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Partition Magic 5.0 / 5.01 & OS/2

by Tony Butka

I know you've been waiting to see what's up with the latest version of Partition Magic vis-a-vis our favorite operating system, so here goes. Let's start with an overview of the new features in 5.0. From a technical standpoint, the good stuff is that you can now merge partitions and have lots more control over converting partitions:

  • Merge FAT and FAT32 partitions
  • Convert between FAT/FAT32 and NTFS
  • Convert between logical and primary partitions

The new version is also noticeably quicker, although I didn't time the differences. On a more cosmetic level there are a number of improvements:

  • File system types are now color coded in the graphic display
  • The 'Prepare for New Operating System' wizard is now merged into the 'Create New Partition' Wizard, with some improved help menus
  • You can view a list of pending operations before applying the changes
  • Error checking of partition tables is improved, with more informative on line help

Oh, and by the way, there are two Partition Magic 5's - the 5.0 that originally shipped, and a 'new' Version 5.01. The 5.01 patch is not what I call heavily advertised; it is some kind of serious rebuild/fix only for people who want to use Windows 2000 Professional, and consists of a 30 MB (that's right, thirty megabytes!) download, or a free for shipping & handling CD that PowerQuest will send once they have verified your serial number. I wouldn't even speculate what Microsoft did to require this kind of rebuild, but wouldn't be surprised to see some kind of 'new' NTFS 5 partition type whose sole purpose is to kill off everything else in the universe, like OS/2 & probably old unsupported versions of Microsoft stuff. Anyhow, lets hear it for PowerQuest quickly fixing whatever the changes broke & making the fix available for free. By the time you read this article I suspect the currently shipping product will have the 5.01 CD inside, but you might want to check (or order online from PowerQuest) if you're running a multiple operating system box with Win2000 Pro on it.

OK, enough gloss; so how does this new version work with Warp?

To be up front, from the standpoint of someone with an all-OS/2 system, most of this neat new stuff doesn't make much difference, since your hard drive is already partitioned either FAT16 or HPFS/HPFS386 and you simply don't need any of these newer partition types. Of course, the one new partition type I would like to see supported, the JFS (Journaling File System) that comes with the new Warp Server for e-Business, isn't supported. On the other hand, since IBM has open-sourced the code & it fits with the Linux world, maybe PowerQuest will add support (hey, PowerQuest, this is a hint).

So, for the rest of us who have a multiple operating system setup, usually including some version of the Evil Empires' preloaded Windows 95/98/NT that came with our computer, how does the new PM5 work? In a word, just fine. For all my kidding, the folks at PowerQuest probably know more about the insides of hard drives and partitioning than anyone else with the possible exception of Steve Gibson of SpinRite & the Iomega 'Click of Death' fame (check out his site at And it shows. While I've trashed partitions & operating systems while fooling around with Partition Magic to do reviews, I've never lost data while actually running an operation on a production machine.

Installing From Windows 95/98

At a recent demonstration for our SCOUG General Interest Group, we installed Partition Magic 5 on a 'stock' Windows 95 box. Then we resized the drive to allow for two primary "C" partitions of 1 gig each, leaving the rest of the disk unformatted free space. Being bold of spirit and true of heart, we then did the install using Partition Magic's "Boot Magic" option instead of the IBM Boot Manager. Well, OK, we also did it this way because Boot Manager does not come with Partition Magic 5 & is only supported if it already exists on your system.

Using Boot Magic worked like a charm, and after the usual Warp 4 floppy/CD install, the system rebooted up to Boot Magic & we added OS/2 to the boot menu. Bingo, Warp 4 worked just fine. However (yes there's always a however), the extended partition type that was introduced with Partition Magic 4, or maybe I should say the partition type introduced by Microsoft at about that time, is still here with a vengeance. OS/2 would not recognize the entire extended partition wrapper, and had we attempted to install to a logical drive such as "D:", the install would have failed horribly. The fix is the same as under Partition Magic 4, and is detailed later in this article (see the section on Ptedit to the Rescue), since it involves booting from DOS and using the Ptedit utility program.

A Note on NT/Windows Installs

Remember, before we OS/2 folks worry too much about not having a native version of Partition Magic for OS/2, all of the underneath work it does is accomplished from a DOS session. So when you use that nice GUI screen under Windows 95/98 or NT, it's just visual fluff; PM5 does a reboot to DOS before it actually performs your partition resizing/repartitioning (it's a little disconcerting when you first watch this happen on an NT partition - after all, that OS is not real forgiving of any changes). All you are really doing with the Win/NT wizard is generating a script file that will be executed from DOS on the reboot. So I for one don't feel all that deprived by PowerQuest's dropping a native OS/2 executable. Besides, the closer to the hardware you are, the less extraneous things there are to go wrong. I frankly feel more secure doing a cold boot to a DOS floppy and having the hard drive operations run from there in a command mode.

Installing From DOS/OS2

As in version 4, you make a set of DOS boot floppies with a DOS/OS2 supported version of the program. To create the floppies, go into the CD and find the X:\ENGLISH\DOS-OS2 directory where X= the drive letter of your CD drive. Open a DOS window, and then execute the "makedisk.bat" script on the CD.

The batch file will tell you what to do, and will format the floppies and install the requisite files on them. Disk 1 will produce a bootable generic DOS system (Caldera's Open DOS), along with a few programs like ptedit.exe and partinfo.exe, and a volume label. Disk 2 now contains both the Partition Magic program and help files.

I only mention this because when you run the program - from a reboot - DOS is booted and simply prompts you for disk 2, which loads the PM5 program. Thus you aren't aware that the first floppy contains both the partition informa-tion program (partinfo) as well as the partition table editor program (ptedit). To access them you have to exit the PM5 program to get to a DOS prompt, and then reinsert floppy disk 1. I assume that this is more cosmetic 'idiot proofing' of the boot routine on PowerQuest's part, so that neophyte users don't go messing around with the partition table editor. The important thing is that the utilities are there, unlike Partition Magic 4.

What's All On the CD

One of the things that I forgot to do in my review of Partition Magic 4 was to list all of the cool goodies on the CD. It would be a real shame to do so with PM5, because there's a lot of neat stuff for the technically inclined.

As most of you know who read my monthly SCOUG Ink column, I'm a nut for printed manuals and PDF files. I'm sorry, but most online help systems are either (a) not available when you need them because your computer is dead dead dead which is why you need the darned information in the first place, or (b) finding anything useful if your computer actually is running is about as intuitive as getting help from a gov-ernment agency. I mean, if I knew what I was looking for, I wouldn't need the bloody help file, would I? Here PowerQuest gets major kudos from yours truly. Lurking within the \docs subdirectory in the language of your choice, are a whole bunch of PDF files. And not only that, they can all be read with the OS/2 Version 3 of Acrobat's reader software! Here's a file listing and general description of what they are:

  basic.pdf Basic Concepts, 27 pp
  bm2.pdf Boot Magic Quick Start, 20 pp
  info.pdf White Paper on Partitions, 3 pp
  operate.pdf Installing a 2nd Operating System (including DOS, Linux & OS/2), 16 pp
  optimize.pdf White Paper on Optimizing Partitions, 5 pp
  pm5.pdf The Partition Magic 5 Manual, all 140+ pages

Not only this, in addition the various error messages are available in html under the \docs\errors directory, and sample scripts are also available in the \docs\scripts directory. Congratulations, PowerQuest, on a first rate documentation job!

Extended Partitions, Again

Some things, of course, don't change. Like how Microsoft runs around changing real funda-mental stuff like partition types to add 'features' with successive builds of their operating systems. Remember Fat16x, or FAT32x? Of course, MS is democratic about these changes; after all, NT can't read FAT32 partitions any better than OS/2, and FAT32 systems can't see NTFS or HPFS. Right on, Bill! Then there's my favorite, HPFS/386. You can still get this for Warp Server, and pay $100 that goes straight to Microsoft for licensing the file system to IBM, so that Microsoft can deliberately make NT incompatible with it! How I love free enterprise.

This may all be 'fixed' in Windows2000 (NT5), but I for one am not going to put any operating system on a production machine with that many millions of lines of new code. More likely you will be told that all these seeming file system incompatibilities will be 'fixed' in the next version, which I have taken the liberty of christening "Windows 2001 - The Space Odyssey."

Enough fun. The real problem of running both OS/2 and Windows 95/98 these days lies in trying to have a shared FAT partition that the two operating systems can both access, if you have a single large (over 8.4 GB) hard disk. On my workhorse home system, for example, both Windows and OS/2 sit on a small (2.1 gig) drive, with a larger second drive (4 gigs) partitioned into logical drives. This works fine with extended shared fat partitions. However, on my newer ABit/Celeron 450, I have a single IDE Western Digital 20 gig disk. And on this drive, I hit the wall a few times. Whatever size I wanted to make the two primary C: partitions (one for Windows 98Lite and one for Warp 4), I then needed to divide the balance of the drive up into extended logical partitions. And here, DOS cylinder limits together with the FAT32 file system conspired to give me a major headache. First, I tried to set up a shared 2 gig FAT partition and the balance of the drive FAT32. No go, of course, because the only way that an extended partition can hold a FAT32 file system is to use the dreaded MS partition type of ExtendedX (0F). And yep, you got it, OS/2 can't see an extended partition type of 0F. As a corollary to this problem, it also means that you can't get around the problem by either moving OS/2 to a logical drive, or putting the HPFS file system on the logical drive, because OS/2 just flat can't recognize the file type.

Well, I tried to get tricky. I wiped the extended partition & everything on it and went back to try and create a bunch of 2 gig FAT16 logical drives. Partition Magic 5 doesn't really want to let you do this - it defaults to using the 0F file type when creating an extended partition (and I can't find a simple way to change this default), so I used OS/2's fdisk.exe. Well this worked for a few drive letters, but ultimately everything came crashing down because even with the translation that the BIOS uses for large drive geometry, you can (as PowerQuest so sweetly puts it) "encounter problems if your hard disk is larger than 8 GB." Talk about understatement. Grrh! Then, figuring that this problem might be a limit in OS/2's fdisk program, I used PM5 to set the logical partitions and subdivide them as >2 gig FAT16's.

Ptedit to the Rescue

If you are using Windows 95/98, and an extended partition like my experiences above, then you may need to change the extended partition type from Microsoft's Extended-X to a normal extended partition type. You will know in a hurry if you need to do this, because OS/2 won't see the extended partition or logical drives at all, period. Anyhow, if you need to change partition types, you need the ptedit.exe program that comes with the boot disks you created from the Partition Magic 5 CD. If you want to access the file directly, it lives on the CD under the \dos-os2\disk1 directory.

Boot Partition Magic from floppies - you will have to start Partition Magic from floppy disk 2 since the install forces you to insert disk 2. Then exit the Partition Magic program which will give you a DOS prompt (a:->). Take out disk 2, insert disk 1, and type ptedit. That will load the neat partition table editor.

When the table editor comes up, look for the first extended partition (the wrapper) that comes before any logical drives that you have created. It will have a table entry of 0F. Highlight the entry and replace it with 05. That's it. Save and exit the partition table editor.

Now OS/2 and Windows 95/98 will be able to share logical fat partitions, as long as you don't exceed the dreaded 1024 cylinder limit we talked about above. And remember, just in case something goes wrong you can always rerun the partition table editor and change the entry back to what it was before (thought you'd want to know). As with Partition Magic 4, there's no real detailed readme or document explaining any of this, but the fix is real, and it works.

For those who are totally confused by now, remember that all these limits seem to only arise (at least in newer machines with BIOS later than mid-90's) with drives over 8.4 GB. That's because your system BIOS uses INT13 to 'trick' your computer into thinking that there are less than 1024 cylinders, 256 heads, and 63 sectors. To oversimplify, your computer does this by using in effect a translation table via extended INT13 functions. However at some point, either your system BIOS or your operating system decides that you've exceeded the 1024 cylinder limit and that's all for DOS, folks. I haven't had time to mess around between (Normal, LBA & other) choices in the system BIOS to see if it makes any difference as to whether & when you hit the 1024 cylinder limit, but would welcome feedback from those who have tried. At a pure guess, I suspect some interaction between the system BIOS and your hard disk firmware.


As I was in the process of writing this article, of course, I finally broke down and RTFM. Golly gee, there in black & white in the manual is a stated improvement in version 5 so that Partition Magic's display shows you both your 2 gig boot boundary and the 1024 cylinder limit! You get the moral of the story, right?

Now none of this makes me feel better about using Win95/98 and OS/2 on a single really large drive and also sharing files via a FAT16 partition. The only thing I can think of (at the moment) is to use two physical drives, with the two operating systems on the first physical drive, and the second drive a single extended partition with a bunch of 2 gig FAT16's - heck, there are 26 letters in the alphabet, right? I'm going to try this out, but not in time for this article. Of course the really sneaky way to get around all of this is to use a Zip or Orb drive, or some other type of removable media. That way, you can set up a couple of nice big C: primary partitions, and let Window's eat up the rest of the drive on an extended logical partition with its wonderful FAT32 file system. Or as I men-tioned early on in this article, you can use a removable drive to bypass the whole thing.

The other way around this potential nightmare is to run OS/2 and NT 4 on the same system. Since neither can see/use FAT32 file systems, and since NTFS and HPFS (mostly) don't see each other, it is fairly simple to set up a small shared FAT16 partition and have the rest of your monster drive split between HPFS and NTFS. In fact, a kind of neat way to set up a single hard drive is to have a small primary DOS partition, and Boot Manager. Then set everything else up as extended, booting NT from the DOS partition and OS/2 from Boot Manager. In your DOS partition, you can have all those save your butt utilities like Partition Magic 5, Drive Image 3, and SpinRite. In the extended partition, I like to set up a couple of CD sized FAT16 shared partitions. That way, if you have a CDR, you can keep a shared partition to burn a CD from either NT or OS/2, and another partition to keep shared program files that can be accessed and run under both NT and OS/2. For example, I use both the Windows and OS/2 versions of PMMail for my email, utilizing a shared direc-tory so they can each access the same message base. Similarly, I use both the Windows and OS/2 versions of PMView 2000 to keep every-thing simple between operating systems.

Gripes & Hopes

For starters, I'd love to see a couple of technical explanations of all these 'new' file systems that seem to be propagating, and how they do or don't work with the rest of the world. Say a white paper with an explanation of how the system BIOS and hard drives get to that 1024 cylinder limit. And personally, I'd really like to know what changed in Windows2000 Pro that necessitated a rebuild of PM5!

The major real world improvement I'd like is for Partition Magic to allow creation/manipulation of all the file systems in current use. For example, I recently got a copy of BeOS. The 'Pro' (read for a fee) version comes on a CD with a lite copy of Partition Magic that lets you create a special partition for BeOS. Yet that partition type isn't available for use on the PM 5/5.1 CD. Since Partition Magic is a very specialized tool, it seems to me that it would be cool to let users play around with file systems like BeOS and the various flavors of Unix like Solaris/BSD/AIX and such. After all, the ultimate partitioning tool should cover the gamut, and I don't think that PowerQuest's market is computer newbies.

The Bottom Line

With Version 5, as with Version 4, the answer for OS/2 users as to whether you should buy it is a firm 'it depends.' If you have an all-OS/2 system, then you simply don't need Partition Magic beyond the original 3.0 version. On the other hand, if you have a multiple operating system setup, get it - the program is a winner. By using Boot Magic you can have both Win95/98 and OS/2 on primaries and save a primary partition by not using IBM's Boot Manager. For manipul- ating the various MS file system types - FAT32, NTFS, FAT - you can really do some impressive conversion of file systems live and on the fly. Also the new version is Linux friendly - I set one system up with Boot Magic to run both Windows 98 and Linux (Mandrake 7), and the partitioning was quick and painless.

PowerQuest -
Tony Butka -

Note: This review has been republished, with permission, by Team OS/2 Denmark.