It was thousands of years ago when Linus Torvalds first revealed the Linux operating system. Or maybe 28 years; a long time, either way. And three decades later, things are very different – and so Linux is finally dropping floppy drive support.
The big reason for the move is that to test drivers, you need hardware to run the drivers on. And floppy drives are getting really hard to find. The latest update to the floppy project over on GitHub features a note from Torvalds himself.
“Actual working physical floppy hardware is getting hard to find, and… I think the driver can be considered pretty much dead from an actual hardware standpoint,” Torvalds writes. The few floppy drives that are still whirring away out there are mostly USB-based, Torvalds continues, adding that those don’t use the hardware floppy driver. The driver won’t be going away – it’s still available for use in virtual environments. Future maintenance, though, will require someone to step up, Torvalds writes.
This ultimately affects a small segment—of an already small segment—of PC users. These days, most of us have removed rotational drives of any kind from our systems. Many cases don’t even have optical drive bays anymore, let alone 3.5-inch bays. Floppy disks were a crucial part of the sneakernet back in the day, but thumb drives and ultra-fast internet connections have worked together to dwarf the 1.44-megabyte capacity and make physical data migration unnecessary for most of us.
But to think that floppy drivers are still being updated is amusing at the very least. It’s a little nostalgic, too. Intel dropped support back in 2001. ZDNet notes that Linux dropped support for 386 processors back in 2012.