Iomega Zip drive with Linux (temp FAQ)
Last-Modified: Wed Aug 30 1995
Changes: Changed Subject to place this closer to other Zip topics.
Added that there is no write protection.
Subject: 1. Express Summary
The SCSI version of the Iomega Zip drive does work with Linux SCSI drivers.
The Zip drive has two 25-pin Apple Mac style connectors, so you will need
a cable which has your type of SCSI external connector and an Apple Mac
male connector. Switches allow for termination and SCSI IDs 5 and 6.
The Parallel Port version of the Zip drive does NOT work with Linux
except under DOSEMU.
Subject: 2. Introduction and Intent
Several Linux newsgroups are getting repeated queries about whether the
new Zip drive from Iomega works with Linux. This is a temporary FAQ to
repeatedly answer those questions more efficiently and quickly.
Subject: 3. Table of Contents
1. Express Summary
2. Introduction and Intent
3. Table of Contents
4. Which version of the Iomega Zip drive?
5. What is the capacity of a disk?
6. How to install a drive on Linux?
7. Can I boot from a Zip drive?
Subject: 4. Which version of the Iomega Zip drive?
Two versions of the Zip drive are being sold in three different packages:
A. Zip Drive with Parallel Port (ONLY FOR USE WITH DOSEMU)
B. Zip Drive with SCSI interface for MS-DOS
C. Zip Drive with SCSI interface for Apple Mac
Parallel Port: Linux does not have a parallel port driver for the Zip drive.
So DOS programs can access a parallel port drive, but not Linux.
byron says he compiled a kernel with no LP support, configured DOSEMU
to use 0x378-0x37A for LP1, then ran the guest driver program to run
\scsi\install from the Zip tools disk.
SCSI Interface: Either the MS-DOS or Apple Mac packages will work with
Linux. The Apple package includes a Mac style interface cable. I
have not seen the DOS packaging, but suspect it has a Mac to mini-SCSI
cable to fit the separately available Zip Zoom interface card. The Mac
package includes floppies with both Mac and MS-Windows/MS-DOS drivers.
Several people have pointed out that a SCSI Zip drive does not supply
termination power. This means that Parallel-to-SCSI interfaces which
require that power will not work with a Zip drive alone. (There aren't
Linux drivers for such interfaces either.)
If you need DOS or Mac tools, they're both on the Zip disk which is included
with all versions of the drive. Yup, that's what the "starter disk" is.
Subject: 5. What is the capacity of a disk?
A Zip disk apparently holds 100 million characters, or bytes.
However, computer technicians define 1 Megabyte (MB) as 1,048,576 bytes,
so the capacity of a Zip disk is also 94.1 Megabytes.
The above is the uncompressed capacity. You can store files which are
compressed with a program such as gzip, or try the DouBLe compressed
file system. The latter involves a kernel patch and is beyond the
scope of this document.
Subject: 6. How to install a drive on Linux?
If you currently are not using SCSI, see the SCSI HOWTO. You'll need a
Linux kernel configured with SCSI support for your type of SCSI interface
card ("host adapter").
If you want to use the separately available "Zip Zoom" card, you just
have to know it is a low-end SCSI card which is compatible with the
Adaptec 1522 card. With LILO and a kernel with support for AHA152x, the
configuration can be adjusted with a line such as:
If you installed a new kernel, remember to run /etc/install/lilo or however
you prepare to boot a new kernel.
Run shutdown and power down your machine; you should change SCSI cable
connections with the power off.
Connect your cable to the connector closest to the * feet and to
your SCSI bus. Flip the switch for SCSI ID 5 or 6. If only the one cable
is connected to the drive, turn on the termination switch.
Plug in the external power supply to the "side" of the drive with the *
feet, run the cable in the groove, and plug in the large transformer.
Check that the green power light is on.
Start your Linux machine. An error message about an unavailable SCSI
device will appear during startup; this is OK when you don't have a disk
in the drive. (Yes, you can start with a disk in the drive; I'm just
trying to follow Iomega's non-Linux procedures at this point.)
Insert a Zip disk in the drive. Doesn't matter if it is DOS or Mac if
you intend to reformat it for Linux.
As root, run /sbin/fdisk on the device which the Zip drive is on (/dev/sdb,
perhaps). If in doubt try "/sbin/fdisk -l", which lists the configuration
of several common drives. With fdisk you can check the present configuration
of the disk or format it as "Linux native" if you intend to use it as an
If the disk is formatted for an ext2 filesystem, initialize and make available:
mount -text2 /dev/sdb1 /mnt
(/dev/sdb1 is the first partition on /dev/sdb)
Other filesystem types can be mounted in similar ways.
Before ejecting a disk, remember to "umount /mnt" first.
Note that under Linux there is no hardware write protection for the Zip.
Use the standard UNIX filesystem permissions.
Subject: 7. Can I boot from a Zip drive?
Probably not. Some SCSI host adapters will only boot from SCSI ID 0 or 1,
which are not available on the Zip drive. People have also reported other
difficulties. You may be able to put LILO/LOADLIN on a bootable
device such as a floppy or a different hard drive and point it at the
Zip drive; in this case the kernel will probably be in /boot on the
boot device while the rest of the root filesystem would be on the Zip drive.
It's not something for which a turnkey configuration has been produced,
but if you know how to make it work then you don't really need this note.
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