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3. The preliminaries

3.1 Other sources of information

ftape version 3

ftape-3.x came with a manual of its own, which is contained in the ftape-3.04d package available from the usual places. See Getting Ftape.

ftape version 4

ftape-4.x also has a documentation package ftape-doc which is available from the usual places. This Ftape-HOWTO, however, also focusses on ftape-4.x and is meant as an entry point to the available documentation. See Getting Ftape.


The ftape-tools package (including useful utilities for ftape) comes with its own manual. See Getting Ftape.


The Ftape-FAQ is included wordly in this manual, but more recent versions may be found at

3.2 Contacts

The maintainer of the source for ftape is Claus Heine <>. He has a web page at

If you have a problem or questions about ftape, try posting to the Linux Tape mailing list (see Following the ftape development below). There also used to be a newsgroup that mirrored the mailing list traffic but it has vanished some time ago.

I use ftape (it is my sole means of backing up on my linux box :-). I hesitate to make recommendations on what hardware to buy. See the section Supported drives and Unsupported drives for a list of supported and unsupported drives.

You should try to post a summary of your problems and its solution(s), after you've got it working, even if you only got it partially working. Please also send a copy copy of your solution to the Linux Tape mailing list at <> so that it can be added to the HOWTO and/or the FAQ.

If you receive this as part of a printed distribution or on a CD-ROM, please check out the Linux Documentation home page or ftp to to see if there exists a more recent version. This could potentially save you a lot of trouble.

If you email me, please include the string ftape in the subject line. This will help ensure the mail doesn't inadvertently get buried. But preferrably you should email to the Linux Tape mailing list at <> instead of contacting me directly.

3.3 What is ftape

ftape is a driver program that controls various low-cost tape drives that connect to the floppy controller.

ftape is not a backup program as such; it is a device driver, which allows you to use the tape drive (just like the SoundBlaster 16 driver let you use your sound card) through the device files /dev/[n]qft[0-3].

ftape was originally written by Bas Laarhoven <>, with ``a little help from his friends'' to sort out the ECC (Error Correcting Code) stuff. ftape is copyrighted by Bas under the GNU General Public License, which basically says: ``go ahead and share this with the world, just don't disallow other people from copying it further''.

ftape has undergone several changes since then. While the Linux-2.0.x kernel series still contains ftape-2.08 the v2.1.x and soon the v2.2.* kernel series come with ftape-3.x (hopefully even with ftape-4.02, but this wasn't clear at the time of this writing) which differs in some points from the ftape-2.x driver. Since version 3.00 the ftape driver has been maintained by me (Claus-Justus Heine); it has been changed and improved in several respects and support for new hardware has been added.

ftape is quite stable, and has been that for some time now. It is reliable enough for critical backups (but it's always a good idea to check your backups, so you won't get a nasty surprise some day).

ftape supports drives that conform to the QIC-117 and one of the QIC-80, QIC-40, QIC-3010, and QIC-3020 standards as well as the Iomega Ditto 2GB and Ditto Max drives which no longer strictly conform to the QIC standards in all respects.

ftape can drive floppy tape drives that connect to the internal FDC as well as certain parallel port floppy tape drives.

ftape supports neither QIC-02, IDE (ATAPI), nor SCSI tape drives. SCSI drives are accessed as /dev/[n]st[0-7] and are supported by the kernel through the SCSI drivers. If you look for help on SCSI tape drives, you should read the SCSI-howto. ATAPI tape drives are supported by the kernel since 1.3.46. See section Supported drives and Unsupported drives for a list of supported and unsupported drives.

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