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4. "Tape and Drivers" related questions !

4.1 What are good makers of Travan tapes?

I was the UNIX Product Manager at Archive Corp (Prior to the Conner/Seagate mess) and we performed extensive tests of tape media for compatibility certification, including retentivity, flaking and length consistancy. Based on the results of the tests, we selected the best of these certified manufacturers' products to private label as our own media. Here is the order in which we selected vendors up through 1995 (when I lost contact with the ATI group):

  1. 3M (now known as Imation)
  2. QMaxell/Sony (tie)
  3. (BTW - Iomega uses Sony private-labelled media)
  1. Fuji
  2. Maxell/Sony (tie - is this a trend?)
  1. Fuji/Exabyte - which we believed to be OEM'd Fuji (tie - so much for trend!)
  2. Sony
  3. Maxell
  1. Maxell
  2. Sony

Otherwise, we had entries in our search from other vendors which were generally a private-labelled version of one of the major labels above. The exceptions were Verbatim and DIC. Both of these manufacturer's media had fall-out rates and length discrepancies that were so high that we would not certify them and even warned customers about them indicating that we could not offer any sort of guarantee that they would get a good backup using the media from these manufacturers.

In addition, since coming to EST, I've found that Verbatim media is still not worth the money saved in purchasing it. We have 11 of their TR-Extra and QIC-Extra (QICXL) tapes that were useless after fewer than 20 passes each.

While this is my personal opinion, it is based on over 9 years of experience with this very question, I strongly recommend Imation/3M media for QIC/Travan user, Fuji media 4MM users, Exabyte/Fuji for 8MM and DEC labelled media for DLT users.

<answer from Tim Jones>

4.2 Where can I obtain the QIC standards?

If you wish to help developing Ftape, or add some utility (e.g. a tape formatting program), you will need that appropriate QIC standards. The standard(s) to get is: QIC-80, -117, -3010, and 3020. QIC-117 describes how commands are sent to the tape drive (including timing etc), so you would probably never need it. QIC-80/3010/3020 describes higher level part, such as tape layout, ECC code, standard filesystem. You can get the QIC standards from the following address:

Quarter Inch Cartridge Drive Standards, Inc.
311 East Carrillo Street
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Phone: (805) 963-3853
Fax:   (805) 962-1541

Note: They are registered as `Freeman Associates, Inc' in the phone book.

<from the Ftape-Howto>

4.3 Is the Iomega Ditto 2GB drive supported?

Yes, if you are using the latest version ftape-3.03b-970603 of the Ftape drivers from the Ftape Home Page.

<answer from Tim Jones>

As the Ditto 2GB is a Tr-3 tape (though it can only store 1GB instead of the 1.6GB you get with a regular Tr-3 drive) you need an FDC (FDC means: Floppy Disk Controller) that is capable of at 1Mbit/sec transfer rate. You don't need to worry about this if you have an accellerator card (i.e. the Ditto Dash controller). Otherwise try to purchase an FDC that claims to be capable of driving 2.88Mb floppies because this implies that the FDC is capable of 1Mbit transfer rate.

Ftape prints the maximum data rate of the FDC to the kernel log files like this:
ftape-ctl.c (ftape_init_drive) - Highest FDC supported data rate: 500 Kbps.

<answer from Claus Heine>

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