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Why would you want to use a floppy drive in a VM?
Virtual machines can access floppy drives a number of ways. This includes utilizing the floppy drive on the ESXi host (if one is installed) as the “Host Device” option, using a floppy image on a VMFS datastore, or creating a new floppy drive image from an existing floppy disk.
Using a floppy drive in a virtual machine is rare, but is usual for a license file or driver transfer for a custom element of an operating system installation.
Use WinImage to create virtual floppy disk
By far the most popular strategy is to use a floppy image file. VMware vSphere supports the .FLP format for floppy drives and a number of tools exist to create virtual floppy disks in this format. WinImage is one such tool that can create a new virtual image of the 1.44 MB and other removable disk formats.
WinImage can either inject individual files or read an existing floppy disk to create an image file. Tools like WinImage can also interact with other virtual media formats, such as CD-ROM, .ISO.
Save the floppy image
Once the contents of the floppy image are made, the file can be saved in a number of formats. WinImage can utilize the .IMZ, .VFD, and .FLP formats. VMware uses the .FLP file format and it functions in a similar manner as the CD-ROM format.
Upload the image file
To use the newly created floppy image file, it will need to be uploaded to one of the datastores on an ESXi host. I usually put the floppy images in the same folder as the CD-ROM .ISO files on a datastore. Click the Upload File icon on the Datastore Browser tool in the vSphere Client.
Name the file uniquely
Browse to the file that was created and select upload. Be sure to use a unique name for the file, as the vSphere Client will overwrite a file if it already exists on the datastore with the same name.
Map the file
Once the virtual floppy drive file is on the datastore, it will need to be mapped to the virtual machine’s floppy drive. Be sure to click the device status dialog boxes for selecting if the device is connected at power on. The default value is to not have the device connected. Depending on the configuration of these options, the boot behavior of the virtual machine may be impacted.
Client Device option
For occasional access to a floppy disk, the Client Device option may suit administrators best. This option is configured in the virtual machine’s inventory.
Select redirection options
The Client Device option is an extension of the vSphere Client installed on an administrator’s or virtual machine user’s desktop. Clicking the virtual floppy icon and following the menu allows the user to specify a number of virtual machine floppy drive redirection options.
The “Connect to A:” option will map the floppy drive of the system that the vSphere Client is running to the virtual machine. A floppy image can also be mapped from the vSphere Client using the “Connect to floppy image on local disk” instead of uploading the image to a VMFS datastore.
The other options to connect to the host’s floppy drive (if installed) as well as map a .FLP file can be done from the vSphere Client. These two options are a bit smoother than going back into the virtual machine inventory to make the same change.