Floppy Drive Editorial Response

A few people have emailed me, some with some helpful information… so I’ll post it here.

Let me answer these emails by saying that I know there are alternatives… there are USB floppy drives (which have varied compatibility based on your motherboard), CD-RW and the like.  One reader pointed out that I should use CD-RWs for my images instead of wasting coasters…  Here’s a response from Marc:

“Why do you have so many coasters—ever hear of CD-RWs?  That’s what I use; I haven’t used a floppy drive in 3 years now.  My RAID controller, fortunately, fakes itself as a regular ATAPI drive.  When some POS program decides it needs a floppy, I break out a virtual floppy drive software program, let whatever it is install itself on that, and then read that into an image that I burn to a CDRW.”

This may be true, but since most people use DVDs nowadays, CD-Rs are in short supply around my house, especially the much slower CD-RWs.  Why would I create a CD-RW that takes twice as long to burn when I’m in a hurry? (the only time I’m creating bootable images is because I have to update a bios or something).  The word “coaster” is used as an image that doesn’t work.  Burning a CD-RW 3 times is just as pointless as wasting 3 CD-Rs when we shouldn’t have to do this workaround in the first place.

But that isn’t even the issue.  The main reason I’m forced to use a floppy is because of SATA drives not being recognized by Windows XP’s supplied drivers.  Some RAID controllers do “fake” themselves as regular ATAPI drives, but not all.  I’ve had some motherboards that are completely trouble free because they show up in POST. 

One helpful reader named Paul pointed me to a thread that discusses this issue:

I’m sure there is some little nuance I didn’t cover in the article, and people can point these out all day, smugly thinking they’re somehow smarter having said it.  The problem is the industry’s reliance on the floppy drive.  You may not actually be using a floppy, but you are doing all sorts of things to TRICK your computer into thinking a floppy is installed. 
My point is there should be a better solution by now.
Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.