Even though OS/2 is a far more stable Operating System than its Microsoft cousin (Windows NT/2000/XP), there will still be the odd occasion when your OS/2 system will go down. This might be due to a hard disk corruption caused by a power fluctuation, you might have accidentally deleted some system files, or for whatever reason, your OS/2 system refuses to boot properly.
There are a number of function key combinations that you can use on system startup to help you to diagnose and hopefully fix the problem.
There are two function key combinations that can be activated while the white blob appears on the screen followed by the word OS/2. These are alt-F1 which will interrupt the boot process and take you to a recovery menu, and alt-F2 which will continue the boot while displaying the name of each device driver as it is loaded.
The recovery menu that comes up when you press alt-F1 contains a number of options to help you in getting your system to start although in some cases your system may not be recovered by these as well as you might like. Options contained in this menu include:
Using alt-F2 to display the drivers as they are loaded will help you to identify the driver giving the problems if your system hangs part way through the boot process.
Another key combination that you can use once all device drivers have loaded and the screen has changed to a single colour is ctrl-shift-F1 which will stop any programs that were running when the system last shut down from restarting and stop any open folders from being reopened. To permanently achieve this same effect change the RESTARTOBJECTS= parameter in the CONFIG.SYS file to read SET RESTARTOBJECTS=STARTUPFOLDERSONLY.
The following option requires somewhat more effort in advance but simplifies the recovery of your OS/2 system enormously when problems eventually occur. This option takes advantage of the fact that OS/2 (unlike Microsoft operating systems) does not have to be installed on your C: drive. OS/2 can reside and be booted quite happily from any partition on any bootable hard drive. This means that it is a relatively simple matter to just install a second copy of OS/2 into a different partition. This second copy does not need to have very many of the optional features of OS/2 installed because you are only going to use it as a maintenance operating system to assist in recovering your main copy of the operating system. As such no networking options or multimedia support need be installed and even DOS and Windows support may not be needed.
With this second copy of the operating system in place, instead of bringing up the boot menu and attempting to use the options there to fix your system, you can instead boot to your maintenance copy of the operating system which gives you much more flexibility in attempting to patch your main operating system.
In my case I keep entire tape backups of each partition on my hard drive. A second copy of the tape backup software is installed in my OS/2 maintenance partition (DOS needed to be installed in order that I could install this software). Should my main OS/2 partition get completely stuffed up, it is a simple matter to boot to the other OS/2 partition and run a complete recovery of the main OS/2 partition from the tape backup.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.