RE-SUMMARY of Sparc floppies and DOS and Mac

From: William F. Mitchell (
Date: Thu Feb 28 1991 - 14:19:22 CST

I posted a summary 2 hours after my original question, which asked whether
anybody knew of a way to read/write DOS or Mac floppies with the Sparc
floppy drives.

The early responses seemed to all direct me towards 4.1.1 (which I haven't
gotten yet). Since 4.1.1 includes support for PC filesystems (PCFS),
you might think that there wouldn't be an issue--just upgrade to 4.1.1, right?

Not necessarily. Yeah, 4.1.1 will deal with the DOS floppies. It can read,
write, even format DOS floppies. The problem, I am told, is that it is
a pain in the neck to use because you have to become root, edit /etc/fstab,
mount, and unmount the floppy. Moreover, the output from commands that
list directory contents are not like what you get from the DOS DIR command.

The best solution may actually be mtools, available at or It has a much more reasonable interface. I received such
high praise for mtools that I felt compelled to re-summarize.

What follows is the README from the mtools package:
--------------------------------------- -------------------------------------

                        version 2.0.0 - 8 Sep 90

Mtools is a public domain collection of programs to allow Unix systems
to read, write, and manipulate files on an MSDOS filesystem (typically a

The following MSDOS commands are emulated:

name equivalent Description
----- ---- -----------
mattrib ATTRIB change MSDOS file attribute flags
mcd CD change MSDOS directory
mcopy COPY copy MSDOS files to/from Unix
mdel DEL/ERASE delete an MSDOS file
mdir DIR display an MSDOS directory
mformat FORMAT add MSDOS filesystem to a low-level format
mlabel LABEL make an MSDOS volume label.
mmd MD/MKDIR make an MSDOS subdirectory
mrd RD/RMDIR remove an MSDOS subdirectory
mread COPY low level read (copy) an MSDOS file to Unix
mren REN/RENAME rename an existing MSDOS file
mtype TYPE display contents of an MSDOS file
mwrite COPY low level write (copy) a Unix file to MSDOS

You should be able to just close your eyes and pretend you're on an MSDOS
system. Everything should work the same... except for the added 'm' at
the beginning of each command.

I really wanted to avoid the use of a 'text' mode and a 'data' mode when
transferring files, but I couldn't find a better way. It gets rather
confusing and it's quite possible to mess up a file if you apply the
text mode when it is not appropriate (ie: to a COM or EXE file).

The pattern matching routine more closely resembles Unix than MSDOS.
For example, "*" matches all MSDOS files in lieu of "*.*".

The use of wildcards (or the '\' separator) will require the names to be
enclosed in quotes to protect them from the shell. For example:

        RIGHT: mcopy "a:*.c" .

        will copy all files on the A: disk with the extension .C to the
        current Unix directory.

        WRONG: mcopy a:*.c .

        will cause the shell to expand a:*.c in the current Unix directory
        (which is probably not what you wanted) then copy that list of
        files (if there were any) from A: to the current Unix directory.

        RIGHT: mcopy *.c a:

        will copy all files with the extension .c in the current Unix
        directory to the A: drive. (This time you *want* the shell
        the expand the *.c).

The manuals are very terse... it's assumed that the reader is already
familiar with MSDOS.

Mcopy is really a front-end to the low level Mread and Mwrite commands.

Emmet P. Gray US Army, HQ III Corps & Fort Hood
...!uunet!uiucuxc!fthood!egray Attn: AFZF-DE-ENV
fthood! Directorate of Engineering & Housing
                                        Environmental Management Office
                                        Fort Hood, TX 76544-5057
---------------------End of included Readme file---------------------------

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