mtools(5) MTOOLS mtools(5)
mtools.conf - mtools configuration files
This manpage describes the configuration files for mtools. They are
called /etc/mtools.conf and ~/.mtoolsrc. If the environmental vari
able MTOOLSRC is set, its contents is used as the filename for a third
configuration file. These configuration files describe the following
* Global configuration flags and variables
* Per drive flags and variables
* Character translation tables
Location of the configuration files
/etc/mtools.conf is the system-wide configuration file, and
~/.mtoolsrc is the users private configuration file.
On some systems, the system-wide configuration file is called
General configuration file syntax
The configuration files is made up of sections. Each section starts
with a keyword identifying the section followed by a colon. Then fol
low variable assignments and flags. Variable assignments take the fol
Flags are lone keywords without an equal sign and value following them.
A section either ends at the end of the file or where the next section
Lines starting with a hash (#) are comments. Newline characters are
equivalent to whitespace (except where ending a comment). The configu
ration file is case insensitive, except for item enclosed in quotes
(such as filenames).
For most platforms, mtools contains reasonable compiled-in defaults for
physical floppy drives. Thus, you usually dont need to bother with
the configuration file, if all you want to do with mtools is to access
your floppy drives. On the other hand, the configuration file is needed
if you also want to use mtools to access your hard disk partitions and
dosemu image files.
Global flags may be set to 1 or to 0.
The following global flags are recognized:
If this is set to 1, mtools skips most of its sanity checks.
This is needed to read some Atari disks which have been made
with the earlier ROMs, and which would not be recognized other
If this is set to 1, mtools skips the fat size checks. Some
disks have a bigger FAT than they really need to. These are
rejected if this option is not set.
If this is set to 1, mtools displays all-upper-case short file
names as lowercase. This has been done to allow a behavior which
is consistent with older versions of mtools which didnt know
about the case bits.
If this is set to 1, mtools wont generate VFAT entries for
filenames which are mixed-case, but otherwise legal dos file
names. This is useful when working with DOS versions which
cant grok VFAT longnames, such as FreeDos.
In a wide directory, prints the short name with a dot instead of
spaces separating the basename and the extension.
If this is set to one (default), generate numeric tails for all
long names (~1). If set to zero, only generate numeric tails if
otherwise a clash would have happened.
If 1, uses the European notation for times (twenty four hour
clock), else uses the UK/US notation (am/pm)
Example: Inserting the following line into your configuration file
instructs mtools to skip the sanity checks:
Global variables may also be set via the environment:
Global string variables may be set to any value:
The format used for printing dates of files. By default, is dd-
Per drive flags and variables
Per drive flags and values may be described in a drive section. A drive
section starts with drive "driveletter" :
Then follow variable-value pairs and flags.
This is a sample drive description:
Disk Geometry Configuration
Geometry information describes the physical characteristics about the
disk. Its has three purposes:
The geometry information is written into the boot sector of the
newly made disk. However, you may also describe the geometry
information on the command line. See section mformat, for
On some Unices there are device nodes which only support one
physical geometry. For instance, you might need a different node
to access a disk as high density or as low density. The geometry
is compared to the actual geometry stored on the boot sector to
make sure that this device node is able to correctly read the
disk. If the geometry doesnt match, this drive entry fails, and
the next drive entry bearing the same drive letter is tried. See
section multiple descriptions, for more details on supplying
several descriptions for one drive letter.
If no geometry information is supplied in the configuration
file, all disks are accepted. On Linux (and on Sparc) there
exist device nodes with configurable geometry (/dev/fd0,
/dev/fd1 etc), and thus filtering is not needed (and ignored)
for disk drives. (Mtools still does do filtering on plain files
(disk images) in Linux: this is mainly intended for test pur
poses, as I dont have access to a Unix which would actually
If you do not need filtering, but want still a default geometry
for mformatting, you may switch off filtering using the mfor
If you want filtering, you should supply the filter flag. If
you supply a geometry, you must supply one of both flags.
On devices that support it (usually floppy devices), the geome
try information is also used to set the initial geometry. This
initial geometry is applied while reading the boot sector, which
contains the real geometry. If no geometry information is sup
plied in the configuration file, or if the mformat_only flag is
supplied, no initial configuration is done.
On Linux, initial geometry is not really needed, as the config
urable devices are able to auto-detect the disk type accurately
enough (for most common formats) to read the boot sector.
Wrong geometry information may lead to very bizarre errors. Thats why
I strongly recommend that you add the mformat_only flag to your drive
description, unless you really need filtering or initial geometry.
The following geometry related variables are available:
tracks The number of cylinders. (cylinders is the preferred form,
tracks is considered obsolete)
heads The number of heads (sides).
The number of sectors per track.
Example: the following drive section describes a 1.44M drive:
cylinders=80 heads=2 sectors=18
The following shorthand geometry descriptions are available:
1.44m high density 3 1/2 disk. Equivalent to: fat_bits=12 cylinders=80
1.2m high density 5 1/4 disk. Equivalent to: fat_bits=12 cylinders=80
720k double density 3 1/2 disk. Equivalent to: fat_bits=12 cylin
ders=80 heads=2 sectors=9
360k double density 5 1/4 disk. Equivalent to: fat_bits=12 cylin
ders=40 heads=2 sectors=9
The shorthand format descriptions may be amended. For example, 360k
sectors=8 describes a 320k disk and is equivalent to: fat_bits=12
cylinders=40 heads=2 sectors=8
Moreover, the following flags are available:
sync All i/o operations are done synchronously
The device or file is opened with the O_NDELAY flag. This is
needed on some non-Linux architectures.
The device or file is opened with the O_EXCL flag. On Linux,
this ensures exclusive access to the floppy drive. On most other
architectures, and for plain files it has no effect at all.
General Purpose Drive Variables
The following general purpose drive variables are available. Depending
to their type, these variables can be set to a string (file, precmd) or
an integer (all others)
file The name of the file or device holding the disk image. This is
mandatory. The file name should be enclosed in quotes.
Tells mtools to treat the drive as a partitioned device, and to
use the given partition. Only primary partitions are accessible
using this method, and they are numbered from 1 to 4. For logi
cal partitions, use the more general offset variable. The parti
tion variable is intended for removable media such as Syquests,
ZIP drives, and magneto-optical disks. Although traditional DOS
sees Syquests and magneto-optical disks as giant floppy disks
which are unpartitioned, OS/2 and Windows NT treat them like
hard disks, i.e. partioned devices. The partition flag is also
useful DOSEMU hdimages. It is not recommended for hard disks for
which direct access to partitions is available through mounting.
Describes where in the file the MS-DOS filesystem starts. This
is useful for logical partitions in DOSEMU hdimages, and for
ATARI ram disks. By default, this is zero, meaning that the
filesystem starts right at the beginning of the device or file.
The number of FAT bits. This may be 12 or 16. This is very
rarely needed, as it can almost always be deduced from informa
tion in the boot sector. On the contrary, describing the number
of fat bits may actually be harmful if you get it wrong. You
should only use it if mtools gets the autodetected number of fat
bits wrong, or if you want to mformat a disk with a weird number
of fat bits.
On some variants of Solaris, it is necessary to call volcheck
-v before opening a floppy device, in order for the system to
notice that there is indeed a disk in the drive.
precmd="volcheck -v" in the drive clause establishes the desired
This parameter represents a default block size to be always used
on this device. All I/O is done with multiples of this block
size, independantly of the sector size registered in the
filesystems boot sector. This is useful for character devices
whose sector size is not 512, such as for example CD Rom drives
Only the file variable is mandatory. The other parameters may be left
out. In that case a default value or an autodetected value is used.
General Purpose Drive Flags
A flag can either be set to 1 (enabled) or 0 (disabled). If the value
is ommitted, it is enabled. For example, scsi is equivalent to scsi=1
Instruct mtools to not use locking on this drive. This is
needed on systems with buggy locking semantics. However,
enabling this makes operation less safe in cases where several
users may access the same drive at the same time.
scsi When set to 1, this option tells mtools to use raw SCSI I/O
instead of the standard read/write calls to access the device.
Currently, this is supported on HP/UX, Solaris and SunOs. This
is needed because on some architectures, such as SunOs or
Solaris, PC media cant be accessed using the read and write
syscalls, because the OS expects them to contain a Sun specific
As raw Scsi access always uses the whole device, you need to
specify the "partition" flag in addition
On some architectures, such as Solaris, mtools needs root privi
leges to be able to use the scsi option. Thus mtools should be
installed set uid root on Solaris if you want to access Zip/Jaz
drives. Thus, if the scsi flag is given, privileged is automat
ically implied, unless explicitly disabled by privileged=0
Mtools uses its root privileges to open the device, and to issue
the actual SCSI I/O calls. Moreover, root privileges are only
used for drives described in a system-wide configuration file
such as /etc/mtools.conf, and not for those described in
~/.mtoolsrc or $MTOOLSRC.
When set to 1, this instructs mtools to use its set-uid and set-
gid privileges for opening the given drive. This option is only
valid for drives described in the system-wide configuration
files (such as /etc/mtools.conf, not ~/.mtoolsrc or $MTOOL
SRC). Obviously, this option is also a no op if mtools is not
installed setuid or setgid. This option is implied by scsi=1,
but again only for drives defined in system-wide configuration
files. Privileged may also be set explicitely to 0, in order to
tell mtools not to use its privileges for a given drive even if
scsi=1 is set.
Mtools only needs to be installed setuid if you use the privi
leged or scsi drive variables. If you do not use these options,
mtools works perfectly well even when not installed setuid root.
Instructs mtools to interpret the device name as a vold identi
fier rather than as a filename. The vold identifier is trans
lated into a real filename using the media_findname() and
media_oldaliases() functions of the volmgt library. This flag
is only available if you configured mtools with the --enable-
new-vold option before compilation.
Consider the media as a word-swapped Atari disk.
If this is set to a non-zero value, mtools also tries to access
this disk as an XDF disk. XDF is a high capacity format used by
OS/2. This is off by default. See section XDF, for more details.
Tells mtools to use the geometry for this drive only for mfor
matting and not for filtering.
Tells mtools to use the geometry for this drive both for mfor
matting and filtering.
Tells mtools to connect to floppyd (see section floppyd).
Supplying multiple descriptions for a drive
It is possible to supply multiple descriptions for a drive. In that
case, the descriptions are tried in order until one is found that fits.
Descriptions may fail for several reasons:
1. because the geometry is not appropriate,
2. because there is no disk in the drive,
3. or because of other problems.
Multiple definitions are useful when using physical devices which are
only able to support one single disk geometry. Example:
drive a: file="/dev/fd0H1440" 1.44m
drive a: file="/dev/fd0H720" 720k
This instructs mtools to use /dev/fd0H1440 for 1.44m (high density)
disks and /dev/fd0H720 for 720k (double density) disks. On Linux, this
feature is not really needed, as the /dev/fd0 device is able to handle
You may also use multiple drive descriptions to access both of your
physical drives through one drive letter:
drive z: file="/dev/fd0"
drive z: file="/dev/fd1"
With this description, mdir z: accesses your first physical drive if it
contains a disk. If the first drive doesnt contain a disk, mtools
checks the second drive.
When using multiple configuration files, drive descriptions in the
files parsed last override descriptions for the same drive in earlier
files. In order to avoid this, use the drive+ or +drive keywords
instead of drive. The first adds a description to the end of the list
(i.e. it will be tried last), and the first adds it to the start of the
Character set translation tables
If you live in the USA, in Western Europe or in Australia, you may skip
Why character set translation tables are needed
DOS uses a different character code mapping than Unix. 7-bit characters
still have the same meaning, only characters with the eight bit set are
affected. To make matters worse, there are several translation tables
available depending on the country where you are. The appearance of the
characters is defined using code pages. These code pages arent the
same for all countries. For instance, some code pages dont contain
upper case accented characters. On the other hand, some code pages con
tain characters which dont exist in Unix, such as certain line-drawing
characters or accented consonants used by some Eastern European coun
tries. This affects two things, relating to filenames:
upper case characters
In short names, only upper case characters are allowed. This
also holds for accented characters. For instance, in a code page
which doesnt contain accented uppercase characters, the
accented lowercase characters get transformed into their unac
long file names
Micro$oft has finally come to their senses and uses a more stan
dard mapping for the long file names. They use Unicode, which is
basically a 32 bit version of ASCII. Its first 256 characters
are identical to Unix ASCII. Thus, the code page also affects
the correspondence between the codes used in long names and
those used in short names
Mtools considers the filenames entered on the command line as having
the Unix mapping, and translates the characters to get short names. By
default, code page 850 is used with the Swiss uppercase/lowercase map
ping. I chose this code page, because its set of existing characters
most closely matches Unixs. Moreover, this code page covers most char
acters in use in the USA, Australia and Western Europe. However, it is
still possible to chose a different mapping. There are two methods: the
country variable and explicit tables.
Configuration using Country
The COUNTRY variable is recommended for people which also have access
to MS-DOS system files and documentation. If you dont have access to
these, Id suggest youd rather use explicit tables instead.
This tells mtools to use a Unix-to-DOS translation table which matches
codepage and an lowercase-to-uppercase table for country and to use the
country-file file to get the lowercase-to-uppercase table. The country
code is most often the telephone prefix of the country. Refer to the
DOS help page on "country" for more details. The codepage and the coun
try-file parameters are optional. Please dont type in the square
brackets, they are only there to say which parameters are optional. The
country-file file is supplied with MS-DOS, and is usually called COUN
TRY.SYS, and stored in the C:\DOS directory. In most cases you dont
need it, as the most common translation tables are compiled into
mtools. So, dont worry if you run a Unix-only box which lacks this
If codepage is not given, a per country default code page is used. If
the country-file parameter isnt given, compiled-in defaults are used
for the lowercase-to-uppercase table. This is useful for other Unices
than Linux, which may have no COUNTRY.SYS file available online.
The Unix-to-DOS are not contained in the COUNTRY.SYS file, and thus
mtools always uses compiled-in defaults for those. Thus, only a limited
amount of code pages are supported. If your preferred code page is
missing, or if you know the name of the Windows 95 file which contains
this mapping, could you please drop me a line at email@example.com.
The COUNTRY variable can also be set using the environment.
Configuration using explicit translation tables
Translation tables may be described in line in the configuration file.
Two tables are needed: first the DOS-to-Unix table, and then the Lower
case-to-Uppercase table. A DOS-to-Unix table starts with the tounix
keyword, followed by a colon, and 128 hexadecimal numbers. A lower-to-
upper table starts with the fucase keyword, followed by a colon, and
128 hexadecimal numbers.
The tables only show the translations for characters whose codes is
greater than 128, because translation for lower codes is trivial.
0xc7 0xfc 0xe9 0xe2 0xe4 0xe0 0xe5 0xe7
0xea 0xeb 0xe8 0xef 0xee 0xec 0xc4 0xc5
0xc9 0xe6 0xc6 0xf4 0xf6 0xf2 0xfb 0xf9
0xff 0xd6 0xdc 0xf8 0xa3 0xd8 0xd7 0x5f
0xe1 0xed 0xf3 0xfa 0xf1 0xd1 0xaa 0xba
0xbf 0xae 0xac 0xbd 0xbc 0xa1 0xab 0xbb
0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0xc1 0xc2 0xc0
0xa9 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0xa2 0xa5 0xac
0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0xe3 0xc3
0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0xa4
0xf0 0xd0 0xc9 0xcb 0xc8 0x69 0xcd 0xce
0xcf 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x5f 0x7c 0x49 0x5f
0xd3 0xdf 0xd4 0xd2 0xf5 0xd5 0xb5 0xfe
0xde 0xda 0xd9 0xfd 0xdd 0xde 0xaf 0xb4
0xad 0xb1 0x5f 0xbe 0xb6 0xa7 0xf7 0xb8
0xb0 0xa8 0xb7 0xb9 0xb3 0xb2 0x5f 0x5f
0x80 0x9a 0x90 0xb6 0x8e 0xb7 0x8f 0x80
0xd2 0xd3 0xd4 0xd8 0xd7 0xde 0x8e 0x8f
0x90 0x92 0x92 0xe2 0x99 0xe3 0xea 0xeb
0x59 0x99 0x9a 0x9d 0x9c 0x9d 0x9e 0x9f
0xb5 0xd6 0xe0 0xe9 0xa5 0xa5 0xa6 0xa7
0xa8 0xa9 0xaa 0xab 0xac 0xad 0xae 0xaf
0xb0 0xb1 0xb2 0xb3 0xb4 0xb5 0xb6 0xb7
0xb8 0xb9 0xba 0xbb 0xbc 0xbd 0xbe 0xbf
0xc0 0xc1 0xc2 0xc3 0xc4 0xc5 0xc7 0xc7
0xc8 0xc9 0xca 0xcb 0xcc 0xcd 0xce 0xcf
0xd1 0xd1 0xd2 0xd3 0xd4 0x49 0xd6 0xd7
0xd8 0xd9 0xda 0xdb 0xdc 0xdd 0xde 0xdf
0xe0 0xe1 0xe2 0xe3 0xe5 0xe5 0xe6 0xe8
0xe8 0xe9 0xea 0xeb 0xed 0xed 0xee 0xef
0xf0 0xf1 0xf2 0xf3 0xf4 0xf5 0xf6 0xf7
0xf8 0xf9 0xfa 0xfb 0xfc 0xfd 0xfe 0xff
The first table maps DOS character codes to Unix character codes. For
example, the DOS character number 129. This is a u with to dots on top
of it. To translate it into Unix, we look at the character number 1 in
the first table (1 = 129 - 128). This is 0xfc. (Beware, numbering
starts at 0). The second table maps lower case DOS characters to upper
case DOS characters. The same lower case u with dots maps to character
0x9a, which is an uppercase U with dots in DOS.
Unicode characters greater than 256
If an existing MS-DOS name contains Unicode character greater than 256,
these are translated to underscores or to characters which are close in
visual appearance. For example, accented consonants are translated into
their unaccented counterparts. This translation is used for mdir and
for the Unix filenames generated by mcopy. Linux does support Unicode
too, but unfortunately too few applications support it yet to bother
with it in mtools. Most importantly, xterm cant display Unicode yet.
If there is sufficient demand, I might include support for Unicode in
the Unix filenames as well.
Caution: When deleting files with mtools, the underscore matches all
characters which cant be represented in Unix. Be careful with mdel!
Location of configuration files and parsing order
The configuration files are parsed in the following order:
1. compiled-in defaults
3. /etc/mtools This is for backwards compatibility only, and is
only parsed if mtools.conf doesnt exist.
5. $MTOOLSRC (file pointed by the MTOOLSRC environmental vari
Options described in the later files override those described in the
earlier files. Drives defined in earlier files persist if they are not
overridden in the later files. For instance, drives A and B may be
defined in /etc/mtools.conf and drives C and D may be defined in
~/.mtoolsrc However, if ~/.mtoolsrc also defines drive A, this new
description would override the description of drive A in
/etc/mtools.conf instead of adding to it. If you want to add a new
description to a drive already described in an earlier file, you need
to use either the +drive or drive+ keyword.
Backwards compatibility with old configuration file syntax
The syntax described herein is new for version mtools-3.0. The old
line-oriented syntax is still supported. Each line beginning with a
single letter is considered to be a drive description using the old
syntax. Old style and new style drive sections may be mixed within the
same configuration file, in order to make upgrading easier. Support for
the old syntax will be phased out eventually, and in order to discour
age its use, I purposefully omit its description here.
MTOOLS 28Feb05 mtools(5)