Resolving Problems with Extended Attributes

Question: We run on an OS/2 system where I work. Recently we've been getting very many SYS0255 errors when we try to copy files from shared directories. The full text of the error is as follows:

The extended-attribute list size is incorrect. c:\blah.txt

The file being copied resides on a different volume than C:\ altogether. The C: drive is an OS/2 drive (the boot drive).

Is there an option anywhere in OS/2 to remove EA sensitivity? In short, I want OS/2 to ignore the extended attributes. Whether EA attributes are copied or not is immaterial -- they are not needed.

Answer:With OS/2 using the FAT file system the extended attributes form part of the files that you have saved on your disk. The reason for this is that the FAT file system was designed for use with DOS and not OS/2. OS/2 expects to save more information with each file than DOS does. The reason for the extended attributes being saved in a separate file is that the FAT structure does not allow for this additional information being stored as part of the file structure and it must therefore be stored separately. OS/2 still considers the extended attribute information to be part of the file to which the information belongs even though it is stored separately.

The best way to avoid having problems with the extended attributes is to convert the drives to use the HPFS file system which is the OS/2 native file system and as such supports storing all of the necessary information about each file in the file itself and which therefore doesn't require the use of a separate file to store extended attributes.

With an existing system converting from FAT to HPFS is not directly supported by OS/2 without reformatting the drive. If you have access to the utility program such as Partition Magic then you can use that program to directly convert a drive from FAT to HPFS without losing the drive contents. If you do not have this program (or an equivalent) then you will need to backup the content of the drive, reformat the drive to HPFS, and then recover the content of the drive. Converting the boot drive would be more difficult but if, as you say, the files having problems are actually on a different drive then just converting that drive may resolve the problems that you are having.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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