by Tony Butka, Southern California OS2 Users Group
original SCOUG article
As many of you know, I've been using Partition Magic since Version 3.0 and have found it to be the best partitioning tool for OS/2 or any other operating system. Over time, however, the PowerQuest folks went with the market and started limiting their OS/2 support. While we could still use the DOS binaries from a boot disk, by Version 6 Partition Magic support for OS/2 had become pretty limited, and by Version 7 they have dropped HPFS support (actually, if you already have HPFS installed it will recognize the partition, but will no longer allow you to create one). And all the latest OS/2 releases, from Warp Server for eBusiness to the Convenience Pak to eComStation, use the new kernels with IBM's own LVM disk management subsystem and its own method of recognizing partitions or creating a journalled file system (JFS). Partition Magic will not work with LVM or JFS, and Power Quest has no intention at the current time of adding this support. So what do we do in the OS/2 community for a decent disk partitioning tool?
DFSee is an FDISK-like display, analysis and recovery tool with powerful FIX commands and UNDELETE for HPFS and NTFS. It is written by Jan van Wijk, who originally wrote a stripped-down version of the program for his own day job use with multiple operating systems. Well, Jan was kind enough to do a demonstration at a SCOUG meeting last summer, and we really encouraged him to update and extend the program for commercial use. Evidently we were not the only ones who encouraged him, since DFSee is now shareware and has undergone at least three revisions in short order! Details and latest versions can always be found at:
While at SCOUG we've encouraged our members to use DFSee. But, a number of folks have been a little concerned about how powerful the program is, and with the limited documentation they are afraid of trashing their systems - fancy that! As a result they have not actually used DFSee yet. That is a shame, and my fear is that when combined with the new disk partitioning/handling tools for OS/2 like LVM and JFS, a "few more" OS/2 users will get frustrated and give up on a terrific operating system which is seriously stable, bug free, and avoids most of the viruses and worms that inhabit today's Internet.
That concern is also the reason for this introductory tutorial (of course it helps that Jan is a very nice guy), which we donate to the cause in hopes that more people who have to use multiple operating systems will take advantage of a very cool program.
DFSee comes as a zip file. To install the program, simply create a directory wherever you want, and unzip the program files into that directory. That's it.
To create a workplace shell link, simply drag a program template icon to your desktop, and refer it to the path and filename of the main DFSee program; for OS/2 that's DFS.EXE. In the case of my system, that was c:\usr\prg\dfsee\dfs.exe. Wherever you put the program, close the template dialog box, up pops the icon and you're ready to go.
OK, this is neat. Remember how Partition Magic had you create a special two floppy disk set to boot DOS and run Partition Magic? Well, you can do the same thing with DFSee except on one diskette. When you unzipped DFSee, four executables were created. The one for OS/2 is DFS.EXE. There also are two for DOS and one for Windows/NT in the directory. The ones we care about here are the two DOS programs.
Just fire up the DOS boot disk, type in either DFSDOS or DFSMDOS (which ever one you put on your boot disk) from the A:> prompt, and up comes the DFSee program. Just as cool, if you have the memory, the DFSDOS program interface for DOS is the same as it is for OS/2, so there's nothing to "relearn" to get the program to work between OS/2, DOS, or Windows. And the command line version works just the same, only without the scroll window.
As an aside (I can't help myself), this emergency disk can be handy for machines that have NTFS partitions only, or NTFS and HPFS only. I have a client who has an all SCSI NT system with all NTFS partitions, and when something happened to his boot partition, he was out of luck. When Partition Magic (I think it was version 6, but maybe 5) was booted from DOS, it would not recognize his partition structure because it couldn't find any DOS/FAT partitions on the hard disks. He was a very unhappy camper (it's called reinstall), but if he'd had DFSee, we might have been able to save him.
OK. Before we do anything that could possibly do anything to your computer, we're going to fire up DFSee and check out the interface. So either double click on the program icon that we've created, or go to the DFSee directory and from a command line type dfs. Up comes the program, and you get a registration message if you haven't already registered the program. Simply press the spacebar, and a bunch of stuff scrolls by you.
When it is done loading, here's what you'll see:
I have been told that this is is the point where many new users choke, not being able to figure out what to do next and how to get back and forth between the command line (green bracketed area) and the top window that scrolls.
It's really simple; just press the <Tab> key!
That's it. You are now at the top part of the screen, and can scroll up and down using your keyboard's arrow keys. Practice scrolling up and down, left and right, and going back and forth between the command line and the buffer by using the <Tab> key.
Now let's get really bold. From the command line, press the <Cntrl> key and while holding it down, also press the Up arrow key. This allows you to stay in the command line while scrolling up and down to view the contents of the buffer in the upper window. Pretty cool, isn't it?
Actually, there are a number of ways to get around the screen. For example, without having to use the <Ctrl> or <Tab> key, you can use <PgUp> and <PgDn> to scroll a whole page up/down while staying in the command line.
Or, apart from the arrow keys, you can use <Ctrl>+<Home> and <Ctrl>+<End> to go the start / end of all the text in the scroll-area. And if you aren't sure what to do, there is also good help on this if you just hit <F1> - I should note that help improved significantly in version 4.04 and later.
Finally, press <F3> to exit the program. That's it for the basics that have thrown a lot of people.
Just as with Partition Magic, fdisk, and other partitioning programs that do low level stuff to your computer, with DFSee you can inadvertently make changes to your system which will render it inoperable.
So, before you play around and make changes, we want to make a backup of all the important partition sectors to a file. To do this:
If you are a command line junkie you can open an OS/2 window, go to the directory where DFSee lives, and type in the command:
Now we are going to create a couple of log files for that "just in case" problem where you may need help if something goes wrong. These files can be kept on the hard disk, so you can remove your emergency floppy. To create the log file:
We're almost done. The last preliminary step is to collect information to perform a manual un-fdisk (find all boot sectors) if needed. You can either accomplish this task from the green command line or run an OS/2 CMD file. To use the command line, you will type in the following:
To generate the file automatically instead of typing in each command (which is the method strongly recommended by the author) simply run DFSUNFD.CMD (OS/2 version) or DFSUNFD.BAT (DOS version) from a command line. This collects info for every physical disk and generates a 'dfsundfdx.log' file for each one. If you're not sure exactly how this works, type DFSUNFD ? from the command line for a help pop-up.
Note: According to the programs author, Jan van Wijk, when the geometry of the disk might have changed, after a BIOS LBA change, SCSI adapter change, etc, you should run the command DFSUNFD ALL.
That basically covers the stuff you should do before getting serious with DFSee. At this point you can close the program (F3), and backup your system before going crazy with all the neat things you can do using DFSee.
Just to give you a taste of the awesome power of DFSee (and just in case you were already in trouble when you downloaded the program), here are a few examples. For lots more, see the dfshowto.txt file included with the program.
These commands should be run from the DFSee command line after you have started the program.
Note: with a damaged spareblock you can get various error messages from OS/2 about codepages or other things. However when starting DFSee and selecting the partition it will tell you the spareblock is damaged.
Use "delsave" command to copy the deleted files to a directory, see (5)
Notes: - It's best to use a different drive to avoid overwriting - You can also undelete a single file using the 'saveto' command and specifying the file's sequence-number: .NNN shown at the left
Find all sectors that are unreadable:
Now replace the internal bad-sector list with the new modified one:
Notes: - You can do this in one step too, no need to export/import
When CHKDSK recovers files it will place them in a FOUND.xxx directory in the root-directory. This directory contains one or more recovered files with names like FILE0001.CHK The original name of the file is still in the Fnode, and it can be shown using the following dhpfs commands (assuming partition 03) :
Now 15 characters of the original name are shown as "Fnode Name String"
Enough from me. These examples are taken from the file dfshowto.txt, which you should seriously read. Practice with a few of the commands to get comfortable with the program, which for us OS/2 users is everything that Partition Magic started out to be and then abandoned just to make a living.
Remember, right now DFSee is a wonderful tool, but it does not have all the goodies that PowerQuest's Partition Magic has. Most important for OS/2 users is the ability to format, resize and move partitions (although I have always been a little suspicious of any programs ability to move partitions and pick up every single file dependency). What it does do, it does well, and if you have problems with your OS/2 drive subsystem, DFSee can literally save your partition and your sanity.
Oh yeah, register the product. I did. It's only about $18 US and that's how we provide Jan the money for the time to keep working on the program and add some other neat goodies we all want.
Note: Current pricing, version 7.xx is 43 Euros, about $55 US
Copyright 2001 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS
Copyright 2001 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.