A floppy Linux boots from a single floppy (sometimes more) and runs either from
that floppy or from a ram disk it created. These are generally used for small
utility disks, or firewalls.
Laplink makes a tool that allows you
to connect two computers with a parallel port cable (or other connections, in
later versions), boot each machine from a floppy diskette, and exchange files
between the two computers. It has a nice interface that is divided into two
columns, one listing the files and directories on the remote computer, the other
listing the files and directories locally. If one wishes to regularly
synchronize files between a number of Windows or DOS computers, or perform quick
"cloning" of installations between computers, this tool is excellent.
However, Laplink does cost money, and you may not make improvements to it and
sell or give them away. Also, Laplink doesn't allow you to transfer files
between Linux hard drives, at least not easily (it may be possible to add ltools
to the laplink DOS floppy - if you have done such a thing and have written up
instructions, I would like to hear about it).
I built a floppy based Linux that allows you to do the basic functionality of
the Laplink DOS diskette. It boots the machine and automatically goes into Midnight Commander, allows you to
set up a plip (parallel port IP) connection from a menu in MC. It automatically
launches the MC server, and has shortcuts to make the file listing display
the remote computers files. I call it "mc-link."
Note: MC-Link fits on a single 1.72 MB floppy diskette, but not all older
computers will boot from that, so I have also added a version that has two 1.44
Free tools to create an ISO image for burning to a CD-R drive do not exist as of
this date (10 March 2003; please email me if you know of such software). As a
result, I created a single floppy Linux that allows you to mount your DOS disks
and make backup CDs of what is on those disks. It is very minimal, containing
fdisk, mkisofs, and cdrecord. You must have enough spare space on your
hard drives to hold the image of the CD (unless your computer has so much RAM
that it can hold a CD image in a ram disk). I call this floppy disk Linux "Escape Pod Linux" because it
allows you to pull out your precious data from a DOS or Windows computer which
is "sinking" for some reason.
Future work: a general guide to making and modifying floppy linuxes.
Robert G. Ristroph
Last modified: Wed Nov 29 17:01:15 CST 2006