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The floppy diskette was the first read/write media suitable for personal computers. Starting at physical measurements that seem ridiculous for todays standards, it got smaller over time and found a notebook suitable sizes in the 3.5" form factor.

A floppy disk is a single plastic disk covered in a layer of iso-magnetic material. For protection the more modern versions come in a plastic casing with a metal lever that provides access for the read and write head when pulled open. Information is saved on a floppy by reconfiguration of the state of the magnetic particles in the data layer through the electromagnetic write-head.

There are various successors of the classical magnetic floppy disk, such as LS-120 and LS-240, ZIP or MO media.

Floppy drives in ThinkPads

ThinkPads with builtin Floppy drives

The oldest ThinkPads had built-in floppy diskette drives.

1.44MB HD Floppy

2.88MB ED Floppy

These machines need floppy=thinkpad appended to the Linux kernel parameters.

ThinkPads with swappable Floppy drives

With the introduction of the modular swappable UltraBay drives, ThinkPads floppy drives got removable. They could be exchanged for other drives like optical ones and could instead be attached externally via a special cable set. The first of such drives were found in the following ThinkPads:

UltraBay FX models

With the UltraBay FX IBM introduced floppy drives combined with optical drives in one single module. Models with these not externally attachable drives were:

UltraSlimBay models

With the UltraSlimBay models IBM provided a proprietary external floppy port that was built into many models including those featuring the UltraBay 2000. It can therefore be assumed that UltraSlimBay floppy drives and UltraBay 2000 floppy drives work on the external port of all the models. An adapter that enabled connection to the standard parallel port was also provided with the external cable set for those floppys, making them suitable for older models as well. Hence these drives can be used to boot quite a few models of ThinkPads. Such drives were suitable for the following models:

UltraBay 2000 models

Other models featuring the floppy port

ThinkPads without Floppy drives

Current machines do not come with floppy drives, but you can buy a USB floppy drive if you're feeling nostalgic.


Several distributions can be installed by first booting a floppy diskette (or six) and then installing over a network. It can be a relatively painless way of installing an OS on an older machine. These distributions directly support such methods:

Other distributions can be coaxed into installing over a network, with a bit of work: