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Re: [kde-linux] stop empty floppy drive announcement

Comment inline.

On Wednesday 13 November 2013 12:08:54 Duncan wrote:
> Felix Miata posted on Tue, 12 Nov 2013 16:06:27 -0500 as excerpted:
> > On 2013-11-11 23:43 (GMT-0500) Felix Miata composed:
> >> How? Every time I login, focus is stolen from Konsole's
> >> restoration by the inane popup announcing the presence of a floppy
> >> drive with no media in it.
> >
> > This is an unresolved bug with likely upstream roots if not
> > entirely: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=318061
> The root problem is one of legacy hardware (lack of) features. 
> Floppy drives are old enough they predate the hardware
> removable-media-detect feature found on, for example, optical
> (CD/DVD) devices.  The only information the BIOS makes available is
> that there's a device there, and the only way to see whether there's
> actually anything in it is to try it.
> Making problems worse, there's no media-change-detect notification

What about pin 34 "Disk change Ready" signal !

> either, so once a floppy is inserted, it can be switched out without
> anything at the software level realizing it, so if it goes to write
> to the device (or even seek to a different place in the file you had
> open for reading), for all it knows the physical media has been
> switched out and it's reading/writing an entirely different file on
> the new media now!
> The only way to be sure that isn't happening is to actually stat the
> file and compare the results to the ones from before to make sure
> it's the same thing, before each read/write access.
> And because floppy drives are so physically SLOW, that introduces a
> delay as the device is physically accessed.
> At least on CD/DVD devices, while the media-presence/change detection
> is rather crude by modern standards, it exists, and the way change
> detection is typically supported in software is by polling -- back in
> the HAL days (before udisks, as I said earlier in the thread I have
> those features disabled now and haven't followed what the current
> solution does) there was a notorious feature that polled the CD/DVD
> hardware every two seconds to be sure it hadn't changed -- it was
> crude, but because the hardware could answer without actually
> spinning up the disk to check, it was comparatively fast and normally
> happened in the background without disturbing the user.
> Unfortunately, that doesn't work for a floppy, because the device has
> to actually re-read the physical media to check whether it has
> changed, triggering an audible click and likely a UI-stall as the
> floppy spins up and the drive actually rereads the physical sector to
> see if it's the same as before.  Not only would that constant click
> every couple seconds be extremely irritating, it would wear out a
> floppy in the drive very fast (perhaps an hour or two) and would
> likely kill the drive itself within a few days.
> So that solution, while viable for CD/DVDs that retain that info in
> the hardware and can simply return it when queried every couple
> seconds, is not viable at all for floppy device hardware.
> But as I said in the first reply, the world has thankfully moved on
> and few machines have floppies any more -- or in the event that they
> do, they're often the USB attached version and thus can be physically
> unplugged unless they're actually in use.
> In my opinion, probably the best way for software like kde's device
> notification is to ignore floppies entirely.  Just skip anything that
> the BIOS reports as a floppy.  Sure, that means no notification for
> floppies at all, but floppy hardware itself is so old it simply
> wasn't designed with this sort of feature in mind in the first place,
> and it's best to just let sleeping floppies lie.  Fortunately they're
> now rare, and anybody (like Felix) who *IS* still using them is
> surely used to the limitations of the technology and can cope with
> it.
> That's better than forcing users to choose between support that is at
> best broken for floppies, and disabling auto-detect/auto-mount for
> /everything/, thus losing the feature for newer (non-floppy) hardware
> that /does/ support the feature well, or at least like CD/DVDs, can
> answer a poll in firmware without having to physically spinup the
> media.
> But... the same rarity that means few users deal with the problem
> also means few developers actually have the hardware to test with,
> either. And it's kinda hard to properly set up the floppy-ignore, if
> you don't have a floppy device to actually work with to see what you
> need to ignore, and to test to see if your proposed solution is
> actually going to work in practice or not.
> Meanwhile, Felix, don't take this the wrong way as I wouldn't presume
> to tell you that can't setup and use your systems as you like, but...
> What /is/ your actual use case for floppies?  I was thinking about it
> and trying to come up with some scenario, some use-case, where I
> might find floppies a continued viable solution, and I'm simply
> coming up dry, especially where you're not simply using legacy
> hardware that you still have, but are actually buying and attaching
> new floppy drives to any motherboards that continue to support it, on
> new installations.  I just can't see the use-case where that's
> justified.
> And even if I had a collection of existing floppies and didn't want
> to put all of the data for 1000+ of them on a $2 2-gig USB
> thumbdrive, I'd buy the USB-attached floppy-drives that I could
> plug-in when needed (and just as importantly, unplug when NOT
> needed), and thus wouldn't have to deal with the problems of an
> internally attached floppy-drive.  If you're booting from floppy,
> anything remotely new should support booting from USB-attached floppy
> as well as it does booting from direct-attached floppy, and if we're
> talking hardware that's old enough it doesn't support booting from
> USB, then it's also old enough that buying new floppy-drives and
> attaching them to it, as you said you do when you can, doesn't make
> sense either.
> I just don't see the case where either USB thumbdrives, or CD/DVD
> read/ writers (of comparable cost to floppy devices, possibly even
> cheaper since the antique-hardware tax that applies to floppy devices
> isn't as steep for CD/DVD writers yet), or worst-case, USB-attached
> floppies, doesn't make more sense than legacy mobo
> flat-cable-attached floppy- devices.

Best Regards:
             Pontefract Linux User Group.
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