2013-01-05 · in Media Archiving · 967 words

Elite saves disk

This is one of about 600 Amiga floppies I needed to image.

This one really shouldn't have survived — it's on HD media, which isn't appropriate for the Amiga's DD floppy drives, and it clearly had a hard life even before becoming my Elite commanders disk. But it read fine first time...

So I had my A1200 set up with a couple of external floppy drives and a nice big CF card to write images to. I prefer to have disks in ADF format, which is just a dump of the sectors of the disk with an optional header, but I was aware that some of the games and coverdisks I had were in non-AmigaDOS formats; for those, you need something more flexible such as IPF.

ADF images can be used with an emulator such as FS-UAE, but I was pleased to discover that unar understands Amiga filesystems as an archive type as well. It also supports lots of the Amiga archivers — handy given that I've got LhA, LZX, and various other kinds of files around.

I tried out a few different open-source tools for creating disk images.

Once I'd got my tools in place, it was largely just an exercise in disk-swapping, occasionally shifting the CF card from my A1200 to my Linux machine to copy off the images I'd read. I did this in my spare time over a couple of weeks.

Some of the Amiga disks

The most interesting disks were data, so I did those first, including all the backup disks I could find. I found most of the things I'd been looking for: some OctaMED modules that I didn't have on hard disk, most of the data from my FidoNet point, various files I'd downloaded from BBSs. Some of the most interesting disks to me were those that I'd made up to give to friends...

Disks for friends

Next up were original disks for applications and games. It's easy to find images of pirate versions of Amiga games through TOSEC or similar, but originals for the versions of software that I actually own are worth grabbing — especially drivers for bits of hardware.

I also had rather a lot of system disks. After some sorting, I think I've at some point been given the software for:

(Incidentally, I find it interesting that FS-UAE's frontend assumes rather different Workbench versions for the most common Amigas from those my friends and I had in the UK — for example, I never saw an A500 with Workbench 1.2, or an A1200 with 3.1.)

A1500 system disks

Many of these were PC-formatted disks, either because I was using them at school or because I wanted to give them to friends with other machines (e.g. Acorn users). DD ones I read with transadf; HD ones I saved for later. I also found a handful — literally — of Acorn Archimedes and Atari ST disks. The former are ADFS, which disk-analyser understands and can produce images of; the latter are very similar to PC floppies, and the Amiga's PC0: handles them fine.

Out of this batch, most floppies read perfectly — even those that had been stored (in sealed boxes) at ambient temperature in my parents' garage for the last few years. Some wouldn't read with an external drives, but were fine with the A1200's internal drive (or vice versa); I didn't do anything particular to clean the drives, so it's quite possible that the internal drive was just cleaner owing to having had much less use in the past.

Only half a dozen disks of the 600 really couldn't be read — most of these I concluded weren't worth the effort, but a couple got special attention; more on this later.

AmigaDOS produces some interesting disk errors:

You what? Well, if you insist...

The heap of software looked much less impressive once it was all sorted and packed into a couple of crates:

Crates of Amiga software and hardware

In total, that's a bit under four gigabytes of disk images.