Notes on OS/2 Disk Usage I
By: Walter Metcalf
Recently, a burst of development activity on the OS/2 client resulting in Convenience Paks, Fixpaks, and
post-Fixpaks, in addition to the release of the eComStation preview have substantially altered many of the
traditional facts about the way hard disk drives are accessed. The recent explosion in hard drive capacity
has only complicated the issue.1 It is the purpose of this series of articles to
attempt to bring these new or modified facts into one place where they can be readily accessed. Consequently,
these articles will cover a fairly broad range of topics, though all will be related to reading or writing
- In Fixpak 14 (or possibly in one of its post-fixes), IBM slipped in a long-overdue (and
undocumented) fix to Boot Manager. This important change allows BM to correctly identify
Windows 9x FAT-32 partitions. Previously, Boot Manager (and FDISK for that matter) did not
recognize FAT-32 partitions, and this often caused it to assign the wrong drive letter to
OS/2 partitions causing the boot to fail. Often the OS/2 user was forced to purchase a
third-party boot manager such as
System Commander Deluxe or
Power Boot to be able to properly handle multiple
operating systems. I have found that with the latest fix, Boot Manager will now often do the
job without the need for third-party products.
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The post-fixes to Fixpak 14 introduced two minor but very useful enhancements to the available
Pressing this key combination while the white "boot-block" is displayed in the upper-lefthand
corner of the screen has the same effect as pressing ALT-F1 and ALT-F2 simultaneously.
In other words, an OS/2 command line is displayed AND the name of each driver is
displayed as it is loaded.
If a file by the name of ALTF2ON.$$$ exists in the directory \OS2\BOOT on the boot drive, then
the system will behave as though ALT-F2 has been pressed. This feature can be very useful
while trying to track down a difficult boot-up or CONFIG.SYS bug.
- Utility Disks
Fixpak 14 also introduced an important change related to the creation of utility diskettes and
similar entities. Formerly, creating boot diskettes, utility diskettes, or maintenance
partitions required insertion of either the Warp distribution CD or diskette so that the boot
sector could be written, and certain kernel-level files could be copied, to the target disk.
Since the OS/2 Warp Client kernel was replaced with Warp Server for e-Business client in Fixpak
13, this approach no longer worked. To overcome this, Fixpak 14 created a new directory
"\OS2\INSTALL\BOOTDISK" on the boot drive. Now to create utility or maintenance disks, the
user simply specifies that as the source instead of the CD or floppy.
Here is a simple command for creating a useful maintenance partition using the above
BOOTOS2 SOURCE=C:\OS2\INSTALL\BOOTDISK TARGET=E: TYPE=WPS REXX HELP VDM VGA SYSED FORMAT:NONE GA400
BOOTOS2.926 can be downloaded from
1 A good example is the hard drive I bought only nine months ago. It was then considered a very fast, quite large hard drive. It is now difficult to find one that small. In addition, it used the brand new ATA66 technology. Now ATA100 is very common.