By: Walter Metcalf
The Graham Utilities for OS/2 is a
package of 76 separate programs and modules, including general, system, disk, and
file utilities, thereby justifying its claim to be the largest, most comprehensive
suite of OS/2 utilities, This grandfather of OS/2 utility suites was written by
enthusiastic OS/2 supporter Chris Graham.
It is currently distributed as a CD containing the original, a diskette containing
all the the updates made since then, and 424-page paperback manual.
Installing the original CD is pretty simple, although I found a couple of terms
confusing at first. Installing the update, or Corrective Service Disk, on the other
hand, was a real adventure! It took me several emails to the author to complete
the update. Fortunately Chris answered my pleas for help very promptly.
The RSU method, seemingly preferred by the author, avoids many of the problems
I encountered using the manual approach. (Read the documentation
posted by the author, and follow it carefully.)
Unfortunately, both methods encounter one final problem: there is a bug in the
"locked file" procedure. What this means is that during installation my
machine hung on the final (required) reboot. According to the author the patch must
be applied manually. Here's how to do it:
To apply the patch manually, boot to a command prompt, and copy all of the files
in the Locked directory to your GU directory [e.g. D:\GU20\Locked. WM].
Clean up config.sys [i.e. delete the lines referring to "LANLK.SYS"--normally
the first two lines. WM] and ignore the references to W.MSG.
[From email from Chris Graham.]
You shouldn't let these problems scare you away from the product, however. I found
I was glad I persevered.
A good overview of each of the components in the Graham Utilities package can
be found in the BMT Micro electronic
catalogue. I won't attempt to repeat that information here, but will concentrate
on some of the more significant ones, and briefly compare and contrast this package
with Gammatech Utilities 4.0.
In many ways, the author appears to have organized and marketted his product
as a Norton Utilities clone
for OS/2.¹ Nowhere is this more evident in this program that's a OS/2 mirror
of the Norton Integrator in the Norton Utilities. Anyone who has used Norton will
be instantly comfortable with this program.
The Integrator displays a two-column window with most of the utilities in a vertical
selectable menu on the left. When a utility is selected using a cursor bar, a brief
description of the utility, its syntax, and legal parameters, if any, are displayed
in the right column. At the bottom is a line containing the command for that utility
plus space to type in parameters of your choice. Upon pressing <Enter> the
command is passed to the system and executed. It is a very clean way of handling
a multitude of utilities.
For complete information on a command, however, you need to refer to the manual.
If the product is shipped you receive a paper manual, otherwise you can use the
easy to use online manual. (The author has also posted the manual on the internet.)
Batch Enhancer (BE)
If you like to use OS/2 command (batch) files to write procedures, you'll find this
program a real boon. It contains date and time functions, as well as functions to
permit user interaction, conditional branching, semaphores, and many others. Be
sure to read the manual to get all the functions and how to use them.
Disk Information (DI)
Unsure about the physical layout of your hard drive? Just type DI -p [p = physical]
It's worth making an observation about the cylinder and head values here. The report
for my 5.2 GB drive states:
Cylinders = 622
Heads = 255
Sectors per track = 63
You would expect a drive with the relatively large capacity I gave above to have
more than 1024 cylinders: in other words to exceed the 1024 barrier. (See my article
"Large Disks: How OS/2 Uses Them".) Indeed
the drive specifications place the number of cylinders at over 10,000 and the number
of heads at a mere 15. Does DI contain a bug? No, DI reports the geometry (configuration)
as seen by the software.
How do you explain the difference? When I installed my large hard drive, I set the
drive type in the CMOS at LBA (Large Block Addressing). This setting causes the
BIOS to perform some arithmetic "magic" so that sectors with high cylinder
number are assigned a "logical" sectors with low cylinder numbers BUT
high head numbers. In other words if OS/2 asks for data contained at [logical] sector=
0; head= 200; cylinder=153 (which is contained within the 1024 cylinder boundary),
the BIOS performs a calculation to produce an "actual" CHS containing
with high cylinder number and a low head number, and then accesses the data. Let's
face it: I don't really care where the disk drive stores my data as long as it knows
where to get it when I ask for it again.²
Graham Change Directory (GCD)
This program or command gives you a whole new way to change directories. When
started the GCD displays a tree containing all the directories and subdirectories
in the specified disk or path. Then simply select the (sub)directory you wish to
change to and press <Enter>. The specified directory is immediately displayed.
By default the command saves the directory list so that the command will execute
more quickly next time it is invoked for that drive/path.³
Next time: More Graham Utility functions including
the very powerful TaskManager.
¹However, The Graham Utilities is much richer than any version
of Norton Utilities I have ever encountered.
² For the sake of simplicity I am ignoring the need for
more accurate information required by caching and other optimization techniques.
Actually most such activity is performed by the disk controller and is therefore
based on actual (true) CHS addresses.
³Note: For the sake of complete disclosure, let me
state here that Chris Graham gave me a free copy of The
Graham Utilities for OS/2 for this review . However, I have taken due care not
to let this affect my evaluation.
For further reading:
Large Disks: How OS/2 Uses Them © 1998 Walter Metcalf
Hard Disk Logical Structures
and File Systems, The PC Guide, © 1997-98 Charles
Saved by Chris
Graham © 1998 Peter