9 Apr 1995

Novell Users

Novell was the first major vendor of servers for networks of personal computers. The Netware package is a specialized operating system optimized to act as a file server. Netware will outperform any other package on the same hardware. There is an enormous body of installed systems. Consultants everywhere have been trained on Netware and will immediately recommend it to all clients.

Are You Sure You Want to Do This?

Unfortunately, Novell has been slow to keep up with modern technology. They have a poor record of delivering client software for new operating systems such as OS/2, Windows for Workgroups, or Windows NT. Microsoft has finally given up and is writing its own Novell client software in response.

However, the Netware server also deserves a second look. Efficiency is critical when you try to build a server on an 8 MHz 286 machine. It becomes less important when there are Pentium and RISC systems available. Netware may still run faster than Windows NT 3.5 Server or IBM LAN Server 4.0 on the same 66 Mhz 486 DX2, but Netware costs thousands of dollars more than the other packages. Take the money that you save and pump it into a faster processor and more memory, and the other systems will outperform Netware at the same dollar cost even if they can't match it on identical hardware.

Windows NT 3.5 is a real operating system, with applications, tools, and services. It can provide the file and print services that Netware offers. It can also act as a high performance, low cost database server with SQL Server and a network management center with Microsoft SMS. On the Internet, it can act as an FTP server, print server, Gopher server, Web server, and WAIS server.

IBM's OS/2 offers much the same story. It can support transactions with CICS for OS/2, handle database requests locally on DB2 or passed through to the mainframe. It offers an FTP file server, LPD print server, Gopher server, and Web server.If it is possible to double the CPU speed and memory for an extra $1500 spent on the system unit, then it is not necessary to pay $5000 more for a more efficient server operating system. Use one of the less expensive, less efficient, less complicated, and more versatile operating systems and throw cheap silicon at the remaining problems.

Standard Clients

Windows 95 (Chicago) has Novell client package written by Microsoft. It coexists with support for NT servers and the Internet in the modern 32-bit network environment. It is installed by default with the Chicago systems.

Windows NT 3.5 also contains a Microsoft client package. When an NT Server is installed, it can be configured as a gateway so that Windows workstations that have only the Microsoft client component can have requests passed through the NT Server to a Novell Server. This allows access to Novell files and printers without requiring the client to install Novell software.The full function version of the "Warp" OS/2 3.0 release will include the Novell client software as a standard piece. Hopefully, it will be possible to install it without having to read the two IBM Redbooks Netware from IBM: Network Protocols and Standards (GG24-3890-1) and Novell Netware Client for OS/2 Installation and Configuration (GG24-3891-1). If the configuration process does not change, then these books are strongly recommended for anyone who wishes to master the twelve different options that IBM cannot make up its mind about.

Novell Client on Plain Old DOS/Windows

Novell has a product called LAN Workplace for DOS (LWP). This product provides TCP/IP network access from client machines through the network file server. If this is your configuration, you only need to be sure that WINSOCK support is installed with LWP on your machine. Do not install Packet Drivers or Trumpet WINSOCK in this case, but simply skip forward to the installation of the WEBTOOLS client programs.

If the only previous use of the network was to connect to the Netware server, then LAN support may have been installed using the "monolithic" drivers. The local Netware administrator customized a version of the IPX.COM program for the particular type of Ethernet card being used. AUTOEXEC.BAT has statements to load IPX and NETX programs to provide network support.

In more recent times, Novell has begun to realize that it must share the network with other programs. The more modern version of network support is called "ODI". You have ODI in the machine if AUTOEXEC.BAT starts by loading a program called LSL.COM. ODI separates the Ethernet hardware driver from the communications protocols.

At this point, however, it is necessary to wimp out. This is a "do it yourself" document, and Novell does not like to operate this way. Every Novell server has some individual designated as an administrator who chooses the type of network software packaging and manages the configurations and files. An ordinary end user who needs Internet access should try to work the request through channels. There are several solutions:

Different organizations have adopted different strategies. It would be inappropriate for this document to try and pick favorites here, and it would be politically unwise for us to second guess your local network administrators.

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Copyright 1995 PC Lube and Tune -- Windows on the World -- H. Gilbert