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July 2003

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CAD Handler

By Mark Dodel© July 2003

Recently in Hobbes incoming I saw a new (to me anyway), program called CAD Handler. This is a very simple VIO (non-graphical, text-only) app from Veit Kannegieser. This is a program to capture the Control - Alt - Delete key combination and display a full screen text window with a menu of several options instead of the normal OS/2 action of forcing the file systems to close and reboot the system.

Its easy to install. Beginning with the May 19, 2003 release there is now a WarpIn WPI installation file to install CADH. If you have WarpIn installed just double click on this file and you will be guided through the simple installation process. If you prefer to manually install it, just copy the driver CADH.SYS to x:\os2\boot, add a line basedev=CADH.SYS to config.sys and start the program CAD_POP.EXE from either startup.cmd or a program object in the startup folder. The included CMD file to create a desktop object failed for me so I had to create the program object myself. It worked fine on a different system, and placed a program object for CAD_POP.EXE in the Startup Folder.

There isn't much in the way of documentation though. The hobbes txt file says it requires Top (a system process monitoring utility), which I have already been using for years.

The main CADH menu

C ..... Run Command Shell starts a full screen command prompt.
T ..... Run Top This starts up the system process monitoring utility Top. (This didn't work for me until I moved CADH to my TOP2 directory and ran it from there). You can also add you TOP directory to your PATH= line in CONFIG.SYS.
U ..... Unmount filesystems This option will close (unmount) any partition that is currently not in use.
M ..... Remount filesystems This option will open (mount) any partition that is currently closed and assign it a drive letter.
W ..... Reset WPS Does what it says, it will restart the desktop. This is convenient at times
L ..... Show window list Display a process list that allows you to kill a process.
Esc ..... Hide CAD-popup This closes the CADH menu, but CADH remains available again by pressing C-A-D.
X ..... Terminate CAD-popup This will shutdown the program that runs as a background process that you startup on boot to trap the C-A-D key combination and display the menu. Once you do this C-A-D will no longer be intercepted and will again reboot the the system.

Here is TOP 2.01 run full screen from CADH. Top is a separate OS/2 VIO utility that monitors system processes and shows CPU utilization. It can also be used to log system activity (via a running log or a snapshot) and to kill processes if necessary. You can download Top either from Hobbes or the developer's (Paul Ratliffe) web site

TOP v2.01

There are at least three applications I'm aware of with equivalent basic functionality available for OS/2. Process Commander was a product from Stardock which was widely popular years ago, but hasn't been updated in a long time, and from what I have read has had some problems with updates beyond early fixpacks on Warp 4. There is a Fixkit#1 on hobbes which is supposed to allow this product to be run on later versions of Warp4 and MCP based releases. I'm told this fix does not allow the trapping of the [Ctrl]-[Alt]-[Delete] key combination though. You have to use a different key combination (ie, [Ctrl]-[Alt]-[A]), to activate it.

I have used another utility named CAD Commander, from PCS-Software as well as WatchCat which was as far as I know, one of the first of this type of application for OS/2. The first is also a commercial products and the last is free for personal use, and shareware for commercial use. Only the registered version of WatchCat is able to trap the C-A-D key combination. The most current version of WatchCat I can find (2.1) dates from 1995. CAD Commander version 2.5 was released in 1999, but a news item on their site from December 1, 2000 states they have a beta keyboard driver that supports eComStation 1.0. They also have another beta keyboard driver on their site available for download that is for Warp4 fixpack 13 level.

CADH is much simpler then CAD Commander (which requires a replacement of OS/2's kbdbase.sys and CADH doesn't have any extraneous features, like priority level resetting, multiple desktops, etc.), but is exactly what I've been looking for for a while. Though under eCS I rarely get a hung process anymore, so it may be a while until I see how it works with a hung application. Most of my system problems seemed to have evaporated now that I run Warpzilla (Mozilla for OS/2) instead of the problematic Netscape Communicator 4.61 for OS/2 for my web browsing. Please note that some people using cutomized kbdbase.sys drivers have reported problems with CADH, though I have not seen any problems with using it with the standard version in eComStation 1.0 or 1.1.

With CADH it is relatively easy to close a misbehaving application. Just Hold down the [Ctrl] and [Alt] keys and press the [Delete] key. This gives the CADH option menu. Select L to display the list of system processes. Note that the display shows each processes Process ID number, its window list status, its window type, and the process name. Note that in the cadh.txt file the author states he would like to know how to kill processes hung in the exit list. So CADH can not kill everything, and I have had it fail to kill instances of Mozilla and EMtec FTP which often get hungup on closing.

Process list display

Then select K and you will be asked to enter the Process ID number or part of the beginning of the name of the process you wish to terminate. If you are using the name, be sure to type a unique value, so you don't accidentally close the wrong program(s). There is also an option for a H=hard kill but its not documented as to what this does over the regular K=kill process option. If you use the hard kill option it will tell you that it requires the XF86sup.sys driver. This is available on hobbes - Just unzip the XF86sup.sys file from that package into the x:\os2\boot directory and add DEVICE=x:\OS2\BOOT\XF86sup.sys. to your config.sys file

One thing I'd like to see added would be a system Shutdown option to allow a graceful shutdown of your system. Other then that this program seems to be exactly what I've been looking for. With OS/2 many hangs involve the Workplace Shell, and often Cntrl-Alt-Delete doesn't respond. In that case I don't think it will be of any use. Time will tell.

In the mean time I guess I'll be installing this utility on all my PCs to give it a more thorough work out.


   CAD Handler:
   Paul Ratliffe's web site:
   Stardock Process Commander FixKit#1:
   CAD Commander:
   Warpzilla web site:

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