Castlewood ORB

The ORB is both inexpensive and contains a good amount of data (2.2GB per disk, which can compress up to 6GB).
Linux Installation

The Linux installation was also easy. The ORB device acts like an OnSpec device, which is supported by Linux. Here is a quick installation guide, followed by the steps.

/sbin/modprobe paride
/sbin/modprobe on26
/sbin/modprobe pd
mknod /dev/pda5 b 45 5
mount -tmsdos /dev/pda5 /mnt/orb

The first step is to load the necessary modules. Three modules are required, and unless you link them in your kernel, you need to load them when you boot up. The first module is paride, the parallel driver which handles IDE devices. The second is the OnSpec26 driver, which should find the drive. The pd module should load the disk.

Once the drive and disk are found, you need to mount the disk. By default, the media is formatted as an extended FAT16 partition. The first four partitions in a Linux file system are “primary”; number five and up are called “extended”. This means you need to create a device named pda5. The mknod command will do just that. The mount command will mount the partition in /mnt/orb, assuming you have created that directory.

If you have problems mounting the drive, you may want to look in your syslog files. These should contain report messages from the module's loading and tell you what is wrong.


The first time I used it, I noticed how silent it was. You can't even hear it write to the disk. When you first insert a disk, you hear the same sound as when you boot a system, and the BIOS loads the hard drive. When the disk is loaded, you can mount it and read/write directly to the disk.

I noticed two problems when working with the ORB. First, when the system has large files to write to a removable ORB media, it becomes very occupied and unresponsive during the time it is writing to the disk. I am assuming this is because it has to write via the parallel port, and the system needs to send the data at a fixed speed and compression.

The other thing I noticed is the speed, which while better than every other removable media I have tried in the past, is still not as good as an internal IDE drive. The 2MB/sec advertised is the burst speed. I found the write speed to be around 100 to 200KB/sec, transmitting around 10MB in a minute.


With its low cost, ease of use and included software, the ORB is a good product to buy. Now I use it to do all of my local backups and store important archive files which I may need in the future, such as Netscape Communicator and Word Perfect 8.

I think the Castlewood ORB is the best removable media yet, and it is great that it works in most popular operating systems including Windows, OS/2, DOS and Linux. I would like to see Castlewood provide formal support for Linux and their web site advertise the fact that ORB works on Linux.

Patrick Lambert is currently a student in Computer Science at the University of Montréal. He has been using various UNIX and Linux systems for five years, doing software development and systems administration. He can be reached at



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Download Orb tools and drivers/ here is what you seek

Anonymous's picture

"Is there somewhere I could find a driver for the 2.2gb Orb please."

Right here my friend.

I just got my orb drive and love it. Can't imagine how awesome this thing would have been in '99. I'm running Linux mint 64-bit and it seems to be operating just fine. I didn't even download the drivers or software and I haven't got around to really experimenting with this thing or not. So I don't know If I can compress it or reformat it or not.

Really all this thing seems to be is a standard hard drive encased in a removable disk so I don't see why i wouldn't be compatible with any and all computers and os's made in the past decade or into the future.

If I encounter any issues with mine I'll be sure to report them here, but as I said I'm using Linux and it seems to be just plug and play.


franciswiech's picture

I have an old ORB external disk driver Model ORB2PE00 and the floppy disk with the driver on it has become corrupted and I need to download a new one. Is there somewhere I could find a driver for the 2.2gb Orb please.


BILL LARSEN's picture


external 2.2b orb drivers

RRich's picture

Where can I down load the drivers for the orb 2.2 gb ext hard drive?

Where can I find an adaptor

Steve  McKoy's picture

Where can I find an adaptor for the castlewood zip drive. It's 5VDC, 1.5 A. Thanks! Steve

Re: Product Review: Castlewood ORB

Anonymous's picture


I was wondering if you have tried to restore from the ORB diskettes the information. I purchased and been using a USB ORB 2.2GB castlewood drive and for the fist time I had the need to restore my data from the backups I have done on the ORB diskettes. I had made backups for my wife's computer and for my own computer as well on the ORB's diskettes. All three, I have problems recovering data from, While restoring with MS backup utility, the utility tells me that the files are corrupted. Also some other files that I had copied to the ORB disk I cannot access at all. I have tried to copy the files out, or open them with the application (such as MS WORD or quicken) and the files are corrumpte. I run a disk scan and it found all sort of problems such us file sizes in directory do not match actual file size, files overlapping on same cluster. I also read a comment from another client having the same sort of problems with the product.

atte. Alejandro Sosa

Re: Product Review: Castlewood ORB

Anonymous's picture


I noticed the same thing when doing a backup using full compatibility mode - ie: backup device = ORB Drive.... I then checked with Seagate software (they supply Microsoft with the backup software for Win..98) they told me to use file compatibility mode - ie: backup device = path to the ORB disk. Using this method I got excellent drive response and the backups where good - all restores where perfect. Apparently this is due to the software treats the ORB like a ZIP disk however the disk access and encoding is not the same - therefore when full compatibility mode is used the data gets scrambled on the ORB, when you use file compatiblity it treats the disk like any hard drive and this works fine.