mtools - a collection of tools for manipulating MSDOS files
mattrib - change MSDOS file attribute flags
mcd - change MSDOS directory
mcopy - copy MSDOS files to/from Unix
mdel - delete an MSDOS file
mdeltree - delete an MSDOS directory tree
mdir - display an MSDOS directory
mformat - add an MSDOS filesystem to a low-level formatted floppy disk
mlabel - make an MSDOS volume label
mmd - make an MSDOS subdirectory
mrd - remove an MSDOS subdirectory
mmove - move or rename an MSDOS file or subdirectory
mren - rename an existing MSDOS file
mtype - display contents of an MSDOS file
Mtools is a collection of free programs to allow Unix systems to read,
write, and manipulate files on an MSDOS filesystem (typically a floppy
disk). Where reasonable, each program attempts to emulate the MSDOS
equivalent command. However, unnecessary restrictions and oddities of
DOS are not emulated. For instance, it is possible to move
subdirectories from one subdirectory to another.
MSDOS filenames are optionally composed of a drive letter followed by a
colon, a subdirectory, and a filename. Filenames without a drive letter
refer to Unix files. Subdirectory names can use either the '/' or '\'
separator. The use of the '\' separator or wildcards will require the
names to be enclosed in quotes to protect them from the shell. (Note:
Wildcards in Unix filenames should not be enclosed in quotes, because
here we want the shell to expand them)
Differences with MSDOS
The regular expression "pattern matching" routines follow the Unix-style
rules. For example, '*' matches all MSDOS files in lieu of '*.*'. The
archive, hidden, read-only and system attribute bits are ignored during
All options use the '-' (minus) flag, not '/' as you'd expect in MSDOS.
Most mtools commands allow multiple filename parameters, which doesn't
follow MSDOS conventions, but which is more user-friendly.
The mcd command is used to establish the device and the current working
directory (relative to the MSDOS filesystem), otherwise the default is
assumed to be A:/. However, unlike MSDOS, there is only one working
directory, and not one per drive.
VFAT-style long filenames
This version of mtools supports VFAT style long filenames. If a Unix
filename is too long to fit in a short DOS name, it is stored as a VFAT
long name, and a companion short name is generated. This short name is
what you see when you examine the disk with a pre-7.0 version of DOS.
The following table shows some examples of short names:
Unix name MSDOS name Reason for the change
thisisatest THISISAT filename too long
alain.knaff ALAIN.KNA extension too long
prn.txt XRN.TXT PRN is a device name
.abc X.ABC null filename
hot+cold HOTXCOLD illegal character
The initial Unix-style filename (whether long or short) is also called
primary name, and the derived short name is also called secondary name.
mcopy /etc/motd a:Reallylongname
Mtools creates a VFAT entry for Reallylongname, and uses REALLYLO as a
short name. Reallylongname is the primary name, and REALLYLO is the
mcopy /etc/motd a:motd
Motd fits into the DOS filename limits. Mtools doesn't need to derivate
another name. Motd is the primary name, and there is no secondary name.
In a nutshell: The primary name is the long name, if one exists, or the
short name if there is no long name.
When writing a file to disk, its long name (primary name) or short name
may collide with an already existing file or directory. This may happen
for all commands which create new directory entries mcopy, mmd, mren, and
mmove. When a name clash happens, mtools asks you what it should do. It
offers several choices:
Overwrites the existing file. It is not possible to overwrite a
directory with a file.
Renames the newly created file. Mtools will prompt for the new
Renames the newly created file. Mtools will chose a name by itself,
skip Gives up on this file, and moves on to the next (if any).
To chose an option type its first letter at the prompt. If you use a
lower case letter, the option only applies for this file only, if you use
an upper case letter, the option applies to all files.
You may also chose options (for all files) on the command line, when
-o Overwrites primary names by default.
-O Overwrites secondary names by default.
-r Renames primary name by default.
-R Renames secondary name by default.
-a Autorenames primary name by default.
-A Autorenames secondary name by default.
-s Skip primary name by default.
-S Skip secondary name by default.
-m Ask user what to do with primary name.
-M Ask user what to do with secondary name.
By default, the user is prompted if the primary name clashes, and the
secondary name is autorenamed.
If a name clash occurs in a Unix directory, mtools only asks whether to
overwrite the file, or to skip it.
Case Sensitivity of the VFAT Filesystem
The VFAT filesystem is able to remember the case of the filenames.
However, filenames which differ only in case are not allowed to coexist
in the same directory. For example if you store a file called
LongFileName on a VFAT filesystem, mdir will show this file as
LongFileName, and not as Longfilename. However, if you then try to add
LongFilename to the same directory, it will be refused, because case is
ignored for clash checks.
The VFAT filesystem allows to store the case of a filename in the
attribute byte, if all letters of the filename are the same case, and if
all letters of the extension are the same case too. Mtools uses this
information when displaying the files, and also to generate the Unix when
mcopying to a Unix directory. This may have unexpected results when
applied to files written using an pre-7.0 version of DOS: Indeed, these
filenames map to all upper case. This is different from the behavior of
the old version of mtools which used to generate lower case Unix
Minix specific changes
The following changes have been applied to mtools to make it easier to
use under Minix:
Mtools is no longer restricted to just drive letters. One can use Minix
device names from /dev, or full devices names. So these three calls are
mcopy /etc/motd A:
mcopy /etc/motd fd0:
mcopy /etc/motd /dev/fd0:
It is even possible to use files as if they were MS-DOS devices. A 1.44M
file can be created with dd and accessed under a name that needs at least
dd if=/dev/zero of=floppy count=2880
mformat -t 80 -h 2 -s 18 ./floppy:
mcopy /etc/motd ./floppy:
The A: and B: drive letters are encoded into mtools as synonyms for fd0
and fd1. Any other drive letter, X for instance, is tried as /dev/dosX,
which may be created as a (sym)link to the real device name. (Any true
Minix addict would of course use the Minix device name instead of a drive
letter.) Mtools has been taught to use the geometry information from the
Minix device driver, so no configuration files need to be created.
Mtools can't even use configuration files under Minix. Mformat can
create an MSDOS file system on a hard disk device if one is so inclined.
It might be better to use FORMAT under MSDOS though.
All the Mtools commands return 0 on success, 1 on utter failure, or 2 on
partial failure. All the Mtools commands perform a few sanity checks
before going ahead, to make sure that the disk is indeed an MSDOS disk
(as opposed to, say an ext2 or minix disk). These checks may reject
partially corrupted disks, which might otherwise still be readable. To
avoid these checks, set the MTOOLS_SKIP_CHECK environmental variable.
mattrib(1), mcd(1), mcopy(1), mdel(1), mdir(1), mformat(1), mlabel(1),
mmd(1), mmount(1), mmove(1), mrd(1), mren(1), mtype(1).
An unfortunate side effect of not guessing the proper device (when
multiple disk capacities are supported) is an occasional error message
from the device driver. These can be safely ignored.