Back to: Native Oberon Hardware Compatiblity List

Diskette support


ETH Native Oberon supports up to two diskette drives, a number limited by the machine hardware. The Diskette driver must be installed first, as explained below. Use the System Setup program of your machine to configure the diskette drives: location, type and capacity (only 720KB and 1.44MB media are supported). For Oberon, a diskette is a medium hosting a single file system which can be mounted just like any other FS residing in a hard disk partition. Diskette file administration is no different from hard disk file administration. FS prefixes are used in place of the conventional drive letters "A", "B", except in the Backup.Tool commands (described in Chapter2.Text). Note that, with this tool, only one diskette is accessed at a time, that is, a command must be executed to switch drives. Hence, preference should be given to the facility of mounting file systems, which makes it possible to access two physical diskettes at the same time.

Warning: Do not mix mounted diskette file operations and Backup operations.

How to install a diskette driver

Normally, a diskette driver is automatically installed when a first diskette operation is launched. Launch a Partitions.Show command to let the system display information on the diskette drives recognized. The first diskette drive is named "Diskette0", the second is named "Diskette1". If no diskette drive is listed but one is physically present, execute the following command:

Install the diskette driver. The driver is dynamically loaded. No reboot is required.

What is an Oberon-0 diskette

An Oberon-0 diskette hosts a clone of a ramdisk-based Oberon system used for configuring and installing a real, full-fledged Oberon system. Immediately after the diskette is created, label to it "Oberon-0 diskette" and with the Oberon version/release and date information. You will be able to use it as rescue diskette in case the machine can not reboot from the partition. Remember to setup the machine for booting from diskette first (System Setup program).

Oberon-0 diskette as universal rescue diskette

Any Oberon-0 diskette can serve to rescue a partition made inaccessible by the loss of the boot manager or of the MBR. With it, you can mount a partition and access its supported file system if it was not damaged. If anything is damaged, the partition and the MBR too can be restored from a backup one. When mounting an Oberon partition with modules of a version different from the ones on the diskette, do not to place its FS ahead of SYS: in the search order, or else load all the modules needed for the repair actions first.

Oberon boot diskette

Provided the machine is set-up to boot from diskette first (in the boot sequence), regardless of the number and the location of the Oberon partitions, and regardless of whether a boot manager is installed or not, booting from diskette is a fail-safe way to start Oberon and it is remarkably fast. Hence, it is recommended to create bootable diskettes with each Oberon installation, even if the final goal is to boot an Oberon partition directly or with the assistance of a boot manager. When the machine is started from the floppy, the boot loader reads the configuration data and locates the hard disk partition to start. Important: Label the diskette with an indication of the Oberon version date, of the partition to start and of the display driver selected.

Technical: A boot diskette is a special case of Oberon-0 containing only the boot file and configuration data customized for a particular machine. In case the graphic card is replaced, a re-boot from that diskette might fail but this should not come as a surprise. To correct the situation, replace the display driver. In case the partition was assigned a new ordinal number, change the config string.

How to copy an Oberon boot diskette

It is always prudent to keep more than one copy of such a diskette. To reproduce one (see Partitions.Tool):
  1. create an image file of it by executing: Partitions.PartitionToFile
  2. create a new diskette from this file by executing: Partitions.FileToPartition

DOS boot

Oberon can also be started from DOS. You do not have to compromise your machine by installing a DOS/Windows partition just to start Oberon. Create a DOS boot floppy first: a very small DOS composition is enough. Boot from the floppy to load DOS into RAM and call:

noboot native.bin native.par

If Windows 98 or an earlier Windows OS is installed, one can configure noboot.exe to run in MS-DOS mode and start Oberon directly from Windows.

File systems on diskettes

A diskette can host the classical FatFS, a NatFS or an AosFS. Obviously, Native Oberon is required to format a diskette to NatFS or AosFS. Cfr. Partitions.Format. To format it to FatFS, use another suitable operating system. Currently, the Backup.Format command is not implemented. It existed in earlier versions.

Using a diskette as backup medium

Given the small average size of Oberon files, it is quite reasonable and appropriate to use diskettes as backup medium. Cfr. Backing up data. A ZIP diskette (100MB or 250MB) or a JAZ disk serve better for backing up data though. See Backup.Tool

Splitting large files onto diskettes

For carrying an occasional large file, floppy disks, in spite of their small capacity, can still offer a practical solution. First split the file in chunks of maximum 700kB, then copy the files to diskettes.

Miscellaneous.SplitFile filename
Copy the named file into subfiles of maximum 700kB each. The resulting files receive filenames suffixed with "0", "1", etc.

Miscellaneous.JoinFiles filename
Copy subfiles to a combined large file. Specify only one filename.


17 Oct 2002 - Copyright © 2002 ETH Zürich. All rights reserved.
E-Mail: oberon-web at