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7. Tape Devices

This program requires a device driver for the tape drive. For users of the floppy controller type (eg. Jumbo), there are now two drivers available.

The original one was ftape and was written by Bas Laarhoven and, at the time of writing this, is currently at version 2.11a. It is available from It should be in /pub/Linux/kernel/tapes. At the time of writing, it was still in /pub/Linux/Incoming.

A new driver, zftape, was written by Claus-Justus Heine, and is found at It uses the basic ftape code, however, it contains many enhancements over ftape including support for compression and a true seekable device. The latest version at time of writing was 1.06a. You must use version 1.02 or later.

However, Claus-Justus Heine has taken over maintaining both ftape and zftape. His latest project is to integrate the code of ftape and zftape into one source, which is has called ftape and have version numbers >= 3. That is, ftape-3.xx and above is actually a combination of the old zftape and ftape. The moral of the story is... if you are using ftape version >= 3, you can tell taper that you are using zftape since version 3 and above has all the functionality of the old zftape. If you are using the ftape version 3 or above, for the purposes of this documentation, assume that you are using zftape.

Claus has a home page where the latest ftape and zftape can be obtained.

Two devices are needed - a rewinding device - when using this device, the tape drive is automatically rewound when closed, and a non-rewinding device - when using this device, the tape drive is not rewound when closed but left where is. The names of these devices depend on whether you are using a SCSI drive, ftape or zftape. Alternatively, you can change the names in the global preferences menu, via the preference file, from the environment, or via the command line.

It is important that both a rewinding and a non-rewinding device is given.

When making an archive as a file on a hard disk, the filename should be given for both the rewinding and non-rewinding device. To make things easier, you can use the -b command line option or the BOTH preference.

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