Linux Step By Steps

Zip Drives - Getting a USB Zipdrive to work

By Marianne Taylor
Last revised Dec 26, 2000
Tested on eDesktop 2.4

Warning - this stepbystep involves recompiling your kernel. Not for the faint of heart and most newbies. Go to the StepbyStepSite and read the section on recompiles.

  1. Obtain kernel 2.2.18 from
    This kernel contains the latest USB drivers backported to the 2.2.XX kernels
  2. Recompile the kernel and install as detailed on the stepbystep site in the section on recompiles.

    Make certain to either compile in USB support or make it available as modules. You need at least CONFIG_USB, CONFIG_USB_UHCI, CONFIG_USB_OHCI and CONFIG_USB_STORAGE. If you have other USB devices you may want to select more.

    These drives also use scsi support so remember to turn this on in the kernel. Also you will need at least SCSI disk support, and SCSI generic support. You might need more if you have other devices. I have a CD-R and also select SCSI CD-ROM support.

  3. Once you have the kernel working reboot.
  4. You must decide which adapter driver to use. If you have an Intel or Via based board you will need usb-ohci.o, if you have Compaq, iMacs, OPTi, Sis, ALi then you need uhci.o.

    If you aren't sure check /proc/pci and look for the USB entry. If this entry is of the form 0xe400 then it is UHCI and if it looks like 0xee000000 then it is OHCI. Failing that just try one or both.

  5. Load the scsi drivers needed as follows:

    Modprobe sg.

    Modprobe ide-scsi.

  6. Load the USB drivers required by executing the following commands:

    Modprobe usbcore

    Modprobe usb-uhci or Modprobe usb-ohci.

    Modprobe usb-storage

  7. If you want these modules to be available the next time you boot add these lines to /etc/modules/default.

    usb-ohci or usb-uhci

  8. Next you need to set up /etc/fstab to be able to mount the drive. An appropriate entry would be:

    /dev/sda4 /mnt/zip vfat noauto user 0 0

  9. Make the appropriate directory for mounting the drive.

    mkdir /mnt/zip

  10. Mount the drive by executing the following command:

    mount /dev/sda4 /mnt/zip

    Alternatively you can mount the drive by hand with the following command
    mount -t vfat /dev/sda4 /mnt/zip .
    I find this gets tedious and I prefer to access my drive with an icon on the desktop see below.

  11. You can set up an icon to mount the drive from your desktop in KDE. Note these instructions apply to KDE 1.1.2. I haven't delved into KDE2 yet.

    Right click on the desktop and choose New and then File system device. Name the drive on the window that comes up by selecting Device and replacing it with whatever you want. Then go to the Device tab and fill in the Device window. An appropriate entry would be /dev/sda4. Violá

Further information about USB and the Linux USB project can be found at