Creating Roland MC-300 and MC-500 Disks with Linux

Getting Roland's double-density (720K) 3.5" floppy images to transfer right with a modern system is a pain in the ass. Here's why:

Ideally, Roland would give you raw disk images that are identical to the data on the original floppy, bit for bit. This would really help out the end user if the only machine in their acquisition capable of formatting a 2SDD 720K floppy was a SPARC system running Linux (like me, unfortunately). Since that's not the case, I've done the grinding and wrote this website to provide this to anyone experiencing similar difficulty.

The following filenames are identical to Rolands' except with '.img' appended. Here are the raw disk image equivalents:

And if it helps, here is a blank, FAT-formatted image of a 2SDD 720K floppy: Empty FAT-formatted 720K.img

To write these disks to a 2SHD 1.44MB floppy, hold the disk with the sliding door on the bottom and look at the front as if you were reading the label, then cover the hole on the top-left corner with a piece of tape to trick the floppy drive into thinking it's a 2SDD disk with 80 tracks and 9 sectors. Please be warned that not all 2SHD disks are capable of working correctly as 2SDD due to the different physical magnetic properties of 2SHD and 2SDD, so your mileage may vary. My recent experience with a new pack of 10 2SHD disks left me with only a few working 2SDD-formatted floppies. For real 2SDD disks, there will be no hole, no potential issues if it's not failing already, and you don't need to do this.

After you have that sorted, insert the floppy into your machine and issue a command similar to this one:

dd if=/path/to/image.img of=/dev/fd0

Give the machine a minute or so to finish, and it should produce a fully formatted disk with the correct data on it. If the floppy drive's motor is loudly seeking often or there are visible errors that are displayed on the terminal, you will probably need to try another disk. Also, please be absolutely positive that the "of=" syntax above is referencing your floppy drive or you may end up with a Roland-formatted hard drive.

These images were created from VFD running in Windows XP on a virtual machine, using the binary floppy applications and proprietary images from here and here. Of course, to use any of these images (besides the blank floppy), you must agree to Roland's EULA for each disk.