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6. Hardware support

6.1 Supported tape drives

All drives that are both QIC-117 compatible and one of the QIC-40, 80, 3010, and 3020 standards should work. QIC-WIDE and Travan drives are also supported (TR-1 is just QIC-80 with 8mm tapes, while TR-2 and TR-3 is a.k.a QIC-3010 and 3020 respectively). Iomega Ditto 2GB and Ditto Max drives are supported, too, though they no longer conform to the QIC standards in every respect. Some parallel port tape drives are supported as well.

Some of the comments given below about possible problems with certain tape drives are very old, and I don't have access to all of the hardware, so I couldn't check everything.

Some of the reports below have been commented by me (<>) like this:

This is a comment.

Currently, the list of drives that are known to work with ftape is:

Alloy Retriever 250

Archive 5580i, XL9250i

Colorado DJ-10, DJ-20 (aka: Jumbo 120, Jumbo 250)

Colorado 1400

<> reported a problem doing a 1G backup using taper.

Colorado Trakker parallel port tape drive

Support added by Jochen Hoenicke <Jochen.Hoenicke@Informatik.Uni-Oldenburg.DE>.

HP Colorado T1000

The problem reports are probably totally out-dated. In particular, the zftape the people talk about doesn't exist any more, and the ftape driver is the very ftape-2.08.

Works with 3M Travan 400M (TR-1) tapes with 120M tapes. Also reported that mt dies, but with backups using tar it works ok. With cpio, ftape is recommended rather than zftape. (<>)

Problems have been reported with the drive continually stopping and starting with zftape (<>). This appears to be a problem with the tape going too fast for the computer; the DMA buffers are getting flushed before getting filled again. Newer versions of zftape don't do this any more is a suitably fast backup program or large DMA buffers are used (<>).

Conner C250MQ(T)

The 250Q is reported to generate write error and frequent repositioning. (Frank Stuess at Nacamar Data Communications)

Write errors need not be caused by the tape drive, but also by bad tape cartridges. Frequent repositioning can be caused by bad cartridges, too, but can also be caused by overrun errors which would indicate that the FDC and DMA controller have problems to talk to each other.

Conner TSM420R, TSM850R

The 400 and 800 models only work with TR-1 tapes.

I don't know whether it was meant that named drives doesn't work with ordinary 120MB DC-2120 cartridges, or that TR-3 tapes can't be read. The tape drives weren't designed for the latter. So what.

Conner TST3200R

Works with TR-3 tapes at 1Mbps (ie. 1600M capacity only). Wirks with QIC-WIDE 400M tapes (Sony 5122's?) (<>). Works with TR3, QIC-3010, and QIC-3020 tapes. Comes with a 2MB FDC which the Promise 2300+ 1Mbps controller works (<>).

Reported that the floppy disk can no longer read low-density floppies. May have to fiddle with IRQ/ports/dma channels (<>).

The TST3200R works well with ftape.

Conner TST800R

The TST800R works with TR-1, Sony QW5122F (210M) and DC2120 tapes.

Works well with ftape since ftape-2.07 at least. Used it myself until the drive died with a melted transistor. Probably caused by over-heating it previously.

Conner CTT3200

The CTT3200 is supposedly identical to the Iomega Ditto 3200. It works with the supplied 2Mbps controller, but reported not to work under DOS on some machines. (<>)

Conner 1.7G Tapestor (TSM1700R)

Works with QIC-WIDE tapes (<>). Partially works with QIS-3200. Using the HSC-2 controller, the DMA channel needs to be changed (incremented by 1, channel2?, Modify the Makefile). You then need to modify the ftape Makefile to reflect this change. However, ftape seems to be a bit flaky with this (no version number supplied) (<>). It may not work at 2Mbps (QIC-3020) with the HSC controller. The tape died with a messages like "dumb tape stop" and has since been unreliable (<>).

No recent informations available

Escom or Archive (Hornet) 31250Q

Exabyte EXB-1500

Work with QIC-3010 tapes.

Exabyte TR-3

Irwin 80SX, Insight 80Mb

Iomega 250

Iomega Ditto Tape Insider 420, 1700

Iomega Ditto Tape Insider 3200

This is the unit, that I use. The default jumper settings don't work. Leave the irq and ioport address at the default (6 and 0x370, respectfully), but change the DMA from 3 to 2. (Kevin Johnson <>).

Refer to the file MCONFIG of recent ftape distributions for other suggestions for ioport, irq and DMA channel.

May require the having {0x08882, 80, wake_up_colorado, "Iomega 3200"}, added to vendors.h on older versions of ftape.

Problems reported with ftape 2.07 and kernel 1.12.13. With all sorts of combinations of accelerator, etc, the drive may (on some systems) only be accessed once (<>). Also, after the first access, the next use of the tape says it is write protected (<>, <>).

There has been one report of a problem where the tape got wound off the end of the spool.

This may be caused by a dirty EOT sensor, and need not be a real hardware bug (except when it was a bug that dirtied the EOT sensor ...)

Another problem has been reported with writing archives (with dd) to the tape. It may start fine, but when the driver catches up with dd, it stops the tape and rewinds it to the beginning. Then it starts winding on through the tape ad infinitum. It appears to occur when the driver asks the tape to pause which should cause the tape to move back by 3 segments, but instead is moves back to the beginning of the tape. A bug fix submitted is reported to not solve the problem.

Should have been fixed somewhere between ftape-3.00 and ftape-4.00. Unluckily, the fast-skipping facilities of all Iomega floppy tape drives are really poor. Recent ftape versions work around this problem. I suggest getting the latest version of the ftape driver when you experience this problem.

Iomega Ditto 800 Insider

Works with Travan TR1, TR2, or DC2120 tapes (<>).

Iomega Ditto 2GB

Support added by Jochen Hoenicke <Jochen.Hoenicke@Informatik.Uni-Oldenburg.DE> to ftape-3.xx and later.

Can't format cartridges, writing is only possible with special Ditto 2GB cartridges (hardware limitation, not a lacking feature of ftape).

Iomega Ditto Max

Iomega Ditto Max Pro

Supported since ftape-4.00. Thanks to Tim Jones <>.

Can't format cartridges, writing is only possible with special Ditto Max cartridges (hardware limitation, not a lacking feature of ftape)

I wasn't able to get the Ditto Max to work with any other device than /dev/[n]qft0. I don't know whether this is a feature of the Ditto Max or the Ditto EZ controller I had plugged the Ditto Max into.


You don't need to buy a Ditto Max Pro to use the 5/10GB cartridges. With ftape there is no real difference between the Ditto Max and the Ditto Max Pro.

Iomega Ditto 800/3200/2GB/Max/Max Pro Easy (parallel port)

Supported since ftape-4.00 with the bpck-fdc FDC driver.

Mountain FS8000

Reveal TB1400

Reported not to work with kernel 1.3.79 and ftape (no version given) or with kernel 1.2.13 and zftape 1.04 (<>).

The mentioned ftape driver versions are out of date. If you still have such a beast try the more recent versions of the ftape driver.

Summit SE 150, SE 250

Tallgrass FS300

If you have a Tallgrass FS300 and an AHA1542B, you need to increase the bus-on / bus-off time of the 1542B. Antti Virjo (<>), says that changing CMD_BUSON_TIME to 4 and CMD_BUSOFF_CMD to 12 in linux/drivers/scsi/aha1542.c will do the trick.

Teac 800

Memorex tape drive backup system

Wangtek 3040F, 3080F

You can always check out the newest list of drives that are recognised by ftape, by looking in the file vendors.h in the ftape distribution.

Although I do not want to endorse one drive type over another, it has been reported that the Colorado DJ-20 drive is rather noisy, when compared to, say, a Conner C250MQ drive ('tis said that the Colorado is 5-10 times as noisy as the Conner drive. Since I have neither, I can't tell for sure).

If you have a drive that works fine, but it is not listed here, or if you have corrections to the above information, please send a mail to the HOWTO maintainer (<>).

6.2 Supported special controllers

These dedicated high-speed tape controllers are supported by ftape:

Colorado FC-10, FC-20

Support for the FC-10 controller has been merged into the ftape driver in version 1.12. See the RELEASE-NOTES and the Makefile files in the ftape distribution. Since of version 2.03 of ftape, the FC-20 controller will work, but only at 1Mbit/sec (check the Release notes!).

Mountain MACH-2

The support for the MACH-2 controller was added in ftape-1.14d.

Iomega Tape Accelerator II

To use the Iomega Tape Accelerator II (not to be mistaken as the Iomega Ditto Dash!), use -DMACH2, and set the right settings for I/O base, IRQ and DMA. This works (by the empirical testing of Scott Bailey <>), with at least ftape-2.02.

Iomega Ditto Dash and other 2Mbps controllers

The Iomega Ditto Dash, and all other known 2Mbps controllers, use the Intel 82078-1 chip, which can run at 2Mbps. This is supported properly since ftape-3.00.

Iomega Ditto EZ PnP controller

This controller requires the use of e.g. the isapnptools package to configure it. You may get it from

The controller will cause too many overrun errors when used at the highest possible speed of 4Mbps. Neither Tim Jones <> nor I <> have been able to find but a single system which could run the controller at 4Mbps. 3Mbps seems to be fine.

If you configure the Ditto EZ to use DMA 2 (the DMA channel used by the floppy controller) then your floppy drive will no longer work. It doesn't help to disable the controllers DMA gate (as is the case with other hight speed controllers) so this can't be helped from inside ftape.

6.3 Unsupported tape drives

The Irwin AX250L (and the IBM Internal Tape Backup Unit) does not work the ftape. This is because they only support QIC-117, but not the QIC-80 standard (they use Irwin's proprietary ``servoe (Rhomat)'' format). I know nothing about the Rhomat format, nor where to get any info on it. Sorry.

The COREtape light does not accept the initialisation commands, we're feeding it. This pretty much leaves the drive unusable.

6.4 Using an external tape drive with ftape

If you have a floppy controller which has a female DB37 connector on the bracket (and some means of delivering power to the drive), you can use it with ftape. OK, that sentence was not very obvious. Let's try it this way: Some FDC's (the very ancient one's), have a DB37 connector on the bracket, for connecting to external floppy drives.

If you make a suitable cable from the DB37 connector (on the FDC) to your external tape drive, you can get ftape to control your tape drive.

This is because that from a program's view there is no difference between the internal and the external connectors. So, from ftape's point of view, they are identical.

The power connector is of the "mini" type, sitting on 3.5" floppy drives. The idea appears to be that you plug one of the power connectors from the PSU to this connector on the board. If you want to use just a single cable, you might want to get a 50 wire cable, and use multiple wires for the power lines (and ground, for that matter).

I have received no confirmation from anyone that this works. Let me know your results if you try it.

6.5 PCI motherboards and ftape

Unfortunately, some PCI motherboards cause problems when running ftape. Some people have experienced that ftape would not run in a PCI based box, but ran flawlessly in a normal ISA based 386DX machine. If you have such a problem, please read the README.PCI file in the ftape distribution.

A floppy disk controller needs the ISA bus DMA controller for its memory transfers. Seemingly the ISA DMA controller doesn't get control over the memory bus often enough on some PCI based systems.

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