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ZENworks for Servers 2: Distributing NetWare Support Packs

Articles and Tips: article

Rick Cox

01 May 2001

In the past, installing support packs on NetWare servers required quite a bit of work. You had to copy the support pack to each individual server. You then had to physically visit each server, run the installation program, supply the administrator username and password, wait for the installation to be completed, and then ensure that the installation was successful.

Of course, the most recent support packs from Novell reduce the number of tasks required for installation. You no longer need to copy the support pack to each individual server; you can install the support pack using a support pack located on a remote server. However, you must still physically visit each server, install the support pack, and ensure that the support pack installation is successful.

If these tasks still seem overwhelming, ZENworks for Servers 2 is the perfect solution. ZENworks for Servers 2 enables you to distribute and install NetWare support packs using ConsoleOne from your desktop, thereby allowing you to substantially reduce the costs of deploying support packs. In fact, one user estimates that using ZENworks for Servers 2 will cut the time it takes him to deploy support packs to his company's servers by 96 percent. (See

ZENworks for Servers 2 automates the entire distribution and installation process for NetWare support packs. In addition, ZENworks for Servers 2 can send you a Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) alert if the server does not reboot successfully.

ZENworks for Servers 2 also provides Tiered Electronic Distribution (TED), which allows you to distribute support packs at a specific time and using a specific number of bytes per second. TED also enables you to conserve bandwidth when you are distributing support packs across slow network links.

ZENworks for Servers 2 automates all of the steps needed to install a support pack, both locally and remotely. Using ZENworks for Servers 2, you can distribute a set of commands to the target server, thus automating the installation process. If a remote link does not have the bandwidth to distribute the entire support pack installation package, ZENworks for Servers 2 enables you to create a CD that you can then send to the remote site. Anyone at the remote site can then insert the CD into the server, and the support pack will be automatically installed.


ZENworks for Servers 2 uses Server Software Packages to automate support pack installation. These Server Software Packages are first created as source packages, which then become compiled packages, as explained below.

  • Source Packages (SPKs). SPKs contain only the commands necessary to install the support pack. You use the SPK to define what the next stage of the Server Software Package--the CPK--will contain.

  • Compiled Packages (CPKs). CPKs contain both the commands and the data that needs to go to the servers to install the support pack. ZENworks for Servers distributes the CPK to Subscribers via Parent Subscribers. A Parent Subscriber is an intermediate server located between the distributing server and other Subscribers, enabling you to efficiently distribute CPKs across a large network. After the Subscriber receives the CPK, it copies the files from the CPK to the target directory and performs tasks such as loading or unloading NetWare Loadable Modules (NLMs), rebooting the server after an installation, and changing AUTOEXEC.NCF files.


Novell has made the SPKs for the most recent support pack available in beta at However, you should note that you must modify these SPK files for your specific site. For example, you must modify variables such as the administrator username and password.

Currently, six SPKs are available. Each SPK is designed for a specific version of NetWare. An SPK is available for both local installations and remote installations of each NetWare version:

  • NW51SP2A.SPK installs Support Pack 2A on a NetWare 5.1 server.

  • NW50SP6A.SPK installs Support Pack 6A on a NetWare 5.0 server.

  • NW4SP9.SPK installs Support Pack 9 on a NetWare 4 server.

  • RM-NW51SP2A.SPK installs Support Pack 2A on a NetWare 5.1 server from a remote server.

  • RM-NW50SP6A.SPK installs Support Pack 6A on a NetWare 5.0 server from a remote server.

  • RM-NW4SP9.SPK installs Support Pack 9 on a NetWare 4 server from a remote server.

As you may guess, all of these SPKs are similar. They all perform the same functions on the platform they support.


Created by compiling the data defined in the SPK, the CPK is the Server Software Package that you deploy to the servers on your company's network. A local installation CPK copies the entire support pack, unpacks the support pack to the target server, and runs the support pack installation program.

A remote installation CPK includes only a few supporting files you need for a remote installation. As a result, ZENworks for Servers 2 enables you to efficiently install support packs from a remote server. (You can download support packs from


The only modifications you need to make within the SPK that Novell provides are on the variables page within the package properties. The variables page contains the variables that will become the default settings on every server that installs the CPK. As a result, variables are resolved on each Subscriber and allow the CPK to be used on every server in the enterprise. (See Figure 1.)

Note. You must define the values of these variables before you compile the SPK to a CPK file. For example, you must define the following variables on the properties page of the NW51SP2A.SPK:


Specify the volume from which the support pack is copied and to which the support pack is installed.


Specify the administrator name that the installation program uses to extend the NDS tree.


Specify the password for the above username.


Specify the target server for the SNMP trap.


Specify the target server's NDS tree.


Specify the minutes the target server waits for the updating server to reboot before sending an SNMP message.


When you distribute a CPK, the package is not encrypted. As a result, if the package is monitored by a network analyzer, someone could easily derive the administrator username and password. For this reason, you should use a temporary username to deploy the support packs.

Although the user must have administrator rights to extend the NDS tree during the installation of the support pack, the username should be restricted to only a server login, not a workstation login. After you roll out the support pack, you should delete this temporary user.

By taking these steps, you can secure the deployment of the support pack. The next version of ZENworks for Servers will include a secure support pack solution that supports encrypted distributions.


By using ZENworks for Server 2 to distribute support packs to NetWare servers, you can save your company time--and therefore money. For more information about distributing Server Software Packages and installing support packs, you can read the White Paper that is included with the SPK downloads.

Rick Cox is the product manager for ZENworks for Servers. He is responsible for product functionality and future direction.

* Originally published in Novell Connection Magazine


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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