[PARPORT] [ANNOUNCE] ftape-4.x-beta-7, featuring parallel port drives

Claus-Justus Heine (claus@momo.math.rwth-aachen.de)
19 Jul 1998 00:39:18 +0200

I'm happy to announce the ftape-4.x-beta-7, seventh beta version of
ftape-4, is ready.

It can be downloaded from


You may want to have a look at



Parallel Port specials:

Parallel port drives supported:

- The Colorado Trakker, implemented by Jochen Hoenicke

- parallel port floppy tape drives that use Micro Solutions'
  "Backpack" interface. This should include all (?) parallel port
  drives of Iomega's Ditto product line of floppy tape drives,
  hopefully also the parallel port version of the Ditto Max and the
  Ditto 2GB (only tested with a Ditto 3200). Also, some parallel port
  floppy tape drives made by Seagate and Exabyte also use MS
  "Backpack" interface (others, too?).

Really new in this release is the support for the Backpack
interface. It has been written from scratch, based on some very useful
preliminary work already done by Grant R. Guenther
<grant@torque.net>. Actually, the protocol is very similar to the one
used in the "Backpack" CDROM drives.

IMHO the support for those kind of tape drives is complete with the
exception of the usual bugs. The driver uses the ECC coprocessor of
the parport drive and its CRC checksum facility to guarantee data

It should work with either the SPP, PS2 or EPP protocol; unluckily it
doesn't seem to work to write data blocks with 16 or 32 bit IO when
using the EPP protocol, the CRC checksum is corrupted in this case,
though the data seems to have been transferred correctly. Reading data
with EPP-32 works just fine.

General Remarks:

The syntax of the module parameters has changed slightly. The
ftape-internal interface understands the usual ft_fdc_base
etc. parameters, the parport drivers bpck-fdc.o and trakker.o both use
the same parameter syntax. Please read ftape-4.x-beta-7/ftape/README.

It is now possible to specify a list of desired drivers for a specific
ftape device, i.e.

insmod ftape.o ft_fdc_driver=ftape-internal,trakker:bpck-fdc

will try to use either the Trakker module or the Backpack module when
accessing /dev/nqft1.

Per default ftape tries all loaded drivers when no parameters were
given, i.e. when accessing /dev/nqft2 in the above example then ftape
would try to use either ftape-internal, trakker or bpck-fdc.

Unplugging parallel port devices should work; if you unplug a device
during tape operation then it may take a little time until ftape
recognizes. Next time when accessing the tape device ftape will call
the hardware detection routines again to determine if the tape drive
has been connected again.

Please have a look at the file


which shows how the modules can be loaded.

Besides the support for the Backpack drives there is hardly anything
new. I hope that I can release a version of ftape that I consider
"stable" by the end of July, beginning of August, maybe end of August.
Next thing that I want to do is to have a look at the ftape mailing
list, I must admit that I didn't do that for quite some time now.

TODO for the release of ftape-4:

- write a user level decompression tool to read old compressed
  archives, as the compression support has vanished.

- do extensive testing

- try to format a cartridge with the parallel port Ditto 3200 (untested,
  but should work)

- Remove uneccessary debugging output.

- Update the ftape manual. Maybe convert it to SGML and call it HOWTO.

- Move ftape-4.x into the kernel. Shouldn't be difficult. Write
  configuration scripts.

- Handle mailing list backlog to learn about existing bugs.

- improve the ftape-tools package.



  Claus-Justus Heine             

PGP Public Key: http://www-math.math.rwth-aachen.de/~LBFM/claus/claus-public-key.asc

Ftape - the Linux Floppy Tape Project WWW : http://www-math.math.rwth-aachen.de/~LBFM/claus/ftape Mailing-list: linux-tape@vger.rutgers.edu

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