Living with Novell NetWare

NT features let you access files and printers that are NetWare resources

Some people regard the rivalry between Windows NT and Novell NetWare as a holy war. But in many organizations, the two operating systems have to get along for many reasons, including cost, the need for applications that run on one operating system or the other, and politics. With a view toward coexistence, then, let's look at the NT features that let Windows-based clients access files and printers that are Novell resources.

Common Protocol
To communicate with a NetWare server, you need to install a protocol common to both systems. Typically, the NetWare server runs IPX/SPX, so you need to use NWLink, which is Microsoft's 32-bit implementation of the IPX/SPX protocol. In theory, you don't have to worry about installing NWLink: Its documentation says that installing the software to connect to a NetWare server automatically installs NWLink. In practice, I have found that NWLink does not always install correctly unless you specifically tell the software to install it.

NWLink is only a protocol: You need additional software to connect to a NetWare server. For example, a client application (such as a client/server database front end) running on a Windows-based client can use NWLink as the protocol to connect to a database on the NetWare server. But to browse and connect directly to resources on the NetWare server, you must install either Client Services for NetWare (CSNW) or Gateway Services for NetWare (GSNW) on your NT computer.

Client Services for NetWare
You can install CSNW on any NT workstation. CSNW lets the NT user browse for and connect to resources on the NetWare server as if they were components of the Network Neighborhood. In NT 4.0, you install CSNW as a Network Service. From Control Panel, select Network, Services. Clicking Add brings up a list of the network services that you can install, as you see on Screen 1. Select Client Services for NetWare, then click OK. As always when you install new networking software, NT will prompt you for the CD-ROM that contains the NT installation files. Reboot your computer to let the changes take effect.

When you restart your computer, NT will ask you for the name of your preferred NetWare server, as you see in Screen 2. Before you can connect, you need a user account on this NetWare server and a NetWare client access license. Then you can browse the network, using the Network Neighborhood icon. When you click on Entire Network, NT offers you a choice of the Microsoft Windows Network or the NetWare or Compatible Network. Selecting the NetWare option will take you to the list of NetWare servers and then to the shared NetWare volumes. You can also map an available NetWare volume to a drive letter by right-clicking on the My Computer icon and treating it like any other network resource.

Gateway Services for NetWare
GSNW comes with NT Server and includes CSNW. GSNW lets many users obtain occasional access to file-and-print resources on the NetWare server, without additional software on each workstation. The only connection into the NetWare server is through the NT Server. Users share this NT server connection just like any other share; users don't connect to the NetWare server directly. To the Windows clients, the shared resource appears to be part of the NT server; as long as they can see the NT server, they can access the resource. Because the clients don't need to communicate with the NetWare server, you don't have to load CSNW on all of the workstations. You don't even have to install NWLink on each client computer. As long as you have installed NWLink on the NT server (which happens automatically when you install GSNW), the NT server can act as an intermediary and make the NetWare resources available to the Windows clients.

At one time, some Microsoft sales people claimed that you could use GSNW with one Novell NetWare license to connect hundreds of users because you had only one connection to the NetWare server. The Novell license referred to connections, not clients, but Novell quickly changed the wording. Now you need a Novell license for each client that uses the NetWare server, even if the client connects through GSNW. The basis of Microsoft's claim that the gateway would support hundreds of users was that each user might connect only once or twice a day, to copy a file or send a quick print job. When more than one user tries to connect via GSNW, the gateway becomes a bottleneck: with only one connection into the NetWare server, requests have to wait in line.

To install GSNW, follow the same procedure as for CSNW. However, GSNW needs an account (NTGATEWAY) set up on the NetWare server. The account must have Supervisor equivalence status (the NetWare term for administrator privileges) on the NetWare server and must be in the NTGATEWAY group on the NetWare server. GSNW uses this account to connect to the NetWare server. As with CSNW, when you install the service and restart the system, you must specify the name of the preferred NetWare server.

On your NT server, in Control Panel, you will see a new icon, the NT 3.x network icon, with one red end. This icon is the GSNW icon. Click it to open up the GSNW configuration dialog box, as you see in Screen 3. This dialog gives you the option to change your preferred server or to specify the Default Tree and Context if you are using NetWare Directory Services (NDS) for the gateway account. Other options include print configuration and a logon script. The Overview button takes you to a useful Help screen for configuring the gateway.

Click the Gateway button to configure which resources on the NetWare server you want to share and to select the share's drive letter. First, select the Enable Gateway option and provide the name and password for the NetWare connection account. Then you can add shares from the NetWare server. Use a universal naming convention path (\\server_name\resource_name) to specify the Network Path. Set the maximum number of users to the number of Novell licenses you own. Screen 4 shows adding a new share, using the drive letter Z. Because the connection account has Supervisor equivalence, set permissions on the share to limit what the Windows clients can do to the shared data. You set permissions on the share like any other NT share permissions. Then Windows-based clients can connect to the shared drive Z on the NT server and access it as they would any other resource on this server.

File and Print Services for NetWare
File and Print Services for NetWare (FPNW) is an add-on product available from Microsoft. (For a description of FPNW, see John Enck, "Behind the Scenes of FPNW," December 1995.) Its purpose is the opposite of CSNW's. When you install FPNW on an NT server, NetWare clients can connect to the NT computer as though it were a NetWare server, and they can access files and use printers that the NT server has shared.

Migration Tool for NetWare
One of GSNW's primary uses is to prepare to move users from NetWare to NT. You can move users one at a time, transferring their accounts while leaving them the option to retrieve files from their old NetWare server. Or you can move all the users and their data from a NetWare server to NT.

The Migration Tool for NetWare (in NT Server's Administrative Tools) automates the process. You can configure the migration tool to move user accounts, groups, and some account properties. However, some properties don't translate. For example, in NetWare each user can have a different password expiration interval. This capability is not possible in NT. It can't read the NetWare password file. Therefore, you need to either assign blank passwords or make the password the same as the username. In either case, the users must change the password when they first log on.

Screen 5 shows using the Migration Tool for NetWare to move users from a NetWare server to an NT server. You can set up multiple migration paths, from several NetWare servers to one or more NT servers at the same time. You also can choose to migrate users or data or both. If you are moving several NetWare servers to one NT server, the same person probably has accounts on more than one NetWare server. If the accounts have the same name, you must decide on a strategy to avoid or work around possible conflicts because NT doesn't allow duplicate usernames. Fortunately you have several options, including ignoring the duplicate names or adding a prefix.

A neat feature of the Migration Tool is its ability to run a trial migration, which simulates the process but does not move data or accounts. Use this tool to identify possible conflicts with duplicate user or group names. Once you have resolved the conflicts, you can start the real migration, knowing that it will run to completion.

Moving users from a NetWare server to an NT domain is much easier than moving users from one NT domain to another. A utility for moving NT users that is as easy to use as the Migration Tool for NetWare would make the life of an NT systems administrator much easier. Are you listening, Microsoft?

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