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February 2001

Graham Utilities for OS/2
Task Manager

By Mark Dodel ©February 2001

Referenced web sites:
The Graham Utilities for OS/2 Version 2.1: http://www.warpspeed.com.au/

The Graham Utilities 2.1

I've been using the Graham Utilities for a while now. To be honest I haven't had much need for most of the package. But note that the package contains about 65 separate utilities. Some are very useful like the HPFS File Undelete, EABackup/EARestore, DiskEdit, DiskImage, Grep, HPFS and FAT file Defragment utilities, and more then I have room to write here. Some are rather obscure, especially for a PC only user, like ToUNIX, XXdecode, XXEncode, UUDecode and UUEncode. A complete list of all included features can be found at http://www.warpspeed.com.au/graham.htm

The feature that I find my self using the most is the Task Manager. This was added to the Graham Utilities package with the 2.01.01 update (what Chris Graham, the author calls a CSD). Chris puts out CSD's for his utilities package quite regularly, about every 3 - 6 months. In fact, I first heard about the Task Manager at a Speakup event on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) with Chris Graham. (A transcript of that event can be viewed at http://www.os2voice.org/logs/V072098.LOG.html). He allowed all in attendance to download a beta version of it. We were like kids in a candie store. :-)

I have been running the Graham Utilities since I purchased the electronic download version a couple years ago. It is also available on CDROM and Floppy. Documentation in the download version is an INF file. The CDROM version includes INF, HTML, Postscript and PDF versions of the documentation. There is also an online manual at http://www.warpspeed.com.au/toc.htm There are 32bit. 16bit and even a PowerPC version available. (I wonder how many PowerPC versions are in use?) Most of the utilities included in the package are VIO text mode and can be easily used at an OS/2 command prompt. There is a VIO application called the Graham Integrator, which is a front end for all the VIO utilities. You can use the up/down cursor arrow keys to select a utility and then a help message appears to the right showing what parameters can be used as well as a description of what the utility does. The command to execute it is placed in a text entry field at the bottom of the window.

The OS/2 Task Manager

The OS/2 Task Manager is a PM application, using the standard OS/2 tab notebook layout. One of the features of the Task Manager that intrigued me when I first heard about it at the Speakup, was Memory Compaction. According to Chris "It physically commits all of your physical memory at once! This forces just about everything to be paged out. It will then be reloaded as needed. Think of it as forcable garbage collection.". So if your system loads a lot of things into memory, but isn't using them, by selecting Memory menu and then Memory Compact, the system RAM immediately goes down to 512K and the disk churns a bit. On my 128 Meg RAM/Dual Pentium Pro 200 system, I get a clock pointer for about 20 seconds and then available RAM goes from about 77 Meg up to 130 Meg. But as soon as I do anything (like typing this article in Home Page Publisher) the available RAM again begins to gradually decrease. This feature is great if you have done a lot of graphics work or perhaps scanning or sometimes just surfing the net with Communicator/2 and used up a lot of RAM which isn't all freed even though you have closed the application that reserved all the memory.

By adding a -c command line parameter to a program object for taskmgr.exe, you can have Task Manager compact memory on startup. By adding a -e command line parameter, Task Manager will exit when it's done. With those together as -ce, you can create a Task Manager object that when run will free up RAM, and then exit.

The only other command line parameter available is one to set which page to open to on startup. Since there are four pages, the available parameter is -1, -2, -3, or -4 equating to the page tab order. I like to start it up with the -3 parameter so that it opens to the Performance page.

The Task Manager will automatically recognize more then one processor if you have a multi-processor system. You can use a spin button on the Performance page to select the CPU to display Usage History for. Task Manager supports up to 64 CPUs. With the latest CSD, you can now check All CPUs, and the graph will combine the data for all CPUs in use. However you can not control CPUs from within Task Manager. To do that you have to run OS/2's SMP Monitor (pictured below), which has a Status function which displays which CPUs are active and allows you to turn off a selected processor by just double clicking on it. The SMP monitor is the equivalent of the Pulse CPU monitor included in Warp 4. It first appeared in Warp Server eBusiness and is now part of the MCP (Merlin Convenience Pak) and eComStation. Though SMP support is only available as an option with eCS.

All the display windows in the Task Manager are updated periodically as set by the refresh rate set under the View menu item. You can select Slow/Medium/Fast or a custom update time from 100 ms to 10,000 ms. The Application page displays all the running applications that would appear in the OS/2 Window List. From here you can select a task and either select End Task to close it, Switch To to bring the application to the top focus. Finally there is a New Task button on the page which opens up a file selection screen so you can start any executable application. This is not quite as nice as the Enhanced Window List in Stardock's Object Desktop 2.0 which has an entry field on the screen which will accept any command you can enter at an OS/2 Command Prompt.

The Processes page shows all running processes and a great deal of information about each process. You can select a process from the list and then click on the End Task button to close it. I'm not sure of what process killer logic it uses, but as with every other process killer I have used under OS/2, it is not 100% successful in killing hung apps.

The last tab in the Task Manager is for drives. This page shows a bar graph for all available drives. From this you get an idea of how much space is used and how much is free. Unfortunately the actual volume size is not shown, just the percent that is in use.

By double clicking on one of the drive graphs you get a more detailed screen, showing space available, space used, space that is still free, the file system type and the drives volume label. There is also a graph of disk usage.

Final words

Some of the features are not fully documented in the online help or the applications help. You have to read through the lengthy new-info.txt file to learn about what has been added with each update.

One ongoing annoyance with this package is that when I apply an update, it rebuilds the entire GU folder and puts a shadow of it on my desktop. This rebuilding of the folder deletes any objects I have created or changes to object settings (like the -3 parameter on taskmgr.exe) and removes them from Warpcenter. So I have to drag it back to Warpcenter, then move the folder back to my Utilities folder and then recreate the special Memory Compaction object and add the -3 parameter to the Task Manager object. That's a small thing that I am willing to tolerate since Chris has been great about putting out frequent updates which not only fix problems, but have also added enhancements like the Task Manager.

I haven't mentioned this annoyance to Chris, so maybe it can be corrected. I did ask him about the ability to save the window size settings on exit. When Task Manager opens up it takes up a lot of screen space, and I found I was always resizing the window. I sent Chris an email asking if it was possible to fix this, and he immediately responded that he would look at the problem. The next day he sent me a new version of taskmgr.exe which saved the window size so long as I exited using the File -> Exit menu item or the F3 exit accelerator key. but doesn't if I click on the X button on the title bar. This is not a problem since I only resize it the first time I open it. It's great to see such fast support from a developer.

Although not worth the price of this package by itself, the Graham Utilities Task Manager is a very handy utility. If you can use some of the other included utilities like the HPFS file Undelete, the disk editor, HPFS defragmenter, Disk Image (which allows you to do an image copy of either a physical disk to another disk, or a logical partition/volume to another drive), or one or more of the other useful utilities in this package then it is money well spent. Right now the disk utilities only support FAT and HPFS. For those of us that have moved up to JFS (Journaled File System included with WSeB/MCP and eCS), we continue to await these utilities. Hopefully they can be incorporated into a later version of the Graham Utilities.

The Graham Utilities 2.1 can be purchased either directly from the developer's website or from any of a number of OS/2 resellers like Indelible Blue ( listed at $89USD, or $64 with no documentation ) or Mensys( $49.95USD/€53.18Euro for the electronic download version ). A somewhat outdated list of vendors can be found at http://www.warpspeed.com.au/ordering.htm. From Chris Graham's Warpspeed site you can purchase the version 2.0 CD or floppies and a manual for a special price of $89AUD or $69USD. http://www.warpspeed.com.au/special.htm You can then apply the latest CSD which brings it up to the 2.1 version.

I will try to cover more of the utilities included in the Graham Utilities in future articles, but as I have said earlier, I rarely find a need for most of them. However it's nice to know that they are there if I need them.

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