Floppy Disc and CD-ROM img and iso capture/creator [NOT URGENT]

Hi all,

I am using a local version of EaaS on my laptop, and I am looking for a utility program to capture disk images of 3.5 Floppy disks and CD-ROMs, and if zip disks could be included in there too that would be useful. I am using a Windows 10 PC. I have a USB floppy drive I can access and a zip disk 250 drive.

I have tried MagicISO, WinImage, and FTK Imager and I have had no luck. The images created by these programs do not appear to be able to be read by the version of EaaS I have (sorry - can’t remember which version that is, but it was obtained in March 2020.

Any advice on what to do here? I can’t afford a Kryoflux (and all of its associated subscription costs). Also not interested in hunting down whole legacy PC hardware to do this, unless I really have to.

regards,
Tim Mifsud
NAA

Hello @tim.mifsud! There are a number of different questions to troubleshoot here, but I’m sure we can collectively help. It would probably be helpful to consider each media type separately - 3.5 floppy, CD-ROM/ISO, and Zip. And with each, it is indeed best to confirm, if we can, that the imaging process was complete and successful before getting into the EaaS import and mounting process, so that we are confident the issue is somewhere in EaaS or the environment configuration and not the disk images themselves.

First the CD-ROMs - have you tried to make ISO files from them with all three of the imaging programs mentioned? Most emulators do not support, for example, BIN/CUE files or E01 files or most of the other formats that those imaging programs sometimes offer for optical media. Sometimes a raw (BIN) file can work just by changing/renaming the extension to “.iso”. If you have been making ISOs already - do they mount correctly on their own in Windows 10?

Just in terms of other options, in addition to the programs you mention, I know many people have had success with IsoBuster for imaging optical media. So perhaps it is also worth a shot. And I highly recommend @aschweik’s report for NYU a few years back for a thorough rundown on all the different types and layouts of optical media out there and possible problems with imaging, e.g. multi-session or Audio CDs. I don’t know if it will be relevant here, but I’ve always found it a very useful resource for potential oddities.

For floppies, I’ll quickly plug the FluxEngine project, which is a much cheaper and more open alternative to the Kryoflux. However that still involves finding the legacy hardware (and the need to convert raw flux data into disk images that can actually be used in emulation, which is a whole other side of things), so that’s just an aside - a USB 3.5" floppy drive should in theory be fine to get that data. But the formatting of the floppy might make a difference? Do you know if these floppies were originally intended for Windows or Mac machines? Can they just mount directly in Windows 10 via the USB floppy drive? What type of image and settings are you using in WinImage or FTK Imager to try to capture them?

Zips are also interesting, I have never worked with them directly so I am actually not sure whether in emulation they can be treated as “Floppies” or if they have to be treated more like a generic block storage device, like a hard drive or thumb drive. That would affect how to properly import and mount them in EaaS. I’ll follow up on that point but I hope/wonder if anyone else in this forum may have more direct experience with imaging Zips. And again, exactly which program and settings have you been trying to make images from them?

Lastly, in general I am unfortunately most familiar with Linux imaging programs that can be used to create raw disk images for block storage devices like floppies, disk drives, thumb drives (and I assume, Zip): dd, ddrescue, Guymager. (There’s also @johanvanderknijff’s diskimgr program that creates a simple interface for the command-line programs dd and ddrescue, which I find very handy) However I am not sure whether any of these can be run directly in Windows 10 using, for instance, the Windows Subsystem for Linux. There may very well just be Windows ports or versions of those programs that would be helpful here. I’ll investigate this as well. (@ecochrane works more in Windows than I do - perhaps he has ideas)

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In addition to the answer by @ethan.gates, seeing you’re using a Windows-based system you might also want to check out IsoBuster, which can handle most (and probably all) of the media types you mention. You would need to buy a license for it, but they’re really cheap (you can also run it in freeware mode, but this limits some of the functionality). We’re currently using it operationally at the National Library of the Netherlands within our large-scale workflow for imaging optical media.

Since Ethan mentioned diskimgr (of which I’m the developer), for optical media the related omimgr would be a better choice. But both of these tools are Linux-only, and I’m not sure they work within the Windows Subsystem for Linux. If I recall correctly WSL doesn’t run GUI-based software (but I might be wrong here, as I’ve never used WSL myself).

UPDATE - after posting I now see I overlooked @ethan.gates mention of IsoBuster, sorry for that!

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I have also found RawWrite for Windows, which seems potentially useful here for the floppies?

And the same person/site does indeed maintain a Windows port of dd, which, again could be yet another option. (this package also seems to be installable via Chocolatey, if one wants to use a package manager for your Windows command-line programs; e.g. > choco install dd

(for the record - installing GUI-based Linux software on Windows via the WSL is possible, but I did just try it specifically with omimgr and diskimgr, and it’s still a bit hacky and the programs did not seem able to “see” USB storage devices like an external floppy or CD-ROM drive. so that unfortunately does seem to remove that as an option, but thanks for chiming in, Johan! Proper, native Linux GUI app support in the WSL appears to be on Microsoft’s roadmap but not yet fully integrated into Win10)

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Wow! Thanks so much @ethan.gates and @johanvanderknijff

There is a lot there for me to look into and absorb.

You are correct Ethan there are multiple questions here to look at. I haven’t actually tried CD-ROMs yet, but was hoping to get ahead of that in case I need to. What I was trying was both IBM and Windows formatted 3.5 floppy disks and in some cases the disks were able to be read in Windows 10, but in other cases they were not but I know they had data on them. Funny you mention E01, as that is what was produced. I’m learning quickly this can be a complex step in the process, creating the floppy image in the first place, but it is a necessary step I need to learn if I am to be able to bring the at risk collection items into EaaS to inspect. As for settings, I don’t know what settings I should be using so I was just using the default settings.

As for ZIP discs, I actually had success opening the Windows formatted ones and retrieving the files directly, so no imaging required. In this case that was fine as there were only a few files in there. However, if there were more files, a disk image is a far more efficient way to grab a large group of files in one go to load into EaaS. I just need to work out how to actually make a working version of one.

I haven’t spent much time with Linux enough to understand how to use it. Yet another subject I need time to learn.

Thanks,
Tim

Hi all - UPDATE:

I had some success last week. I managed to work out how to use WinImage Version 10.00 to make image files out of files on my desktop and successfully import them into a working environment and be able to be read. I also discovered ImgBurn is a great piece of software for making an ISO of a group of files and they seem to work fine in EaaS in my emulated environments. So it is progress.

In another issue entirely though I keep running into the issue that a few pieces of software want to run in a higher resolution and colour gamut than the VGA 16-colours that is set on the various stacks I have in my instance of EaaS running QEMU 2.11. I tried later versions of QEMU but 2.11 so far seems to be the most stable for creating windows-based PC environments. A minor annoyance, but otherwise, am pleased with the help I have received so far.

thanks,
Tim

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Hi Tim,

Great to hear you’ve made some progress!

The available desktop resolution/colo(u)r gamut in Windows depends on the graphics card configured in the emulator and the driver you have installed for it.

I’m not sure if we’ve published guidance specifying those combinations and e.g. where to find the drivers but I suspect @ethan.gates might be able to point you to something.

Best,

Euan

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Hi @tim.mifsud - since you seem to have made progress/success with the imaging programs mentioned (WinImage and ImgBurn), I’m marking that for now as a solution to the original question and threaded the VGA/display driver question into a new topic, if that’s all right. We can re-open the imaging discussion at any point if you run into issues again! But please follow to the new linked thread for a longer response there.

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If a USB 3.5 inch drive were adequate to image 3.5 inch disks such that they can be used in emulation, then why are we fiddling around with this Kryoflux?

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Tim, I also have a lot of equipment here in the Digital Heritage Lab at Swinburne University of Technology to image 3.5 and 5.25 inch disks. Glad to help out.

Kryoflux, Applesauce, plus real equipment to use for testing.

Cynde

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Many thanks Cynde. I am particularly interested in your Applesauce as we have a few Mac based disks that I cannot read in the 3.5 drive I have, but I know why, as you explained in the last SPN meeting, it is because those drives operate in a mechanically different way.

We are presently negotiating internally as to what we need to do to allow collection items off-site, so we can keep you posted on that. We have also had a similar offer from the National Library of Australia to try using their Kryoflux, as well as a much older hardware Mac they have up and running. Again, we are working out the logistics of taking collection material off-site (from a physical control and legal perspective, under the Archives Act or any agreements with depositors from our personal records collections).

Tim

Hi Tim - I know moving items offsite is a big deal. The Applesauce is pretty sturdy and portable, perhaps I could come up there sometime. It is also fairly inexpensive at around $350.

John Keoni Morris, its maker, has also added the ability to read Commodore 64 disks, which have their own funny encoding. I think it will do some IBM / MFM stuff now too.

It’s a really nice tool. I’m just about to image a bunch of Apple 3.5 inch disks right now using it. We’ll see how it goes.

Cynde

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I admit that was an over-simplification on my part - there are lots of reasons why one might need the raw flux-level or the sector/format-based imaging offered by controllers like the Kryoflux, Applesauce, or FluxEngine (Mac floppy hardware behaved differently; non-standard encodings, or much of any file system beyond FAT; damaged or especially old/fragile disks; hardware-based DRM; etc etc). However, it’s my opinion that there can be a tendency in archives to *over- recommend that hardware or imply that it is always necessary to get usable or even preservation-level floppy disk images. Particularly when it comes to late-stage, FAT-formatted 3.5" floppies, of which there are [thousands? millions?], I’ve had cheap tools like a USB floppy drive + software write blocking and free imaging tools like dd, WinImage, etc. do the trick fine for producing an emulate-able image, so I like to get more info about the actual disks in question and make sure the simple/cheap methods are truly not an option before moving on to a controller.

(Full disclosure - I’ve also had directly bad experience with the Kryoflux/Software Preservation Society guys, including but not limited to 1) the time they actively refused to fill out a brief vendor form so that I could purchase their very expensive 5.25" “flippy” disk equipment for NYU, and 2) the time they wrote me a rude and disparaging email for asking a question to clarify a setup point in their quickstart manual. So - I don’t like working with them or recommending the Kryoflux. The AppleSauce project, on the other hand, is far more intriguing, and I wish it had been around and capable of imaging Commodore and IBM/MFM disks 5-6 years ago, when I needed that!)

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