Reading QNX2 formatted floppies

Does anyone know of a windows utility to read QNX2 formatted floppy disks?

We’re running some version of QNX2 (maybe 2.21?) on a machine that’s over 20 years old, and it does a backup of our user data from the hard drive to floppy drive.

We’ve literally got thousands of 5 1/4" floppy disks with this data on that, and I’ve been tasked with getting all of the data off of the floppies and into our windows environment.

I built a 486 based machine with two 5 1/4" floppy drives in the hopes of being able to move the data off of the floppies and into our server’s hard drives.

Are there utilities to do this? I can build a Linux machine as a gateway to our windows network if I cannot do it directly in windows.

Will the QNX4 driver for Linux read QNX2 disks?

Thanks in advance.

There are a few ways you could do this.

  1. Use QNX 2 to copy floppy to floppy
    QNX 2 has a DOS file system (dfs) so mount the 2nd floppy

dfs start b=2

If you then put in a QNX diskette and a DOS formatted diskette you could do the following:

backup 1:/ b:/ +a +v

  1. Use QNX 2 to copy your floppies to a hard drive
    The hard drive could be A) another partition on your hard drive, B) a 2nd EIDE drive, C) A Compact Flash, D) A Zip drive if you have the driver.
    This method has a big advantage. If you copy floppy to floppy you have a bunch of DOS floppies that you will probably have to copy again.
    Use the same method as above except:

mount disk 4 (2nd hard drive, depends which disk)

dfs start d=4

backup 1:/ d:/disk###

Note that QNX 2 only supports FAT16 which I think limits you to a 512Meg HD. I’m not sure, but the number 32Meg sticks in my head but it seems too small.

  1. Use QNX 4 to copy floppies to a floppy or a hard drive
    QNX 4 has both a FAT32 file system and a read-only QNX 2 file system.
    Start these up and copy using “cp -R”.
    QNX 4 doesn’t have the limits that QNX 2 has for EIDE hard drives.

Once you get your data onto a DOS system it probably makes sense to make CD’s or even data DVD’s.

  1. (Shameless commercial) Hire someone who has all the equipment and the experience with QNX2. Tell me how many diskettes and i’ll give you a price.

Thanks for the response, but none of these are avenues I want to take.


Well one more try. You could write a WIndows program that can read directories and files off of a QNX 2 diskette. Before QNX 4 had the QNX 2 file system I wrote such a program for QNX 4.

If that’s no good, I really think you are SOL.

This I would entertain… Are there specs somewhere that describe the format of the QNX2 format? Can I use your code as a starting point?

I am a very proficient windows programmer.


The specs come with QNX 2. I’ll look around for the source. It was written 15+ yrs ago.

Attached are the two files. q2files is a directory reader. If I recall you can to start by giving the program the sector of the root-block, which is probably 2 on a floppy. From there can work your way down the directory chain. When you see a file you want you can run q2read which will copy the data off to a file.

For your purposes I suppose you will want to adapt this.

Keep in mind that in this code an int and an unsigned are 2 bytes, not 4. The missing .h files should all be removable since the refer to QNX 4 routines, which you have to replace.

Good Luck.

Note that there are tools that will allow you to make a raw copy of the floppy. That won’t give you access to each individual files but at least you will be able to create backup and restore them easy.

If you write a tool that can read files off the floppy you have to also write a tool that will write them ;)

Mario, I think he just wants to get the data off the QNX 2 file system.

My understanding from the OP is that they wanted to get rid of the thousands of backup floppies they have. Didnt sound like they needed to have access to individual files. As I said if its for backup purposes then they also need a mean of restoring the data, reading files is one thing but writing them is much more difficult. That is why I suggested doing an image backup of the floppy could solve their problem.

We want to basically get off QNX and into a Microsoft environment. The QNX PC that we’re using is probably (if not) at least 20 years old. It’s a 286!! Everyone is afraid to do anything with it because if the hardware fails, we’re in serious trouble.

I’m going to try to create images of the disks, then write a windows based program to “read” them and extract the data from them as if it were a physical drive.

What a PITA… Everyone who originally wrote this stuff must be dead, or retired and sitting on a beach somewhere with a huge smile.

I’ll post my results back, and certainly provide the source code for any work that I do. In the meantime, I have built a QNX 6 box in the hopes that I would be able to read the disks, but no such luck.


LOL. Mario, Maschoen and myself have all worked with QNX2 and none of us are retired, dead or sitting on the beach (well, in truth I do sit on the beach as I live in Florida).

You might want to post which product/company this device came from because it’s possible the original designers still read this forum on occasion.

As far as reading the disks go, QNX 6 can’t do it. Only QNX 4 could read QNX 2 disks.


I never developped for QNX2.

Actually, the “server” (as this company calls it) was developed by another division of the same company. Unfortunately, they subcontracted the work out for the software, and nobody knows anything about the software. I think there was a bad parting of ways way back in the late 80’s between the subcontractors and the division that created the hardware (Compaq 286).

I guess I’ll hunt for QNX4 or QNX2. I think they have the install disks for QNX2. Do you think it would run in a virtual machine since I cannot easily get my hands on any vintage hardware?


Yes both QNX4 and QNX2 works in VMwARE. In fact if the system you are using is only using serial port (no arcnet) it might just work in VMware.

The system is not connected to a network. It has an 8 port serial card that’s hooked up to the industrial machines that report to it.

I’ll give VMWare a shot as well…

This is a pretty positive outlook that there are a few possibilities that will work for me to accomplish this project.

The help you guys have offered is invaluable, and I hope that it can help others in the future…

8 serial ports on a 286, ouch. It does sound like a specialized card, and not 8 “standard” serial ports.

I remember these cards, though I forget the brand name. The only thing specialized was the shared interrupt. Top baud rate was either 9600 or 19,200. And the 286 had no trouble keeping up with the baud rate as I recall. I think there might even have been room for two of these.

More comes back to me. I recall someone using two of these hooked up to 300 baud modems as a message board. And this may have been on an 8088. Quite impressive both at the time and in hindsite.

We had two of these cards giving us 16 ports running at 9600 baud on an industrial 286 as the one of the main servers on our QNX network back in the late 1980’s or very early 90’s. I retired in Jan 1992, so it had been installed for a few years before that. Worked very well.

If the OP’s backup files are in FBACKUP format, can he still access them via QDOS or some such? I have forgotten what format FBACKUP diskettes are, and my QNX 2 manuals are still packed after a recent move.

fbackup was a little like a tar file, layed out onto the sectors of a diskette. Both QNX 2 and QNX 4 supported this, as it was the original route for moving data between them. The QNX 2 file system for QNX 4 came later. fbackup had one notable shortcoming which was that it had a 32 meg limit. This turned up when I tried to use it on 100 Meg Zip disks.