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July 1999

RSJ CD Writer for OS/2

By Mark Dodel 

CDROM disks are now the defacto media for delivering new software. Until recently the ability to burn (write) CDROM's was not available to the typical pc user do to the high cost of CDR-CDR/W*1 drives. Drive cost has come down significantly in past couple of years to the point that I now see IBM is including an internal CDR/W model as standard on one (albeit expensive) Aptiva model.

They appeal as a form of transfer media that most every computer can accept (within limits of course, please read the review of RSJ for more on limitations), yet with a much larger capacity (650 MB) then a standard 1.44Meg floppy. Cost for CDR blank recording CD's runs from about $1.00 (in bulk) to $5.00 each and for CDR/W re-writable blank CD's run from about $5.00 to $10.00 each. You can backup critical data to a CDR and be able to read it the same as any direct access device, while a back up to tape can take a long time to retrieve a select set of files. You can also make backup copies of existing CDROMs.

In this article we will review the RSJ CD-Writer for OS/2 software http://www.rsj.de/stage/en/cd_os2.asp in use with a CDR/W drive; the Yamaha CRW4416SXZ external SCSI drive.

For more on CDR drives and OS/2 you can check out Fernando Cassia's OS/2 Warp & CD-Writers FAQ Page - http://os2cdrfaq.cjb.net. It is somewhat out of date at this point, and focuses primarily on the HP CDR drives, but it has a large body of information about older OS/2 CD writer software such as Unite CD Maker and Gear for OS/2. There is also information about CD file systems (Joliet and Rock Ridge) and CD Recording in general. There is mention of an updated CD-Writer FAQ available by subscription in the future, but no details on how to subscribe as of yet. When I asked Fernando about it he said it's still in the works and we should be hearing more in a few weeks.

RSJ CD-Writer for OS/2

RSJ CD-Writer for OS/2 is a two part product for writing to CD recorders. The first part is probably more typical of the standard windows fare that normally comes packaged with most drives. CDView allows you to copy tracks from an existing CD or from tracks you create yourself onto a CDR-CDR/W disk. The second part represents from what I hear is functionality unique not just to OS/2 but to all such programs regardless of platform; RSJ includes an CDWFS which is an Installable File System. With CDWFS installed you can read/write to the CDR-CDR/W drive as if it were any other direct access storage device.


I downloaded the electronic version <http://www.rsj.de/stage/en/1demoos2.asp>, which is a self-extracting and auto-run archive file. The current version as of this writing is 2.80 and it is an OS/2 native executable file, approximately 1.29Meg in size.

From the Install screen you set all the required parameters for the CDWFS, the CD recorder, as well as the installation path. Once these are set all that is left is to select the "Start Installation" button. CONFIG.SYS file is automatically updated and a new folder is created on the Desktop. During the Installation you will be prompted to enter a registration key. If you are just evaluating the software you have to hit the Cancel button, and then the installation will proceed. That is not very clear at first, since I thought cancel would stop the entire install, but it doesn't. You can try RSJ for 30 days as shareware, and then register it directly from RSJ, or your favorite OS/2 software supplier Indelible Blue, BMT Micro or Mensys or others if you like it, otherwise it will give a message saying your temporary key has expired and won't start. Both Indelible Blue and Mensys also sell a boxed version as well, though it is more expensive (about $260 vs. about $189 for the electronic version). The electronic version includes a 74 page manual in PDF format (requires Acrobat Reader for OS/2, in fact one of the objects created in the RSJ CD Writer folder is a URL to download Acrobat if you don't already have it).

Before you actually install RSJ you have to decide on the File system and drive parameters to use.

Buffer Size is the amount of system memory set aside by RSJ for storing data while writing to the CD recorder. RSJ defaults to 2 Meg but suggests that this be increased for faster drives, recommending at least 4096KB for a 4X drive

Cache Size is the size of memory (RAM and Disk) to be used to store the data before it is written to the CD recorder. Once it reaches that size the data is written to the CDR-CDR/W drive.

Cache Path is the location on disk where this cache file is to be written to. The install defaults this to whatever you have set as your TEMP directory in your CONFIG.SYS. They advise that the available free space on the selected drive be four times the size of the cache to handle multiple write operations (while one file is being written to CD, another one can be started to write to cache).

Mode can be either CDROM or CD-XA. There are basically two modes of writing CDs. The original single session CDROM mode which just about any CDROM drive should be able to read, and the CD-XA mode which is the multi-session format that older CDROM drives can't read. The default is CD-XA, but if you are making a backup of files, you want to make sure that your CDROM can read the CD-XA format, or when you need it it will be worthless to you. Also be aware that if you have a CDR/W drive, that because the physical mechanism for writing CDR/W disks is different, many older CDROM drives (less then 20X speed) can't read them. Just another issue to keep in mind when deciding on the type of media to use for backups.

ISO Level - This effects the way directory/filenames can be written. ISO 1 only supports the old 8.3 naming convention. That is an 8 character name and a 3 character extension separated by a period. ISO 2 names can be up to 31 characters but contain only one period. And ISO 3 names can contain up to 31 characters and periods. In addition both Rock Ridge (*NIX format supporting up to 142 character names) and Joliet (microsoft format supporting up to 64 character names) are supported.

Speed Factor is the speed at which you want the data written to the CD drive. This is pretty much dependent on the drive. If you leave the setting at 0 it will run at the drives default speed. If you have a 4X drive (600KB/Second), but frequently have problems you may want to set this to 2X (300KB/Second) to see if that clears up the problems.

Test Mode is an option to perform non-writes to the CD recorder. That is everything goes through the motions but no updates are actually applied. This is useful to see if the data can be transferred to the drive at the selected speed without any errors.

Suppress Eject causes the CD recorder to not eject the CD after you are done with the process and have detached the drive so it can no-longer be written to.

When the install is completed you have to reboot to use the CDWFS since it is started as an IFS in your CONFIG.SYS file. A backup of your original CONFIG.SYS is saved. You will also have an RSJ CD writer folder on your desktop. The folder contains an Installation Object (so you can uninstall or change parameters), the aforementioned manual in PDF format, URL objects to RSJ web site and to download the Acrobat reader, and an object to start the Error Log. The error log runs in the background and only gets focus when there is a problem. The last two objects in the folder are the CDView Folder and the CD Writer Control. A warning in the documentation states that if you use one method to create a CD you should not then use the other method on the same CD. That is CDView and CDWFS are mutually exclusive methods of burning*2 CD's.


CDView is the method used to copy existing tracks (as opposed to files) to a CD recorder. This is the way you would most likely make a copy of an existing music or data CD. The CDView folder contains several objects. One is for the Hard drive where tracks can be written, one for your regular CDROM drive, and the last for the CD Recorder.

The basic operation is to open the source device (usually your regular CDROM drive, which is the lower window in the below image.) and the target device (usually your CD recorder, the top window in the image below). This is accomplished by dragging one or more tracks from the source window onto the target window and then selecting the red filled circle button to start the recording.

In my case for some reason I had to take an intermediate step first. When I tried to record tracks directly from my IDE CDROM (A Toshiba 12X) I always received an error saying the source drive wasn't fast enough. Even setting the record speed to 1X didn't fix the problem. RSJ support suggested copying the tracks first to the Hard Drive (The middle window in the above image). Then drag the tracks from the Hard Drive to the CDR window and record them. That worked but required doing it in stages since the entire Music CD was almost 500Meg and I didn't have enough disk space to copy all the tracks to the hard drive at one time.

The response from RSJ support about this was "The speed of CDROM drives refers to reading data CDs. Audio CDs will be read much slower. Most older CDROMs are not able to read audio tracks at all, and most of the old drives, that are able to do so, read with audio tracks single speed. I assume, that your 12x Toshiba is one of those guys. So when copying audio tracks on the fly, the transfer rate is on the limit, even at single speed. If the source CD contains some scratches or dust, the CDROM drive slows down, so that a buffer underrun occurs. I assume, that this happened on your machine."*3

So you need a reasonably new, fast source CDROM Drive to really get the full benefit of CDView. In addition, I have found that my older CDROM's won't read CDR/W disks (RSJ Support confirmed this saying "(approximately 20x or faster drives) are able to recognize CD-R/Ws"*4), and some older CDROM's won't read CD-XA (Multi-session) CDROM's. Also before you can use any CDR-CDR/W disk outside the recorder, you have to remember to finalize it. These factors must be kept in mind depending on how you plan to use the finished CDs.

The tracks to be dragged are highlighted (Grey). Once you have finished dragging (and before actually recording) them to the CDR window, you can then re-arrange the sequence of the tracks by just dragging a track to a new position. Note that in the above image in the CDR window (The top window), Track 04 has been moved to the third position. The screen capture shows Track 02 (the CD-Note pointer image) being moved to just after Track 03. There are a couple of visual cues as to whether a track has been written yet. The icon (a note for an audio track, a file for a data track) which is black when recorded, grey when not, and the Source column has an entry until the track is recorded.

While recording, CDView displays a status window showing the utilization of the RSJ software Read Cache as well as an over-all progress indicator of the copy procedure.

Most of the buttons on the CDView window are reminiscent of the controls on a VCR or cassette tape player. Play, Pause, Record, Finalize, Eject are the main functions. Play and Pause are only selectable for music tracks. Finalize is required to make the CD readable by a regular CDROM drive. And Eject will cause the CD recorder to open it's drawer. You can set the recording speed using the spin buttons.

The music note button is for setting audio recording parameters. This includes the Start Offset and the pre-gap setting. Start Offset is used to adjust the starting position of audio tracks if there is any clipping of the beginning of the track. Pre-gap is the amount of pause between audio tracks and is usually 2 seconds. You can adjust this down to handle any clipping occurring at the end of the track.

The Film symbol button is used to designate CD-XA tracks as video tracks. The pencil eraser button is used to delete selected tracks and the recycle button will refresh the window display. There is fly over descriptions of each button when the mouse pointer is over the button. When you start to record tracks


This is the meat and potatoes of RSJ CD Writer for OS/2. When you install RSJ, it modifies your CONFIG.SYS file, by adding several drivers and a new IFS (Installable File System) called CDWFS for "CD Writer Installable File System". The drivers treat the CDR-CDR/W drive as a WORM drive (Write Once, Read Many), and on bootup, when the RSJ driver is processed it will display what CDROM drives are found on your system and how they will be handled. In otherwords it is smart enough to tell which is a common ordinary CDROM drive and which is a CD Recorder drive. There is also a special filter driver (LOCKCDR.FLT) which prevents the CDR-CDR/W drive from being seen by your system except through RSJ's two components - CDView and the CDWFS. With this filter in place you can only use the CD Recorder as a standard CDROM drive by attaching it with the CDWFS.

So how does it work? Well I can't explain the technical part, but the the beauty of RSJ, and the justification for the expensive price tag is it's simplicity in action. There are two ways to attach the CD Recorder drive. You can use the command line and type in CDATTACH W: or use the RSJ CD-Writer Control panel shown below.

Either way once you attach the drive, it will create a new drive in your drives folder with the drive letter you assigned. Once the drive is successfully attached you will note that the Attach button morphs into a Finalize button. Don't press that unless you are completely done writing to the disk. After you attach the drive you have to first format the blank CD Disk the first time you use it. This is just a matter of typing FORMAT W: at an OS/2 command prompt. You can then access this new drive like any other, either from the command line, or from any application. Depending on whether this is a CDR or a CDR/W drive you will have additional menu items on the new drive objects popup menu. These are Unseal CD, Erase CD, and Finalize CD. You can Seal a CD disk to make it write protected, hense the option to Unseal Cd which removes the write protection. Erase CD is for CDR/W drives (and CDR/W disks) only. Erase CD blanks the CDR/W completely, so you have to format the disk again the next time you want to use it. If instead of erasing the whole CDR disk you choose to delete a file or directory, all that is updated is the directory tree. The space is still used up since each track on the CD can only be written once. So CDR disks are not very useful for writing data that is frequently updated, and CDR/W disks need to be erased after a point or they will fill up as well.

Once the disk is formatted you can then perform just about any function that you can do with a floppy or hard drive. you can COPY or XCOPY a set of files to the CD to back up files, but be aware that CDWFS does not support Extended Attributes. So you can't make a mirror copy of your desktop to CD. What you can do is zip up all those files using InfoZip or PKzip or another OS/2 archiver that saves EA's and then copy that file to the CD. When you are done writing everything you need to the CDR-CDR/W disk then you have to finalize it. This closes the current session and allows the CD to be readable by a regular CDROM drive. You can finalize a CD session by using the Finalize button in the CD Writer Control window, using the command line CDATTACH W: -c or by using the Drive object Finalize CD menu option.

The RSJ CD-Writer object in the RSJ folder has a status page which shows the disk usage. If you write a file to the CDR-CDR/W disk and then update or delete it, the previous version will still take up space, but not appear in the directory. So to see how much free space is actually available you can go to this status window and click on the CD Status button. This will only work for an attached drive. you can also use CHKDSK W: /V to get a display that includes information about the CD session including files written, sessions closed, whether it's a formatted disk, and the tracks used.

CDWFS is useful in that it can be accessed by network drives as well as local drives. So you can copy files across your LAN to make backups to a CD Recorder. Of course you have to attach the drive locally first, and start any shares on the local drive before it can be seen by the network clients. This has been one of the most useful features for me. I use my TR-4 Tape drive for full partition backups since my application/data partitions now span over a Gig in size which even zipped, would overfill the 650 Meg capacity of a CDR/W disk. I use the CDR/W drive for backing up desktop images via PillarSoft's DTB (Desktop Backup). But you can use anything you want including the command line, since it is just seen as another network drive. Using DTB I have found it better to write the self-extracting zip archive to a harddrive first and then copy the finished exectutable zip to the CDR/W drive. Reason for this is while building the the SFX file, Infozip seems to use the CDR-W to store temporary files, which because of the nature of the CD writer, aren't actually deleted when they are no longer needed even though they don't and still take up space on the drive.

Creating bootable CDs are possible as well using CDWFS. Hopefully in the near future we will have an article devoted to this topic.

Application Support

RSJ handles support similar to most companies these days. They have a web site with software updates, email address (support@rsj.de) for reporting problems, and a Usenet newsserver with various support groups for users and support staff to help one-another (news://news.rsj.de/rsj.de.support.cdwriter.os2). Most posts to this group are in German, but if you post a query in English you will get a response in English.

I found the response from the support email address fairly quick (that same day or within a day) to some problems I had in my initial setup and subsequent testing. As it turned out most of my problems were SCSI setup related. One problem I did have with not being able to attach the CDWFS using the CD Writer Control, was fixed when I updated to the most recent version (2.80 as of this writing).

A list of supported drives can be found at http://www.rsj.de/stage/en/Techos2.asp. The manual is available online in HTML format <http://www.rsj1.de/us/cdwosdoc/cdwos2.htm> and as stated above is included as a PDF file in the electronic distribution and as a hard copy printed manual in the shrinkwrapped version.


One sore spot with OS/2 users is that the window's version of RSJ is only about $79, while the OS/2 version is between $180 (electronic version) and $260 (shrinkwrapped). Of course the difference is on the windoze platform RSJ is competing with bundled software and a huge market of lemmin..., er potential customers.

The only current competition under OS/2 that I am aware of, is CDRecord/2 which requires you to create the tracks yourself using a command line interface and then write them to the CDR drive. It is a freeware port under the GNU license http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Sector/5785/cdrecord/cdrecordmain.htm. CDRecord/2 only supports SCSI devices since it relies on the ASPIROUT.SYS driver for which there is no IDE equivalent. For some people CDRecord/2 is more then sufficient to get the job done, but if you want the simple elegance of treating your CDR-CDR/W drive as any other drive, including transferring files across a network to an attached drive, then RSJ CD Writer for OS/2 is well worth the cost.

RSJ CD Writer for OS/2 - Shrinkwrapped version $260US & Electronic download version $189US - Indelible Blue <http://www.indelible-blue.com/ibapps/products.nsf/by+partnumber/RSJ10>


1. CDR/W = This is an acronym for Compact Disk Recorder/Writable. CDR or Compact Disk Recorder, use only CDR disks which can only be written to once, whereas CDR/W drives support both CDR disks and CDR/W disks which can be erased and re-written multiple times.

2. Burning a CD = This is a common term for writing to a CD media.

3. RSJ Support = This response was from Stefan Beutler of RSJ Support support@rsj.de.

4. RSJ Support = This response was from Stefan Beutler of RSJ Support support@rsj.de.

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