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May 1999

LS-120 drives and OS/2 Warp 4.0

By Elton Woo   eltonw@sympatico.ca

            Until this month, when I installed a new Quantum Fireball 8.4 Gb drive, hard drive space was at a premium. Saving huge files to diskette was time-consuming. Without a tape backup, I had to use either ARJ, zipsplit, or Info zip.  Storage in my room was another problem, as I had accumulated about a thousand diskettes over the years.

The pros and cons of LS-120 versus zip drives.

            Why did I choose the LS-120 super disk, instead of a zip drive? For this discussion, I will omit mentioning Jaz or newer 250 Mb zip drives, since the differences in capacity would prohibit a fair comparison with the super disk (LS-120) drive. The super disk and zip are similar in price. As is the case of printing supplies "they get you" via the cost of replacement media, such as special paper, inks, etc.  Zip disks are slightly lower in price than the super disks, but that difference alone does not warrant nor did it influence my decision.

            With their distinctive fan-shaped sliding door, super disks are protected within a sturdy shell.  Zip disks, while being as fast as some hard drives, are not vacuum sealed like a true hard disk ... possibly one of the reasons that they are prone to failure, and (consequently) their lower price.  I certainly recall one member of the Toronto User Group griping about defective zip disks.  The LS-120 doesn't appear to be as fast, but considering that you can put the contents of about a hundred high-density floppy on a single super disk, I am inclined to  believe this is merely a matter of perception.  Later in this article, I recommend a driver that recently appeared on hobbes, and which I find to have improved the speed of my LS-120, particularly when copying or moving several hundred small files.

        I feel that the LS-120 will be the next standard to replace the 3 1/2 inch floppy.  Mind you, there are still folks using old 5 1/4" floppies! Some manufacturers have already started shipping models with the LS-120 installed. Like zip-drives, super disk drives are available as IDE, SCSI or parallel-port models. I have found that they are generic (as far as DOS drivers go). My purchase was the Mitsubishi internal Model  MF3577, and found DOS drivers from other manufacturers that support it.

        Zip-disks need special utilities to repair any data defects. Au contraire, the super disk can be repaired with DOS utilities, as I have been able to verify using an old version of Norton Utilities, and even do a "defrag" under PC-DOS 7.0. I found no surface errors with Norton (version 3.0). Naturally, you can drag and drop files from the WPS to/from the super disk and even run small programs on it. With larger executables you might notice a speed loss.

Installing the Super disk (LS-120) drive:

    Now to the installation of the Mitsubishi Super Disk LS-120 . If you are running out of space to install hardware, Mitsubishi also has a new model which incorporates an LS-120 drive and a CD-ROM drive. [REM: ... just my luck, I find out about these things afterwards, even though I do a lot of "shopping around" ]. (Anyone care to get me a present for my birthday next month? <G>)

    My motherboard is a Shuttle Skywalker HOT-555A, with AWARD BIOS. The CPU is an AMD-686 / 200. I said good-bye to Intel some five years ago. Previously, I had two 1.44 M floppy drives attached, and removed the second one. The DOS device drivers supplied were installed easily, but not correctly. The silly thing insisted on devicehigh={ls-120 device}. Instead, I searched for Super disk (LS-120) drivers and downloaded LS120.ZIP. However, I still got two drive letters for the super disk in DOS/Windows 3.1 (B: and E:) with A: for the floppy.

My solution, therefore,  was to install the super disk drive thus:

        First, I downloaded the latest idedasd.exe from IBM's Device Driver Site - ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/ps/products/os2/os2ddpak/. This provides support for hard drives greater than 2.1 Gb, as well as the LS-120 drive. You can install WARP by booting the diskettes in the LS-120 drive, provided that you have copied the newer drivers from idedasd.exe to Install Disk 1, and edited the config.sys thereon with these two lines:
                                   SET COPYFROMFLOPPY=1

Connecting the internal LS-120 drive:

            The internal  super disk drive should be attached as the Secondary Master  drive, since you would want your hard drive to be the Primary Master. My setup, therefore: Quantum Fireball (8.4 Gb) - Primary Master, IBM Deskstar (1.06 Gb) - Primary Slave, Mitsubishi LS-120 - Secondary Master,  Toshiba 16 x CD - Secondary Slave. They all co-exist happily with this arrangement.

                In the CMOS:
      Floppy A: 1.44 Mb, enabled
      Floppy B: none
      Boot sequence: LS/ZIP, C [You can leave this as A:, but you won't have the advantage of using boot diskettes with the LS-120 drive]
      Floppy redirect enabled.

        With this setup, the Super disk is my bootable diskette drive. On my C: (FAT) partition, or D: (HPFS) partition, the 1.44M floppy is  drive A:  and the LS-120 is drive B:  An additional advantage (as regards security): You can safely leave diskettes in Drive A: knowing that the system cannot be accidentally booted with an infected floppy.

    ... and as my math teacher used to say: "Q.E.D".

... A word on a useful driver (DANIS506.ZIP):

        I would like to take this opportunity to strongly recommend the Danis drivers. DANIS506.ZIP is a replacement for OS/2's IBM1S506.ADD driver. My own experience shows that it has speeded up my hard drives and the LS-120, though without a proper bench-mark utility, I cannot give a fair report. I myself, am no programmer: perhaps some reader might write just such a utility or rexx script for the OS/2 community. You can get DANIS506.zip from Hobbes - ftp://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/incoming/danis506.zip.

Comment on the Bootos2 utility:

     It surprises me that many OS/2 users are not aware of the EWS (IBM Employee Written Software) BTOS2917.zip. It's available on  Hobbes - ftp://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/util/system/btos2917.zip , and will create a set of boot diskettes which provide access to your CD-ROM drive, and your LS-120 drive. (I have made a newer set which incorporate the Danis drivers).  Thus I am able to boot with only two floppies, from the LS-120 drive, and have access to my CD-ROM drive, as well.

    P.S. This article  was written for VOICE, at the request of Mark Dodel. I did this using Netscape Composer. Please send any comments (and please be gentle  ... it's my first time <*wink*> ...) to:
                                    eltonw@sympatico.ca. You can also page me on ICQ: #9984432.

                                                             Elton Woo
                                 Montréal (Québec), CANADA - 27th April, 1999.

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