Re: Definitive guide for writing Lisa disk images to floppies

From: James MacPhail <gg__at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 02:48:37 -0800

Yes I'm sure it is frustrating... for a long time we were working with anecdotal evidence and theories. However, I believe most of that has been resolved by Ray's work and so I think you can be confident you will get something that works right the first time (barring bad hardware issues).

You probably have already, but for future readers, start with the LisaFAQ page about making floppies:


You can get DiskCopy 4.2 from Apple's web site, although the old software tends to move around on their site.

Here is Apple's current old software archive list: <>

And DiskCopy 4.2 in particular:

You'll need a macbinary decoder for .bin files. Stuffit Expander is commonly used, but I see that old versions are no longer available on the publisher's web site. Let us know if you can't find a suitable version elsewhere.

When collecting the necessary hardware/software, in my opinion there are two scenarios to consider:

  1. You just want to read/write disks without mounting them in the Finder (ie. you don't need to access the contents on your newer Mac). This is what most people need... they want to download software images and make floppies from them, or read what they have on floppies to images, perhaps for backup or duplication.

In this case, since DiskCopy uses its own floppy driver, you can use any Mac with built-in floppy hardware, and any operating system that will run DiskCopy. For instance, a G3 Mac running MacOS 9 does work. (ie. even the last Mac that has a floppy)

2) Since Lisa disks can't be mounted in the finder, this second scenario applies only when you are using some variant of MacWorks, and want to use a floppy disk in both your Lisa and a Mac. There are two issues here, floppy disk controller hardware and OS support:

  1. Since the floppy hardware in the Lisa is slightly less advanced than Macs, floppy drivers in the Mac II and later will often make a disk that is unreadable in a Lisa. The Mac II can read the disk ok, but sectors written by the OS on a Mac II may not be readable by the Lisa (disks written by DiskCopy are still ok). Hence you might choose a MacPlus to avoid this problem... you can get SCSI ethernet boxes that work on the Plus (and the Lisa running MacWorks Plus II), but they can be a bit fiddly. Regardless, one can still use a Mac II and later for this purpose, you can "cleanse" any problem disks by using DiskCopy to read and re-write them.
  2. There is an advantage to choosing a Mac that can run System/MacOS 8.0 or earlier: These systems can mount and read/write GCR Macintosh MFS disks (such as made by MacWorks XL) in the Finder. MFS support was dropped in MacOS 8.1. (Note this contradicts the LisaFAQ which states that System 7 cannot read MFS floppies, but it is from a posting I made 2008-01-07, so I believe it, but it might not be true :)
  3. System 7.5 and up cannot CREATE an MFS disk per <> (Note this contradicts the LisaFAQ which states that System 7 cannot read MFS floppies, but it is an Apple technote, so I believe it.) I see that technote seems to gloss over the fact that 400K and MFS disks are not equivalent (one can have an HFS 400K disk, or an MFS 800K disk, but these are rarities), so there may be some missing details.

There is another potential hiccup in how you get the downloaded images onto your Mac to make the floppies, but if you get a Mac with ethernet, that is likely to not be an issue.

I realize I've dodged your question about specific recommendations... the problem there is that most of the obvious combinations will work for most cases.

I suppose it is safe to say you should not get an original Mac with a 400k drive... they get gummed up and someday you might want to put an 800k drive in your Lisa.

Feel free to ask more questions and we can try to narrow down your choices.


>HI everyone,
>It is frustrating trying to find a definitive guide to writing Lisa
>disk images to floppies so they can then be read by my Lisa so I can
>install software.
>I know I need to get an old Mac with an 400/800k drive or a
>I know I need to use Diskcopy 4.2 to write the images.
>I've seen some posts saying use system 7.5.5 or earlier and some say
>you can use newer.
>Can anyone point me to a definitive step-by-step guide that says how
>to do this ... what are the
>best old macs to use (with ethernet ports ...) what system version to
>install, where to get diskcopy
>4.2, what browser to use, etc.? I'll pretty much be using the mac I
>get ONLY for this purpose.
>And yes, I've perused this group and search Google ad nauseum and
>haven't found such a guide.

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