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Emulation on PC question

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On Linux, you can tell your emulator your floppy image is /dev/fd0 and the emulator would treat the floppy as a disk image.


Of course the disk drive would need to support everything the ST could do, including the fancy disk formats that PC's usually struggled with.   And copy protected disks would probably not work.   So likely it would work with some disks but not all.

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I tried a couple of USB Floppy Disk drives with no luck, but then found the DELL FDDM-101 which is a laptop drive with a USB port on the side.  It seems to have less reliance on the Windows operating system for drive commands, e.g. carries it on the floppy drive itself like a desktop one would do.  Handles 720KB properly too.  Plenty around on Ebay and I got mine years ago for almost nothing.  However I mostly use my IBM Thinkpad G41 with its built-in floppy drive, and that laptop cost me £10 and I upgraded the CPU, RAM and added an SSD drive to max the specifications out.  I reserve this as a retro machine for 8 and 16 bit emulation.

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ibm? that is way back then. before Lenovo? If it had a built in floppy it was almost as good as desktop behavior. All I've ever heard on usb drives is that they dont like anything other than  720 / 1.4. Any non standard sector / track which most atari games used, didn't work. I have also never seen any hack firmware for the usb floppys. youd think there would be some if it was possible. 

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PC emulators accessing real floppy disks is possible, or at least feasible. But it is certainly not very practical, and in some cases it is even non realistic.


As some commented already, most USB floppy drives can't access ST disks formatted with, e.g., 10 sectors per track. This is a hardware limitation, not a software one. You could get higher compatibility using a PC with an old school floppy drive and a real floppy controller. But even then it won't work with most copy protections.


Accessing something like a Greaseweazle directly from an emulator is possible, although AFAIK no ST emulator actually implements something like this. But it is still would be very difficult to access the floppy in real time. It would either break many protections that require strict timing, or it will require to pause emulation to buffer an entire track.


On 11/20/2023 at 10:18 PM, 351cougar said:

I have also never seen any hack firmware for the usb floppys. youd think there would be some if it was possible. 


I think there were a couple of attempts. IIRC were people that worked at the manufacturer and published internal information that, at least in theory, made possible to access the USB floppy at a lower level. But this is not really very practical. Manufacturers use to change models and parts all the time. You could get something working with a specific model sold under certain well known brand, and then after some time the exactly same model internally is completely different and your "hack" will not work anymore.


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