It's been 10 years since I've used a laptop like this, never with Linux. I think there could possibly be a specific driver (or kernel module) or it won't matter, as typically the floppy uses /dev/fd0 which is a different device file.
What make is the laptop? You might be able to check with them as well for any tips.
Is 0000000 all that was returned? Makes me think there could be a driver issue.
Sorry the thoughts are a little random tonight!