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3. The preliminaries

The maintainer of the source for ftape is Claus Heine <>. He has a web page at

If you have a problem or questions about ftape, try posting to the newsgroups. This is a Usenet group that mirrors the traffic on the mailing list (see Following the ftape development below). It is recommended that the newsgroup be used in preference to the mailing list, since the vger machine is overburdened with the load of the Linux mailing lists.

I use ftape (it is my sole means of backing up on my linux box :-). I hesitate to make recommendations on what hardware to buy. I use an Iomega Ditto Tape Insider 3200 and it seems to work OK for me, but I won't even try to tell you not to buy something else. See the section Supported drives and Unsupported drives for a list of supported and unsupported drives.

You should try to post a summary of your problems and its solution(s), after you've got it working, even if you only got it partially working. Please also send me (<>) a copy of your solution or post it to the newsgroup so that I can add it to the HOWTO.

I generally read my mail several times a week, I try to respond to everyone, but I cannot guarantee that I will respond immediately. I usually read the newsgroups ( and the kernel list).

If you receive this as part of a printed distribution or on a CD-ROM, please check out the Linux Documentation home page or ftp to to see if there exists a more recent version. This could potentially save you a lot of trouble.

If you email me, please include the string ftape in the subject line. This will help ensure the mail doesn't inadvertently get buried.

3.1 What is ftape

ftape is a driver program that controls various low-cost tape drives that connect to the floppy controller.

ftape is not a backup program as such; it is a device driver, which allows you to use the tape drive (just like the SoundBlaster 16 driver let you use your sound card) through the device files /dev/[n]rft[0-3].

ftape was originally written by Bas Laarhoven <>, with ``a little help from his friends'' to sort out the ECC (Error Correcting Code) stuff. ftape is copyrighted by Bas under the GNU General Public License, which basically says: ``go ahead and share this with the world, just don't disallow other people from copying it further''.

ftape is quite stable, and has been that for some time now. It is reliable enough for critical backups (but it's always a good idea to check your backups, so you won't get a nasty surprise some day).

ftape supports drives that conform to the QIC-117 and one of the QIC-80, QIC-40, QIC-3010, and QIC-3020 standards.

ftape supports neither QIC-02, IDE (ATAPI), nor SCSI tape drives. SCSI drives are accessed as /dev/[n]st[0-7] and are supported by the kernel through the SCSI drivers. If you look for help on SCSI tape drives, you should read the SCSI-howto. ATAPI tape drives are supported by the kernel since 1.3.46. See section Supported drives and Unsupported drives for a list of supported and unsupported drives.

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