The Graham Utilities for OS/2: A Review - Part 1

By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 01/13/99

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.

  1. Graham Integrator

    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.)

  2. 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.

  3. Disk Information (DI)

    1. 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

  4. 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 M. Kozierok

Saved by Chris Graham © 1998 Peter Skye

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