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Logging In to a NetWare 5 Server Over the Public Internet

Articles and Tips: tip

Scott Lemon
Senior Systems Engineer
Novell Inc.

01 Mar 1998

A while back, I had the privilege to hear Steve Jobs speak at a conference for CIOs. At one point he talked about his first attempt at Internet Commerce, calling it "almost a religious experience" as he described the feeling of typing his credit card number into a web page form, and clicking the button that said "Submit." Having gone through that same experience, I felt that his description was extremely accurate.

I recently had an experience that to me was another near-religious experience- even though all I did was log into a NetWare server. What made it so amazing was that I logged into a Novell NetWare 5 (Beta 2) server . . . over the public Internet!

Fully Functioning TCP/IP

For the last several years, Novell's OS engineers have been working hard to create the next generation of NetWare-version 5. The strategic initiative was to create a scalable platform for delivering standards-based network services. Besides the fact that NetWare 5 includes a new Multi-Processor Kernel and a Java Virtual Machine for developers, it also includes full TCP/IP protocol suite support. This means that a NetWare 5 server can communicate with client workstations, providing the full functionality of NetWare, using either IPX or TCP/IP ... or both!

I have been using NetWare since 1986 when I was working for one of the first Novell OEMs and got to experiment with the first IPX routing functionality. I have been working with every version of NetWare since, all of them using the IPX protocol. So when I received my NetWare 5 Beta 2 CD-ROM, I decided that it was time to experience NetWare services accessible over TCP/IP to see just how easy this would be.

NetWare's TCP/IP support, dubbed Native/IP, is a full migration of the Novell NCP service protocol to run over TCP/IP instead of Novell's IPX protocol. This migration was no simple feat-all of the innovation that had been included in IPX, including features of the Service Advertising Protocol (SAP) and IPX Routing Information Protocol (RIP), had to be reproduced.

Most people take for granted that IPX has never required administrators to assign unique addresses on each client. IPX also did not require administrators to assign fixed addresses of "name servers" so that users can find resources. TCP/IP and the Internet are only beginning to provide these types of services, using newly developed or enhanced standards such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Service Location Protocol (SLP). NetWare 5 has fully embraced these standards, along with others such as Domain Name Service (DNS), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and, on the client side, Winsock2.

Installing TCP/IP Only

In NetWare 5 Beta 2, the workstation client defaults to installing the "compatibility mode" driver in order to ease migration from pure IPX environments to mixed IPX and TCP/IP environments. If you want to experiment with the Native/IP implementation in Beta 2, you will want to do a custom installation and uncheck the installation option for the compatibility mode driver. (In NetWare 5 Beta 3, the compatibility mode driver installation will default to being an option rather than the actual default.)

For my first Native/IP test, I installed the NetWare 5 Beta 2 on a test server at Novell headquarters, and then installed the client on my test laptop. The Beta 2 installation went smoothly, only asking me for minimal information. When the time came, I configured the IP address information. To make my point, I did not bind IPX to any of the adapters in my server-TCP/IP only! I then installed the Windows 95 client software on my laptop, choosing the "Custom" installation option and unchecking the "compatibility mode" driver installation.

When prompted, I indicated that I wanted my client to be able to access both IPX and IP NetWare servers. When using TCP/IP, the client will use the TCP/IP stack that you have installed on your workstation, usually the Microsoft TCP/IP stack. Upon booting my laptop, I was able to see my standard IPX servers ... and upon trying I was able to map a drive to my IP-only server! This was a small thrill, but I was testing this on two machines-a laptop and a server-that were sitting a couple of feet apart, attached to the same Ethernet hub. Now it was time to test in the real world ... on the public Internet!

The Grand Experiment

Years ago, when I first got interested in the Internet, I set up my own testing lab, with lots of clone PCs and hubs, routers, switches-almost anything I could get my hands on. For Internet access, I upgraded through 14.4Kbps modems, 28.8, 33.6, and then decided it was time to make the leap. I found a deal that I couldn't pass up and bought my first T1. With this type of bandwidth I have been able to do more "real world" testing of Internet services, and it has provided me with an "open" environment to do research. This is where I intended to install my first public Internet NetWare server.

As a final preparation, In December 1997 I purchased a new computer, the most powerful Intel-based machine that I have bought to date. Its specs included:

  • Intel Pentium II 233Mhz Processor & LX Chipset with AGP

  • 128MB SDRAM

  • 6.5GB Ultra DMA Hard Drive

  • 24x Teac CD-ROM

  • Matrox Millennium II PCI with 4MB WRAM and 3D (Yes, NetWare 5 has a GUI!)

It's amazing that I bought all this for a mere $2000, less then my first 8088 PC cost!

On January 14, 1998, I unboxed the computer, installed an old Ethernet adapter that I had laying around, and proceeded to install NetWare 5. Again, the installation ran without a problem, except that the NetWare 5 Beta did not include the drivers for my SMC Ethernet board. One trip out on the Web to visit the SMC Web site provided me the drivers that I needed and I was once again off and running. When I booted the machine, I was happy to see a NetWare Speed Index of 19131 ... this is the fastest machine that I have installed NetWare on

Everything seemed to work, so I went to my laptop and logged in. I was glad to see the familiar login script run, and I was soon running the NWAdmin utility and creating a "test" user. By the time I completed this (I had started quite late), it was time to leave for the night ... but my NetWare 5 server, named MOAB, was on the ‘Net.

The next morning, I was excited to get to work at Novell, and almost immediately tracked down Jay Sevison, the manager of the NetWare Client Team. We located one of the people that work in our IS department, and went over to a lab that has an Internet connection that is outside our firewall.

Note: In NetWare 5 Beta 2, the Native/IP communications occurs using a combination of TCP and UDP protocols. Since most firewalls filter UDP for security purposes, the client server communications might not work through a firewall. NetWare 5 Beta 3 will offer a TCP-only version of communications so that this will work

Although this might sound silly, I didn't know what to feel as I watched Jay boot his laptop. Since we were on an IP Internet segment, he was presented with the "local login" screen only. After entering his password, he opened a DOS Box and typed "MAP NEXT \\MOAB.MYDOMAIN.COM\SYS" and hit Return...and the prompt appeared to enter his NDS user name! We must have seemed like a couple of kids as we typed in the "testT username, and were prompted for the password. I don't know if I was even breathing as we entered the password, but in a moment we saw the confirmation on the screen indicating G: = \\MOAB.MYDOMAIN.COM\SYS. Wow!

We spent the next several minutes getting directories of the SYS volume and looking at some files that I had copied there. Then I ran to tell other people that we had just logged into Novell's NetWare 5 Beta 2, running on a server 14 hops away across the public Internet, on the first try!

In the week following this event, Novell's World-Wide Systems Engineering (SE) Team has been experimenting with logging into my server from various locations. In the five days after my first login, we had SEs logging in from half-way around the world! It's almost funny that we have been doing this in the labs at Novell for quite a while, but I guess that's what made this "almost a religious experience"-our beliefs of what could and would happen actually occurred! NetWare is now a "native" member of the Internet, providing its services using Internet protocols.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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