- Good software support. Must be easy to convert from IPF to IMG or whatever an emulator uses.
- Cross platform tools. You must be able to handle the image regardless if you use Windows, OS X or Linux.
Give it some time, I'm sure some people will perfect libdisk or create something similar. There's (sadly) not many people interested/involved in preservation work / coding.
But hey, if someone can make a simple dumper tool that works on regular PC floppy drives (USB ones especially) and at the same time make a converter tool then yes, I would definately consider the format.
There's no way you can use USB floppies for dumping non-trivial disks. Most of these don't even work with the special install floppies used in Windows 95 or OS/2 (formatted at 1.7MB). They have all the data decoding built-in. What you want/need is raw bitstream timings. Even original PC floppy controllers can only do that in a very limited fashion (and these tend to get rare, since all the new "integrated chipset" peripherals start stripping away most of the complicated stuff and present themselves more and more like USB floppies)
we can't convert the whole collection to a new format every so many years.
It's a nondestructive operation (that could be automated given the right tools, see above) so I don't see a problem.
But I wasn't suggesting moving to IPF as primary format. That would be overkill for most disks, and since many(?) of the disk images on the FTP are probably not from "original" disks but from copies (of copies..) there's nothing that would be gained. BUT for all disks with copy protection (or bad sectors), IPF would be vastly more helpful than no image file at all (or one with missing sectors) since you can recover bad blocks from an IPF file quite easily (it's in fact one of the things SoftPres/KryoFlux will do for you when you send in your dumps)
So perhaps we have to live with the fact that copy protections etc get lost in the tides of history? I try to use CloneCD/Alcohol120% when I dump optical discs but for floppies all I got is raw img basically.
Yeah, and even the Alcohol120% images don't include all data required for 100% perfect replication of copy protection schemes (e.g. starforce, PSX libcrypt, etc.). They include their own virtual CD driver so that they can later "fake" the copy protection. When you think about it, that is even worse: What if the company behind Alcohol120% goes bankrupt? Their virtual CD drive is also closed source, and you end up with an image that you *know* is protected by some protection scheme, but with no idea on how to fake/emulate that protection... All your protected ISOs are suddenly worthless
(yeah, I know I'm exaggerating a bit, since the old versions will still run on your PC and all, but I hope you see what I mean)
Another addition: I've read up on the KryoFlux hardware and the IPF format and despite its technical advantages the entire thing is doomed to fail. Why? Because the developers do absolutely nothing to open up the format and hardware to the public, despite their claims of trying to preserve things.
Not exactly true, they did open up their decoder library (I regard the MAME license as open, even if it's not OSI certified) and they are still open to the idea of releasing even more as "open source" in the future. At this point they're only concerned about everyone making IPFs of all their cracked disks so that later finding the "correct" dumps is as hard as it already is today. Right now you can be pretty sure that an IPF file comes indeed from an original, unmodified disk. I don't think that's such a bad course of action.
The right thing for them to do, obviously, would be to cryptographically sign all their IPF files and then release the format in a completely OSI certified way, which would solve their main concern. As far as I can tell that is still something they're considering
The KryoFlux hardware creates a "stream" of the floppy that has to be sent to them so they can convert it to IPF. So you can't do it on your own, which means you need to rely on them to do it, and as soon as they decide that they are tired of it the format along with everything else disappears.
You seem to think that the intermediate file format that gets created from the device is somehow encrypted or proprietary. That is simply not the case. The bitstream format that the KryoFlux device sends to the PC (I think it's called DRAFT) is very simple and doesn't really *need* any documentation (other than maybe the timebase used, and even that can be guessed from the raw data). It basically contains the number of "timer ticks" between two opposing magentic areas on the floppy (try opening one of the intermediate files in an Hex Editor that can generate histograms, you'll see what I mean). It's the lowest common denominator from which all other formats can be easily re-created, not only now but in the future as well.
Of course, right now, you need to send that file (it's actually a bunch of files, totalling many megabytes for a single floppy) to KryoFlux to have it converted to IPF. But you don't need to do that. Maybe someone will come up with their own GPL'ed "raw" file format. Boom, instantly converted. Or KryoFlux decides to open up the format and release an IPF encoder. Boom, instantly converted. Or you decide it's enough to simply have an IMG file.. boom, instantly converted.
Finally, we all know that the conclusion "it's not open, so it will fail" does not hold true
Look at Apple's success. And Microsoft. etc. etc