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Installing NetWare for Non-NetWare Users

Articles and Tips: article

Roger White
Guest Columnist

01 Aug 2000

This article will lead you through a basic NetWare file server installation and go through some of the questions asked during the installation. It will assist you in building a simple network that is running a NetWare file server and a NetWare client, with which you can experiment to learn more about NetWare capabilities.

What You Need

This article is based on installing NetWare 5.1 on a new computer, into a new network. This presumes you have two computers: one to be the NetWare File Server, and one to be a workstation that the file server is going to serve (also called a client). These two should be connected together with Ethernet hardware of some sort. The client should be set up to run Windows 95/98, and the file server should be set up to run NetWare.

Before installing the NetWare file server, make sure your hardware is working. For example, if you are comfortable with Windows, install Windows on both computers and confirm that you can transfer files between the two computers. If you would prefer TCP/IP, make sure the two machines can "Ping" each other before starting the installation.

You will also need a NetWare 5.1 CD, a NetWare license floppy disk, and a NetWare 5.1 client CD. Please note that the following procedure presumes that your network is isolated from other NetWare servers. If it is not, the server install program will detect the other servers, and you will get asked different questions than those discussed here.

New networks vs. existing networks

NetWare file servers are designed to talk to each other. As a file server is being installed, it will broadcast on its network board(s) to check if other NetWare servers exist and modify the installation questions depending on whether or not it gets a reply from another server.

For instance, if another server replies, the install program will note from that reply the address of the network segment it is broadcasting on and adopt that and when it comes time to install directory services, it will ask you if the server should become a part of an existing tree.

Note: If the server is being installed into an existing network, and the existing network has 4.x servers in it, it is very important that those 4.x servers be updated to the latest service packs. Directory Services and server maintenance utilities have changed dramatically between 4.x and 5.x versions of NetWare. If the older, pre-latest-service pack, 4.x utilities try to fix a 5.x server, it will be truly "fixed," probably requiring a reinstall of NetWare on the 5.x server, and possibly on the 4.x server as well. Updating the 4.x servers can be done manually by downloading service packs from Novell's web site and installing them, or you can get assistance from a program on the NW5 CD: NWDEPLOY.EXE. If you want to use NWDEPLOY, put the NW5 CD in a workstation client on the network and run it from there.

Basic NetWare Concepts

Let's look at some basic NetWare concepts that are different from the Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX environments. Being aware of these differences will help you understand what to expect when your installation is complete.

Servers Serve, Workstations Work

NetWare OS began its existence offering file and print services to other kinds of workstation operating systems--never a workstation operating system itself. As a result, once you finish installation you rarely do anything to the file server box directly. The file server operating system doesn't play games or word process, and most of the time you will control the file server from one of the clients. Once the installation is complete, the file server just sits in a corner providing services for other workstations, and people use the file server from their workstations. The heart of what a NetWare file server does is provide files when clients request them. It is valuable because it does this very well; it is transparent to users and applications. They can't tell if their applications or data are coming from local drives or network drives.

Directory Services: Network-wide Security and Network-wide Access

When a user logs into a Novell Network, they are in fact logging into Directory Services. Directory Services is the user's gateway into all the servers on the network: file servers, print servers, web servers--whatever has been installed. This means that the user logs in just once to reach all the services he or she is going to use, and the administrator controls what services and data a user can reach by administering Directory Services.

Directory Services is a database that can reside on a single file server box, or be distributed over many. On small networks, it will take care of setting itself up and maintaining itself pretty much without administrator intervention. The administrator uses Directory Services to set up what users can do and reach, but Directory Services takes care of maintaining itself without administrator intervention.

That said, lets get into installing NetWare.

Installing NetWare

There are four steps to installing NetWare: planning, hardware setup, installing software, and administering the network, which entails setting up users, printers, and so on. But in this article we will concentrate on the steps to setting up the server.


The network for this article is planned to be a small one consisting of a single server and a single workstation. But NetWare demonstrates its abilities in a large, complex environment where there are multiple servers, clients, and many kinds of communications links used between the various parts of the network. In this simple installation there are a lot of NetWare features we will be glossing over or not addressing at all.

Hardware Setup

Connect the file server to the client workstation using Ethernet hardware. Make sure the hardware is working properly.

Installing Software

Installing software consists of two parts: installing software on the file server and installing software on the client, which will be discussed later.

Start installing NetWare on file server machine.

Note: NetWare OS does not boot up the computer it resides on. It uses either DRDOS, or MSDOS 6.22 or earlier to boot the computer (this is pre-Windows 95 MSDOS, which does not automatically install a memory manager). So the first partition on the file server hard drive is set up as a DOS partition, and made active (so it will be the booting partition). This first partition should be large enough to hold the DOS programs and any diagnostic utilities you may wish to run from the DOS partition (such as programs to bring the server up as a NetWare client workstation). If you're using old-style DOS utilities for diagnostics then 100MB would be sufficient size for this partition. If you like to diagnose problems using Windows 95/98-based utilities then .5GB may be more appropriate.

The 5.1 CD has a version of DR DOS on it, so if you start the install process by booting from the CD, you have the option of installing DRDOS in the DOS partition on the hard drive, and in the future using that to boot the file server.

Now let's go through the install process step-by-step and list the questions and procedures involved.

Select your language: Which language would you like to use during the installation?

Accept license agreement: Accept the agreement or end the install process.

Install looks for partitions: The install program will now look at your hard disk to find out if NetWare partitions already exist on the disk. If they do, and they are large enough to hold NW 5.1, it will ask if you want to use the existing partitions.

If NetWare partitions do not exist, Install will now help you set them up.

NetWare offers many choices on how to set up a server's hard drives. These choices revolve around carving the drive up into volumes -- each volume can be set up with different choices for security, maintenance, and performance. Volumes can split up drives, and they can also unify drives -- a volume can span more than one drive, so it can be bigger than any single drive in the server. Volumes on different drives can also be set up to mirror each other, as a form of on-line backup.

The simplest way to set up a file server is to split the first drive into a DOS partition and a NetWare partition. Give the DOS partition .5GB and let NetWare make a single volume of the rest. NetWare automatically labels the first NetWare volume the SYS volume (this name can't be changed). If there are other drives in the file server, the Install program will identify them. If it finds space that hasn't been partitioned for some other use, it will suggest the unused space be turned into NetWare volumes as well. The virtue of having a single NetWare volume, the SYS volume, is simplicity. The single volume structure works well in small to medium sized environments where tight security and compartmentalizing data are not a big issues.

Once you have answered the questions about how to set up the disk drives, NetWare will begin to load itself. It will put up a flash screen. You can view what is going on behind the scenes by typing an <ALT<ESC. This will show you the various .NLMs being loaded as NetWare switches out of the DOS environment into the NetWare OS environment.

New Install or Upgrade: If Install detects a previous version of NetWare installed on the server, it will ask if you wish to do a new install or an upgrade. If not, it will ask you for a file server name and suggest a file server internal address number. The file server name is up to you, and you will use it a lot; internal address number is used by IPX, and you will rarely see it.

It will also ask you what sub-directory in the DOS partition you wish to have the NetWare installed into. This directory will hold SERVER.EXE -- the NetWare kernel -- and those programs the kernel needs to run before it finds and mounts the NetWare SYS volume. This will be things such as memory managers and hard disk drivers. Once SYS is mounted, NetWare will look in the SYS:SYSTEM subdirectory for other files and drivers it needs.

Note: In the NetWare environment a volume name ends with a colon. The colon is how NetWare distinguishes server names and volume names (to the left of the colon) from subdirectory names (to the right of the colon).

That said, put in a file server name and choose the default on the rest.

Select settings for the Server: Use NDS 7 or NDS 8 (NDS eDirectory)?

NetWare's newest version of Directory Services is NDS eDirectory (NDS 8), but it is quite different internally from previous versions. It can, for instance, be run on Windows or UNIX boxes as well as NetWare file servers. NDS 7 is more compatible with networks that also have 4.x file servers. Use 7 if the file server will be used in a mixed 4.x and 5.x environment; use 8 if the server is going to be used in a pure 5.x environment. If no 4.x servers are detected, the default will load NDS eDirectory.

Load server at reboot? If the file server goes down for some reason, such as a power failure, should it load NetWare automatically when it comes back up? Usually a good idea, and that is the default.

Server SET parameters? This is an editor that allows the installer to edit the STARTUP.NCF file. STARTUP.NCF is the equivalent of CONFIG.SYS in the DOS/Windows world -- it lists drivers that should be loaded before the hard drive is mounted. Things that might go in STARTUP.NCF include instructions for memory managers, and which drivers to load for hard drives or other storage media.

For a simple installation nothing needs to be added here.

Select regional settings: Select your language and keyboard style.

Once you have answered these questions, the server starts copying files off the CD (this may take a couple minutes).

NetWare has detected these device drivers: NetWare now scans for drivers that concern hard disks and other storage media. It will display drivers it needs for Platform Support and Hotplug Support (if any) and Storage Adapters -- your hard drives and other storage devices.

There should be drivers listed in the storage adapter area, and there should be no need to change them.

Istall checks devices: Using the drivers selected above, the Install program checks what devices it actually finds. It should find the server's hard drive (called IDEHD if it's an IDE drive) and CD (called IDECD if it's an IDE as well).

There should be nothing to change on this screen.

NetWare then uses those drivers to mount the hard disk and CD into the NetWare environment. The next message will say the SYS volume is being mounted.

Once the SYS volume has been mounted, NetWare is getting functional. The previous sections of Install were asking questions that set up the hard drive and filled out entries in the STARTUP.NCF file. The drivers needed will be stored in the DOS partition in the same directory that SERVER.EXE (the kernel) is stored. Once SYS is mounted, the questions will fill out entries made to the AUTOEXEC.NCF file. AUTOEXEC.NCF is the equivalent to AUTOEXEC.BAT in the DOS/Windows world, and is stored in the SYS:SYSTEM directory. Both STARTUP.NCF and AUTOEXEC.NCF are text files and can be edited manually.

The next item on the agenda is setting up to talk to the rest of the world, and that requires setting up the network boards. The install program scans for network boards in the file server and displays what kind it has found.

The Network Boards section displays the networking boards Install has found in the file server. An NLM will be loaded appropriate to each board found. The NetWare Loadable Modules (NLM) section allows you to call up additional NLMs for the network boards, if they are needed.

If there is an entry for each board, simply continue.

Note: If what Install displays during these setup screens is not correct, you are into troubleshooting mode. If NetWare is getting the hard disk drivers right and SYS mounts successfully, you may continue the installation and diagnose after Install completes, or you may manually add entries for what you know is in the machine, or abort the installation, try again, and see if NetWare can find the right information on a second try.

If Install has a problem before asking about the network boards, you should probably abort the installation and try again because if SYS volume can't get mounted properly, then nothing Install is figuring out will get written to SYS properly.

When questions about the network boards are answered, Install will then download and unzip a long series of files. These are the files for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). The JVM will run the GUI part of the installer.

Midway through this part of the install, the GUI will be invoked and you get to see a moving gears icon and of course answer more questions.

Mount all volumes? Right now, only SYS is mounted. The alternative is to have Install mount all the volumes you designed earlier in the install process. This would be useful if, for instance, you planned on loading the web server software on to some volume other than SYS.

For a simple installation, take the default: no.

Specify the network protocols for each board: One of NetWare's oldest virtues is support of many LAN protocols. This is the section where the installer gets to choose which protocol will be used on the network.

In today's world there are two common choices: IP and IPX. Let me quickly summarize their similarities and differences.

Similarities: IP and IPX are routing protocols. Both will support lots and lots of users connected together through complex series of connecting devices such as bridges and routers, and through various kinds of media such as fiber, twisted pair, and wireless.

Both can allow workstation users to access the Internet and other kinds of networks, and both can be used to connect various workstation environments such as Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX.

Differences: IP is the protocol used on the Internet. Novell, as well as much of the industry, sees IP as the protocol of the future. But it is an older protocol than IPX, and it requires a lot of manual setup involving selecting IP addresses and subnet masking.

IPX was developed by Novell in the early eighties. It was inspired by a Xerox PARC-designed protocol that was designed roughly ten years after IP was designed. It is much more automated than IP, so it is much simpler to administer. In the IPX environment, addressing is essentially transparent to the user and administrator.

Install will allow you to select IP, IPX, or both. For the simplest installation, select IPX. If you are comfortable with IP and want to manually control addressing in this installation, select both.

Specify parameters for Domain Name Service (DNS): If you have selected IP, you will be asked to specify a domain name server. This is the server to which the file server can look to find addresses on the Internet (or the intranet if this is a purely internal network). In a small isolated network DNS is not needed, click on Next. You will get a warning that DNS is not implemented, click on Continue.

Install NetWare Directory Services (NDS): Directory Services is the heart of the Novell environment, and it can get very complicated. It is a hierarchical environment, somewhat like Domain Name Services. The top of the environment is the tree; the installer must pick a tree name. The tree is represented by the "[root]" container, and in that container you must put an "organization" container (you have the option of going deeper and putting in subcontainers, called "organizational units" as well).

The file server, users, and all other things that Directory Services "knows" about, are objects that reside in containers. During this install process you must select in which container object the file server and the first user, Admin, will appear. For this installation keep it simple. Give your tree a name (I'm partial to Oak), and create just one organization container. Call it ABC if you like. Put the server in that container, and Admin will follow automatically.

Password for user Admin:You will be asked to give a password to user Admin. Admin is the "super user" in NetWare 5, but he or she isn't very super compared to super users in other environments. User Admin is necessary for performing the highest level functions of Directory Services, such as merging trees and licensing, but Admin can be cut out from administering parts of the tree by installing inherited rights filters on containers (something we will not be doing as part of a simple installation). For now, give Admin a password, and Admin by default will have full rights to all the system.

Put in your license disk: Licensing is in transition at Novell, so the kind of license you get and the particulars of where you install it in the directory tree will vary. However, the license is likely to come on a floppy disk, and this is the point in the install process when you put the floppy disk in the computer and let Install know the disk is in the A: drive. Licenses are files, typically with a .NLF extension. Install will search drives and display the licenses it finds, you then get to select or deselect the particular licenses to use.

You can finish the installation without having a license disk. If you do, the server will permit only two connections until a license is installed.

Select the context for the license: You may be asked to select a server or select context for the license. Select the server or select the container the server object is in, as appropriate.

Please select the components to install: This is the "kid in the candy shop" portion of the install where you get to decide which of NetWare's many additional services to add to the basic file server service.

NetWare had grown a lot in functionality since its "file and print service" days. Much of what is offered on this screen supports web site services. Here is a brief description of the products.

  • Novell Certificate Server--allows the file server to issue digital certificates. Certificates are used by web browsers and e-mail when sending secure (encrypted) transmissions.

  • LDAP Services--Used to the support the LDAP protocol when talking with NDS Directory Services. LDAP is an Internet-standard way of talking to a directory service.

  • NetWare Management Portal--Novell's latest and greatest way to do file server administration. The Management Portal allows the network administrator to talk to the file server using a web browser.

  • Storage Management Services--Allows the server to create NSS volumes as well as traditional style. NSS volumes are better suited for huge volumes.

  • Novell Distributed Print Services (NDPS)--Novell's latest and greatest way of handing printing. Works best if the printers attached to the network are also NDPS compliant.

  • Novell Enterprise Web Server--lets the file server be a web server as well.

  • NetWare News Server--lets the file server act as an Internet news server as well.

  • NetWare Web Manager-- an earlier "lite" version web server-- included for backwards compatibility.

  • NetWare FTP server--lets the file server act as an FTP server so clients can access files on the server using the FTP protocol.

  • IBM Websphere Application Server--IBM's Websphere development package for building web sites.

  • NetWare Web Search--a tool for indexing web pages so they can be searched faster.

  • Novell DNS/DHCP server--puts DNS and DHCP on the file server. DNS is domain name service for finding IP addresses from domain names, and DHCP is for handing out IP addresses dynamically when clients come on-line.

  • Novell Internet Access Server--handles connections to the Internet and remote connections to the server.

  • WAN Traffic Manager Services--helps the network administrator control traffic over WAN links by setting policies for those links.

  • NetWare Multimedia Server--allows the server to handle Quality of Service (QoS) requests so that files such as video files can be downloaded in a steady manner.

For a simple installation on an isolated network, you need none of the above. You can load those you wish to experiment with now, or later after the installation is complete.

If you select products, you will be asked a few more questions that some of the products need answers for. No matter what you select, Install will finally take you to a screen showing what has been selected and ask you to select Finish.

Once finish is selected, Install gets into some serious file downloading. When that downloading is finished, the server will be ready to serve after it has been rebooted. Now it's time to install the client.

Installing NetWare client on a workstation is straightforward. Simply put a NetWare Client CD in the workstation and let it run. It will ask a few questions, such as should IP or IPX be used as a protocol. Do this with the file server running, and the client install will detect the file server and answer a lot of questions on its own (such as what protocol and what network number to use). Install will then reboot the workstation and, when it comes up again, ask you for a user name, a context to log into (the container that has the user), and a password. Log in as Admin in the organization you created during install, and you're in.

Microsoft offers a NetWare client with Windows, but it's important that any workstation you will be administering from have its client installed from the Novell CD. The Microsoft version emulates an old version of NetWare client, and can't run NWAdmin properly.


The principle tool for administering NetWare is NWAdmin. You're on your way to being an administrator after you invoke NWAdmin. To do that, locate SYS volume in your MY COMPUTER folder, select the PUBLIC folder, select the WIN32 folder, and select NWADMIN32 to run. You may notice a couple of drives labeled as SYS volume, the difference between them will be the drive letter associated with them. NetWare still remembers its "supporting DOS roots" and likes drive letters -- one of these acts a standard drive, and the other acts a search drive. For now, choose either one.

With NWAdmin running you will be able to add users, printers, control who accesses files and do all the other things NetWare administrators do. You've finished installing NetWare on the file server, and on the client, and you're ready to control your network!


This article has discussed the concepts and issues involved in the installation of NetWare. After a brief overview of the hardware required for such an installation and a synopsis of some of the pertinent NetWare concepts, you've received step-by-step instruction of the actual installation process. The instruction had included helpful commentary on many of the steps involved with NetWare installation. For more information about NetWare, please see:

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.

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