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Giving the stick a name

As everybody else, I have quite a few USB flash drives. In order not to lose track, I like to label these drives, but I often forget that they always come FAT formatted, and then start to wonder why

tune2fs -L <Label>

won't work. *sigh*

Well, and then, just staring at one of these memory sticks, nostalgia hits hard and I start to drift away...

The first storage media I routinely handeled were 5¼-inch DD floppies which could hold 360 KB and which were introduced in 1978. These floppies were way better than the pizza sized 8-inch SSSD floppies from 1973, being able to store 240 kB on a very wobbly disk. :D

We thus wobbled along the path of our lifes, until a revolution broke out: in 1987, the 3½-inch HD floppy was presented, which most of you will know. It held an amazing 1.44 MB. M as in Mega!

Now, remember that LANs were not at all widespread at that time. I was receiving and sending E-mails as early as 1989 using the e-mail program on the VAX of the "Rechenzentrum" of the Max-Planck-Institut in Stuttgart. We could also print over the net, and since the dumb terminals we used were not capable of graphics, the long walk from the terminal to the printer was the only way to actually see the layout of our documents.

The laboratory I joined afterwards in 1992 gave me a Mac to work with. After my bitter complaints (I absolutely despised the smiling bomb when the system crashed, which happened at least twice a day), they offered me a Sun Sparc 10 workstation, which I gladly accepted (in addition to a 21" color monitor and access to the internet. I was one among three. I was the digital king. :D )

Switching gears again in 1994, networking for clients had just begun to be established. Windows NT 3.1 with TCP/IP stack had been published July 1993, and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 with TCP/IP support November 1993.

However, exchanging data with colleagues was still done exclusively with ... floppy disks. ;)

No wonder that Iomega was so successful with their ZIP drive, which stored 100 MB onto an extra fat 3½-inch disk in 1994. And no wonder that Iomega's concept started to collapse once CD-RWs with a capacity of 650 MB were marketed in 1997.

Writing on these large silvery disks, however, took time. So long that CD-RWs have never been received as a viable backup medium.

The first USB flash drive on the market in the year 2000 had a capacity of 8 MB. Nowadays, USB flash drives are unrivaled in terms of capacity, speed, and the handiness they offer. Look, this little stick I have here has the same capacity as the whole SSD of my Mini ...

And what is the name of that stick? Oh ... giving the stick a name:

echo "mtools_skip_check=1" > ~/.mtoolsrc
mlabel -i /dev/sdx ::<Label>

Don't get confused when the 'Label' appears in uppercase ... DOS names always do, remember?

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