superformat(1) General Commands Manual superformat(1)
superformat - format floppies
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superformat [-D dos-drive] [-v verbosity-level] [-b begin-track]
[-e end-track] [--superverify] [--dosverify]
[--noverify] [--verify_later] [--zero-based]
[-G format-gap] [-F final-gap] [-i interleave] [-c chunksize]
[-g gap] [--absolute-skew absolute-skew] [--head-skew head-skew]
[--track-skew track-skew] [--biggest-last] drive [media-description]
superformat is used to format disks with a capacity of up to 1992K HD
or 3984K ED. See section Extended formats, for a detailed description
of these formats. See section Media description, for a detailed
description of the syntax for the media description. If no media
description is given, superformat formats a disk in the highest avail-
able density for that drive, using standard parameters (i.e. no extra
When the disk is formatted, superformat automatically invokes mformat
in order to put an MS-DOS filesystem on it. You may ignore this
filesystem, if you don't need it.
Superformat allows one to format 2m formats. Be aware, however, that
these 2m formats were specifically designed to hold an MS-DOS filesys-
tem, and that they take advantage of the fact that the MS-DOS filesys-
tem uses redundant sectors on the first track (the FAT, which is repre-
sented twice). The second copy of the FAT is not represented on the
High capacity formats are sensitive to the exact rotation speed of the
drive and the resulting difference in raw capacity. That's why super-
format performs a measurement of the disks raw capacity before proceed-
ing with the formatting. This measurement is rather time consuming,
and can be avoided by storing the relative deviation of the drive
capacity into the drive definition file file. See section Drive
descriptions, for more details on this file. The line to be inserted
into the drive definition file is printed by superformat after perform-
ing its measurement. However, this line depends on the drive and the
controller. Do not copy it to other computers. Remove it before
installing another drive or upgrade your floppy controller. Swap the
drive numbers if you swap the drives in your computer.
Many options have a long and a short form.
--help Print the help.
Selects DOS drive letter for mformat (for example a: or b:).
The colon may be omitted. The default is derived from the minor
device number. If the drive letter cannot be guessed, and is
not given on the command line, mformat is skipped.
Sets the verbosity level. 1 prints a dot for each formatted
track. 2 prints a changing sign for each formatted track (- for
formatting the first head, = for formatting the second head, x
for verifying the first head, and + for verifying the second
head). 3 prints a complete line listing head and track. 6 and 9
print debugging information.
Verifies the disk by first reading the track, than writing a
pattern of U's, and then reading it again. This is useful as
some errors only show up after the disk has once been written.
However, this is also slower.
Verifies the disk using the mbadblocks program. mbadblocks
marks the bad sectors as bad in the FAT. The advantage of this
is that disks which are only partially bad can still be used for
Verifies the whole disk at the end of the formatting process
instead of at each track. Verifying the disk at each track has
the advantage of detecting errors early on.
Skips the verification altogether.
Does not format, but prints the drive deviation. If file
/etc/driveprm exists and provides a deviation for the drive,
nothing is printed and the disk is not formatted.
Usually, superformat uses sensible default values for these options,
which you normally don't need to override. They are intended for
expert users. Most of them should only be needed in cases where the
hardware or superformat itself has bugs.
Describes the track where to begin formatting. This is useful
if the previous formatting failed halfway through. The default
Describes where to stop formatting. end_track is the last track
to be formatted plus one. This is mainly useful for testing pur-
poses. By default, this is the same as the total number of
tracks. When the formatting stops, the final skew is displayed
(to be used as absolute skew when you'll continue).
Set the sector size to be used. The sector size is 128 * (2 ^
sizecode). Sector sizes below 512 bytes are not supported, thus
sizecode must be at least 2. By default 512 is assumed, unless
you ask for more sectors than would fit with 512 bytes.
Set the stretch factor. The stretch factor describes how many
physical tracks to skip to get to the next logical track (2 ^
stretch). On double density 5 1/4 disks, the tracks are further
apart from each other.
Set the formatting gap. The formatting gap tells how far the
sectors are away from each other. By default, this is chosen so
as to evenly distribute the sectors along the track.
Set the formatting gap to be used after the last sector.
Set the sector interleave factor.
Set the size of the chunks. The chunks are small auxiliary sec-
tors used during formatting. They are used to handle heteroge-
neous sector sizes (i.e. not all sectors have the same size) and
negative formatting gaps.
For MSS formats, make sure that the biggest sector is last on
the track. This makes the format more reliable on drives which
are out of spec.
Formats the disk with sector numbers starting at 0, rather than
1. Certain CP/M boxes or Music synthesizers use this format.
Those disks can currently not be read/written to by the standard
Linux read/write API; you have to use fdrawcmd to access them.
As disk verifying is done by this API, verifying is automati-
cally switched off when formatting zero-based.
Sector skewing options
In order to maximize the user data transfer rate, the sectors are
arranged in such a way that sector 1 of the new track/head comes under
the head at the very moment when the drive is ready to read from that
track, after having read the previous track. Thus the first sector of
the second track is not necessarily near the first sector of the first
track. The skew value describes for each track how far sector number 1
is away from the index mark. This skew value changes for each head and
track. The amount of this change depends on how fast the disk spins,
and on how much time is needed to change the head or the track.
Set the absolute skew. This skew value is used for the first
formatted track. It is expressed in raw bytes.
Set the head skew. This is the skew added for passing from head
0 to head 1. It is expressed in raw bytes.
Set the track skew. This is the skew added for seeking to the
next track. It is expressed in raw bytes.
Example: (absolute skew=3, head skew=1, track skew=2)
track 0 head 0: 4,5,6,1,2,3 (skew=3)
track 0 head 1: 3,4,5,6,1,2 (skew=4)
track 1 head 0: 1,2,3,4,5,6 (skew=0)
track 1 head 1: 6,1,2,3,4,5 (skew=1)
track 2 head 0: 4,5,6,1,2,3 (skew=3)
track 2 head 1: 3,4,5,6,1,2 (skew=4)
N.B. For simplicity's sake, this example expresses skews in units of
sectors. In reality, superformat expects the skews to be expressed in
Please see the Media description section in the full fdutils documenta-
- Texinfo documentation (info fdutils)
- HTML documentation in /usr/share/doc/fdutils/Fdutils.html
- or DVI documentation in /usr/share/doc/fdutils/Fdutils.dvi.gz
In all the examples of this section, we assume that drive 0 is a 3 1/2
and drive 1 a 5 1/4.
The following example shows how to format a 1440K disk in drive 0:
superformat /dev/fd0 hd
The following example shows how to format a 1200K disk in drive 1:
superformat /dev/fd1 hd
The following example shows how to format a 1440K disk in drive 1:
superformat /dev/fd1 hd sect=18
The following example shows how to format a 720K disk in drive 0:
superformat /dev/fd0 dd
The following example shows how to format a 1743K disk in drive 0 (83
cylinders times 21 sectors):
superformat /dev/fd0 sect=21 cyl=83
The following example shows how to format a 1992K disk in drive 0 (83
cylinders times 2 heads times 12 KB per track)
superformat /dev/fd0 tracksize=12KB cyl=83 mss
The following example shows how to format a 1840K disk in drive 0. It
will have 5 2048-byte sectors, one 1024-byte sector, and one 512-byte
sector per track:
superformat /dev/fd0 tracksize=23b mss 2m ssize=2KB
All these formats can be autodetected by mtools, using the floppy
driver's default settings.
FDC busy, sleeping for a second
When another program accesses a disk drive on the same con-
troller as the one being formatted, superformat has to wait
until the other access is finished. If this happens, check
whether any other program accesses a drive (or whether a drive
is mounted), kill that program (or unmount the drive), and the
format should proceed normally.
I/O errors during verification
Your drive may be too far out of tolerance, and you may thus
need to supply a margin parameter. Run floppymeter (see section
floppymeter) to find out an appropriate value for this parame-
ter, and add the suggested margin parameter to the command line
Opening up new window while superformat is running produces overrun
errors. These errors are benign, as the failed operation is automati-
cally retried until it succeeds.
Fdutils' texinfo doc
fdutils-5.5 03Mar05 superformat(1)
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