Sun <-> MSDOS summary of responses: Thank you everyone.

From: Brendan Scott (
Date: Tue Nov 05 1991 - 22:44:26 CST

Here is a summary of responses that I have received to my request
for info about writing MSDOS disks on a Sun workstation.
I have not yet gone hunting, or testing any of these (I didn't
expect to get such a response so quickly!) There are apparently
two ways of doing this: the first is to upgrade to Sun OS 4.1.1,
and the second is to get hold of a PD program by the name of
mtools. From the responses that I have received it seems that
even if you have 4.1.1, you still need root access for this to
be applicable. What follows is a (slightly) edited transcript of
the responses that I have received. Thank you everybody who
contributed. I started trying to mail individual replies, but
too many began bouncing, so I gave up :-(

(Names have been omitted to protect the guilty).

First the concise ones:

> FTP to [] pub/mtools.tar.Z

This is in Australia. Users from O.S. should look up archie for
a site nearer to them.

> Location: /pub/misc
> FILE -rw-r--r-- 68323 Sep 6 18:54 mtools-2.0.5.tar.Z

(This one looks like it is in America).

Now for the discusion:

> If you have 4.1.1 you already have it.
> fdformat -d will make dos diskettes.
> mount -t pcfs will mount pc diskettes into the file system.
> After that, it's available as any other partition, with all the
> ordinary unix commands. One problem: You have to be 'root' to
> mount diskettes. There are some suid programs around to do the
> job for you. I've seen one or two without big, gaping security holes.
> The others are dangerous! I can dig out one of them if you want.

> If you don't have 4.1.1 you will have to go for 'mtools',
> a PD package to format a dos floppy and copy to/from it.
> You can't use it as part of the file system, but you don't have to
> be root either.

>Yeah, Unix and MS-DOS have different formats, and SunOS supports both.

>You arrange for manual mounting of floppies by creating
>empty directories /floppy/unix and /floppy/msdos, adding the following
>entries to /etc/fstab:
> /dev/fd0 /floppy/msdos pcfs rw,noauto 0 0
> /dev/fd0 /floppy/unix 4.2 rw,noauto 0 0
>Unfortunately, the automounter can't mount anything but NFS filesystems,
>so the mounting has to be done manually.
>Root can create setuid programs that execute mount and umount.
>Once root has done all that, plain users ought to be able to use the
>floppies by executing the setuid programs. But gray is all theory,
>experience alone is green (to paraphrase Marx). I've never tried it.

>Remote hosts can get access to your floppies if you list the floppies
>and the remote hosts in /etc/exports, I think.

>You format Unix floppies with fdformat, MSDOS floppies with fdformat -d.

>Mounting a bogus floppy as /floppy/unix might crash the machine,
>try it and see :-)

>4.1.1 contains pcfs which renders such tools generally moot (although
>there are some exceptions).

>mtools is the name of a pd package which does such stuff.

>my understanding is that the 'mtools' package will do this for you.
>(note that i've never used said package, so i might be wrong.)
>according to archie, it's available on several ftp sites in australia,


> The package that you need is mtools.
>I am fairly sure that the source will in the anonymous-ftp area
>of . I just placed a copy of my executables and
>man pages (for a Sparc machine) in directory pub in the
>anonymous-ftp area of .
>See file pub/mtools-for-sparc.tar.Z.

>If you haven't already received dozens of messages, here is another.

>If you have SunOS and a Sparc, you have what you are looking for. Look in
>the man pages under pcfs
>The recent versions of SunOS already do this as a built-in feature.
>One can even mount the PC file system under Unix, treating the MSDOS
>files as normal Unix files.
>The best solution is therefor to ungrade to SunOS 4.1.1 .
>There is also a PD package called 'mtools' that will allow one to read
>and write msdos disks. This solution isn't transparent though.
>I know of 2 solutions to this problem.
>1) SunOS4.1.1 supports PC filesystems (man pcfs) but you must be root to
> mount filesystems, or create tool to mount/eject it for you.
> If you want them I can send you a copy of the sources.
>2) I have heard of (but not tried) a product called mtool or mtools. If you
> find it let me know where.
>The most current version of mtools, as of Jan 91, is 2.0.3 and is
>available via anonymous ftp from The release includes
>man pages.
>From the mtool "Readme" file:
|Mtools is a public domain collection of programs to allow Unix systems to
|read, write, and manipulate files on an MSDOS filesystem (typically a

>And without any mounting of the floppy drive as a MSDOS device!

>From the mtool "Release.note" file:
.New in the v2.0 release....

| 1) Support for multiple devices. Mtools now supports:
| multiple floppy disks (A:, B:, etc)
| DOS partitions on a hard disk
| DOS "images" such as those VP/ix uses.

| 2) Wildcards are supported anywhere in a pathname (not just in the
| "filename" part as before)

| 3) Reads and writes to slow devices are now "cylinder buffered" when
| appropriate.

| 4) Versions of CD, FORMAT, LABEL, and ATTRIB have been added.

| 5) A Mtools.1 manual page has beed added for an overview of Mtools.

| 6) The mkmanifest command has been added. Although not an 'mtool'
| command, it makes life easier when fixing up Unix filenames that get
| clobbered by MSDOS file name restrictions.

| 7) The mkdfs program of the "fast-mtools" release for the Sun SparcStation
| can be replaced with mformat.

I hope that this is will help those who have requested this summary.
(I should have asked about Mac disks while I was at it. -sigh-)



#include <standard.disclaimer.h>

*Panic* is a higher state of awareness

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