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August 1999

A Little OS/2 Magic with UPDINI

By: Greg Price (giprice@ibm.net)

On USENET recently, someone asked about experiences with UPDINI. As a result, I downloaded UPDINI11.ZIP from Hobbes <ftp://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/util/wps/updini11.zip> and tried it out.

The purpose of Peter Engels' UPDINI utility is to faciliate the caching of OS2.INI and OS2SYS.INI in RAM, thereby avoiding short-lived but annoying system delays caused by the sporadic, high priority refresh of these files by the WorkPlaceShell (WPS) of OS/2 Version 4. (If you use Warp 3 or earlier, then UPDINI is not for you.)

The following installation steps were performed:

1) Unzip to install location (I used my general OS2UTIL directory).

2) Add

to CONFIG.SYS and reboot to verify the drive letter assigned to the virtual disk. (G: is my OS2 drive.) Since I have RESERVEDRIVELETTER=Q to make my CD-ROM R:, the result was S:. I decided 5MB was sufficient to hold both OS2.INI and OS2SYS.INI with plenty of room for growth. My OS2.INI is about 1.7MB, and my OS2SYS.INI is about 235KB. My system has 128MB of RAM.

Remember that the system first writes to OS2SYS.!!! and OS2.!!!, presumably so that the main INI files are usable if the system fails during the write-out. It then switches the file names and empties the resulting !!! files. From this it is important to realize that the VDISK needs sufficient capacity to hold two copies of both INI files.

Note that I chose the VDISK method of procuring a RAM-resident "disk". In the documentation for UPDINI, "RAMDISK" is mentioned. I do not have the RAMDISK drivers so that decision was made for me. Also, Peter Engels has mentioned that he now uses VDISK with the possible advantage of improved write performance. He also indicated that SVD, the shareware Super Virual Disk utility is also suitable.

Also note that the drive letter is assigned to the VDISK before letters are assigned to network drives.

3) Edit CONFIG.SYS to add

(I decided 10 seconds is quick enough to update HDD copies of INI files) and change

to point to the root directory of the VDISK.

4) Reboot.

By the time the WPS comes up UPDINI is running in its own background process, and has copied the two INI files from the hard drive to the VDISK. WPS now treats these files on the VDISK as the "real" OS/2 INI files.

Results: Booting seems faster. Shutdown is alot faster. Opening folders for the first time after a boot is almost instantaneous. And best of all, the 6 second clagging of the system by high priority disk thrashing up to every 1 or 2 minutes in frequency is gone!

I wonder if WPS does concurrent (which ends up as interleaved to one HDD) writes to both OS2SYS.INI and OS2.INI, although of course sometimes only one INI file is rewritten in a WPS "thrash-attack". Presumably, UPDINI copies one, then the other from the VDISK to the HDD. Anyway, it is a lot less noisy doing it, so much so that I don't notice it. And system response does not suffer.

Possible downside: as the doc points out, Shutdown does not cause an INI file rewrite to the HDD, so if something like a software installation process suggests an immediate shutdown, decline and do it yourself after the latest INI files are copied to disk. In that situation I would probably just wait a minute or two before confirming the shutdown, because I know that within that time interval WPS will have ensured that the latest copy of the INI files is written to the VDISK, and UPDINI will have copied any changes to my hard drive a few seconds later.

After you have booted using UPDINI, do the following to verify the results. Change to the OS2 directory of your OS/2 drive and issue DIR *.INI /AS to check the currency of your HDD INI files. Compare with similar output from your VDISK. The file sizes and timestamps should be identical. If not, try it again a few seconds later.

With or without UPDINI, the timestamps of your INI files indicate recently they were rewritten.

Be careful if you run utilities such as CHECKINI or UNIMAINT that you are processing the correct INI files. For example, Henk Kelder's CHECKINI program will process the files on the hard drive by default, and while it can be directed to process the VDISK files, correction of "alternative" INI files is not allowed. It would seem that until CHECKINI uses the SYSTEM_INI and USER_INI environmental variables to locate the operational INI files, UPDINI must be temporarily uninstalled before CHECKINI can be used to correct a system's INI files.

Remember, OS2.INI and OS2SYS.INI are important system files. If they become corrupt, the usability of your system can become severely compromised to say the least. Take backups! If manual backups are a pain then automate! If your desktop is stable, a backup that is a few months old can still save you from substantial reconstruction (or even reinstallation) work. Recent backups are obviously superior.

To temporarily uninstall UPDINI, update CONFIG.SYS to REM out the added RUN statement, and point USER_INI and SYSTEM_INI back to the OS2 directory of your boot drive and reboot.

To permanently uninstall UPDINI, restore CONFIG.SYS to its pre-install state and reboot. The files you unzipped can then be deleted.

In summary, I like UPDINI so much because I don't notice it. And it has done away with those irritating system freezes!

Thank you Peter Engels!

As always, YMMV. Good luck.
Greg Price

Software mentioned in this article includes:

UPDINI, Freeware, By Peter Engel - <ftp://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/util/wps/updini11.zip>
Latest version released August 10,1999 - http://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs0ad/UpdIni12.zip
Author's Web Page (In German) - http://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs0ad
Super Virtual Disk - Shareware $40, BMTMICRO - http://www.bmtmicro.com/catalog/svdisk.html
VDISK.SYS - Included with OS/2 Warp

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