gotek for individual files and not mess with disk images. It seems that recently there was an "Image-less" mode supported by HxC. Does HxC provide some GUI software to get this up and running? Also, can this also work with imaged mode on the same USB stick? I've read that it can support 128 virtual floppy drives. When I install the USB stick in Ubuntu, will 128 drives pop up, or is there some software I can use to disable unused virtual drives?

4. Popular now seems to be the FlashFloppy firmware. It is still being updated and is free. Unfortunately, I was also under the impression that this firmware wants floppy images files for it to work properly.

5. Do any of the firmware work properly as a 2.88 MB floppy emulator? I have read about some experimental FlashFloppy releases that work as a 2.88 MB floppy emulator, but user reviews indicate it wasn't working well.

6. Is there any hack, either to the Gotek, MB BIOS, or both, which lets the Gotek work as a sort of general purpose USB stick of nearly limitless file sizes?

What do I want to do?

I want to use Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as the system which moves files onto and off of the USB stick. Ideally this would be done through whatever file manager is installed, e.g. Nautalis, Caja, etc. I don't want to be required to create floppy disk images just to read some files off the Gotek, but if it is absolutely necessary, what Linux GUI software can do this correctly? Is there something like the IPCAS USB Floppy Emulator v2 software that works in native Linux WITHOUT needing to go through Wine? At some point, the effort to get things working exceeds the alternative, which is just to continue using old fashion floppies.

Is there any firmware which lets me create folders on the USB sticks, 000, 001, 002, 003, etc and stick files in those folders and have it work on the Gotek with the increment buttons? That is originally what I thought the Gotek would do out of the box. Method 1. above is the closest, but if I can only switch the increment when in Linux.

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Reply 1 of 11, by BitWrangler

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Did you unmount the 000 image and remount 001?

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 2 of 11, by feipoa

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-09-23, 03:27:

Did you unmount the 000 image and remount 001?

How is this accomplished? When I insert the USB stick, Gparted and Disks indicate that it is an 8 GB Lexar USB stick with a single 8.00 GB FAT partition that is 100% full. In reality it has 1.39 MB space free to write, but due to significant digits, it looks like it is 100% full. The drive is auto mounted at /media/feipoa/FDISK000.

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Reply 3 of 11, by digistorm

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Honestly, I think you are approaching it totally wrong. If your goal is to manage files on your Linux machine, you are better off with either 1) a CF (or SD) to IDE adapter in your retro machine and a card reader for your Linux machine, or 2) a network card in your retro machine in combination with the mtcp software suite and it’s FTP server. Then you can manage your files from any FTP client. Alternatively, you could run the DOS or Windows client for Microsoft Networking and use a Norton Commander clone on your retro system.

Reply 4 of 11, by feipoa

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It would be nice to keep the comments targetted toward use of the Gotek, not alternatives. I am aware of several methods for putting files onto old computers, but right now I am only focusing on the Gotek when Linux is my primary modern system.

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Reply 5 of 11, by BitWrangler

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feipoa wrote on 2021-09-23, 04:52:
BitWrangler wrote on 2021-09-23, 03:27:

Did you unmount the 000 image and remount 001?

How is this accomplished? When I insert the USB stick, Gparted and Disks indicate that it is an 8 GB Lexar USB stick with a single 8.00 GB FAT partition that is 100% full. In reality it has 1.39 MB space free to write, but due to significant digits, it looks like it is 100% full. The drive is auto mounted at /media/feipoa/FDISK000.

Ah I see, I wondered if it was not clearing the FAT from the previous mount, then when you changed disk on the gotek and then linux tried to read a file with wrong FAT it hopped back obligingly to previous disk. But if that's how it sees it, then prolly needs a custom filesystem defined or something.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 6 of 11, by jtchip

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I have a Gotek and one of the first things I did, after verifying that it works with the built-in firmware, is to install FlashFloppy on it. I then manage the floppy images on Linux. This is much more convenient than using the built-in firmware which forces you to reformat the USB flash drive as a raw block device with somewhat clunky floppy image management.

  1. This page https://goughlui.com/2013/05/19/review-gotek- … -disk-emulator/ says that each image occupies exactly 1.5MiB (1572864B). This is fixed and is dependent on the model purchased, I've seen a 720KiB model of the Gotek. To mount the second and subsequent floppies in Linux, you'd probably have to create a loopback device at each offset with losetup -f -o <offset> (you'll have to look up the full syntax) and then mount the /dev/loopn block device.
  2. No, FlashFloppy and HxC use disk image files.
  3. You have to pay for HxC, either as standalone hardware or a firmware upgrade for the Gotek. I have no experience with it.
  4. Yes, but floppy image files really are more convenient. Simply mount the USB stick on a PC normally, then mount each floppy image with:
    mount <imagefile> <mountpoint>
    Create the image with:
    truncate -s 1440K <imagefile>
    mkfs.fat <imagefile>
  5. Yes, I've used FlashFloppy 3.13a with 2880KiB floppy images on an Asus P2B. That was an experimental release at the time (which I wasn't aware of, I simply downloaded the latest version) but it became the stable 3.15 a couple of months later.
  6. The hack would be against the BIOS. On an Atari ST (which has a similar disk controller to the PC), it's possible to use a floppy image with 255 tracks. I'm not aware if the PC BIOS (specifically the int 13h handler) can address that many tracks, or if MS-DOS can handle a "floppy" that large.

Reply 7 of 11, by LSS10999

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jtchip wrote on 2021-09-29, 01:30:

You have to pay for HxC, either as standalone hardware or a firmware upgrade for the Gotek. I have no experience with it.

I once bought a HxC license. The license is required for the flasher that installs the bootloader necessary to use the HxC firmware. It is per-device and 1 license will be consumed after flashing a device. The license is not needed for further installing/updating the actual firmware parts in that device.

Like FlashFloppy, you can configure most of the HxC features directly using the buttons. It's recommended to replace the stock 7-segment display with a 0.91-inch I2C OLED module so it can output more information which can be helpful in configuring.

However, I think there's little point to use Gotek (modded or not) on Linux if you're just handling floppy images rather than physical disks, as it's not difficult to create, mount and edit images there. Gotek is mainly meant to seamlessly replace physical floppy disks in workflows that involve such with USB sticks.

Reply 8 of 11, by feipoa

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Thanks for your detailed reply. Do you know of a GUI linux program which will let me create blank 1.44 MB and 2.88 MB floppy diskette images, allow me to drag/drop files to them, and have this image work with FlashFloppy?

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Reply 9 of 11, by LSS10999

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feipoa wrote on 2021-09-30, 04:19:

Thanks for your detailed reply. Do you know of a GUI linux program which will let me create blank 1.44 MB and 2.88 MB floppy diskette images, allow me to drag/drop files to them, and have this image work with FlashFloppy?

Sadly I don't know of any good GUI tools for creating images, but from what I found online, it's relatively trivial to create an empty image using command line.

The following command is all you need:

mkfs.vfat -C "floppy.img" 1440
(Change 1440 to 2880 if you want a 2.88MB one)

With some distro's desktop environments (such as Cinnamon), mounting floppy images is even more trivial thanks to "Disk Image Mounter" which automatically mounts the image as a loopback for you (be sure to eject/unmount them when you're done).

Reply 11 of 11, by feipoa

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Thanks. I've decided that I'll pickup this work later. The idea of having to make specific floppy images, limited to 1.44 MB (or 2.88 MB if lucky), in Linux has reduced my interest. It is faster just to throw files onto an actual floppy. I'll pickup this work in the future when my motivation returns.

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