OS/2 eZine

16 November 2000
R. Bret Walker is a Certified NetWare Engineer who resides with his wife and two children in the South Jersey / Philadelphia Metro area. He first became exposed to OS/2 in 1995, when Sony in northern New Jersey was looking for "an expert in NetWare who knows anything at all about OS/2." Although he ultimately turned down the job, he has since become an OS/2 junkie. A huge fan of the cinematic arts, in his spare time he writes reviews for and maintains The People's Reviews.

If you have a comment about the content of this article, please feel free to vent in the OS/2 eZine discussion forums.

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NetWare Network Administration using OS/2 tools

Part 1: NetWare 3 opens the door

It's happened. The PC-based server known as NetWare has gone over to the dark side. Anyone in charge of administering a NetWare network of any flavor knows that the bulk of the administration tools are written in Windows code. Heck, when Novell released the NetWare 3.2 Enhancement Pack (for upgrading 3.1x servers to 3.2), they even included a nifty Windows-based SYSCON.

But where does that leave the OS/2 community? There are several firms worldwide that use both NetWare for a network environment and OS/2 for a desktop environment. What kind of options do those network administrators have available to them?

This three-part article will examine just that. First, we'll examine the roots of NetWare administration using OS/2, starting with the 3.12 Bindery-based environment. With that foundation, we'll move on to see where NetWare administration leaves the OS/2 community when the port to the super-sturdy NDS structure occurs in NetWare 4 and 5. We'll also look at the latest NetWare administration tool, the Java-based ConsoleOne, and how that figures into the picture. In the end, we'll see that, through no fault of their own, Novell has not left the OS/2 community completely high and dry.

Back to Basics

Before we can examine how to administer a NetWare 3 environment in OS/2, we first have to understand what the NetWare 3 environment is.

NetWare 3 uses what is called a Bindery for network access. The Bindery is a database that contains users and their access parameters, disk volumes and access rights to files on them, printers and their associated queues and servers, and the protocols that bring it all together. The Bindery is a flat network structure. Each server has its own Bindery, and users that need to access multiple servers have to have user objects created on each server. File and print services and security are the strong points of Bindery, but little else.

NetWare 3 is unique among early network operating systems in that it supports a wide variety of client types: DOS, DOS/Win, OS/2, Unix, and Macintosh. The NetWare file system allows for loading and unloading different name spaces to the volumes to accommodate efficient and effective sharing of files between dissimilar clients.

In NetWare 3, all of the client-based administration utilities are DOS based, and can be found in the directory SYS:PUBLIC (SYS: is the NetWare system volume and contains all of the NOS files required to run the server).

The most important tools are:

1. SYSCON, or the SYStem CONsole. This is the tool that is used to create users and groups, create and alter login scripts, change passwords, you name it. This is the engine of the administration tools.

2. PCONSOLE, or the Print CONSOLE. This is the tool to use to create printer objects, print queues, and print servers.

3. RCONSOLE, or the Remote CONSOLE. This is the tool that give the computer remote access to the server and allows the user to input console commands from the workstation. This is extremely useful when the server is all the way at the other end of the building.

4. FILER, the NetWare file manager. FILER allows you to purge and salvage deleted files, create user access restrictions to files, and perform all of the file management tasks related to NetWare.

5. NCOPY is a 32-bit copy utility that allows you to copy or move files and keep file access and file attributes intact.

There are other tools, but these are the most used of the bunch. These tools must be run from DOS or a DOS window; there are no Windows-based utilities for NetWare 3 (except for SYSCONW, which we mentioned earlier, but we won't count that).

Novell, in their quest for excellence, initially saw OS/2 as a useful platform for performing administration tasks. Therefore they also created OS/2 command-line utilities that work just as well, and in many cases better, than their DOS counterparts. These utilities can be found in the SYS:PUBLIC\OS2 directory, and run in an OS/2 command window.

Connect Warp!

Before we can talk about administering a NetWare 3 network, first we have to connect to it. The NetWare client for OS/2 is client version 2.12. Although there hasn't been any development on client 2.12 since Warp Connect, it does what it needs to do: connect you to the NetWare environment.

The NetWare client is installed through the Selective Install for Networking applet. Trust me on this, it works much better that way. Trying to install the NetWare client with the NetWare Client Install applet is like doing your taxes with an abacus and a blindfold. When the configuration panel comes up, you'll be asked to specify whether it is a Bindery (3.x) or NDS (4.x) environment. By default, NDS is selected, so first you want to choose Bindery, then specify the name of the server you are connecting to. Also, make sure you bind the correct protocol to the adapter. Binding 802.3 Ethernet in an 802.2 environment will yield disastrous results. For more on installing network components, see "OS/2 and Home Networking Part 2" from the June issue of OS/2 eZine.


In order to really administer a NetWare 3 system, you need to log in as either the user SUPERVISOR, or a user with supervisor privileges. While there are certain conditions by which you can run the administration tools without doing so, logging in as a supervisor equivalent user will always make it simpler.

Once you are logged in as Supervisor or equivalent (from here on out, we'll refer to both Supervisor and supervisor equivalent users as simply "Supervisor"), you are ready to run the administration tools. All of the aforementioned tools, with the exception of RCONSOLE, have OS/2 command-line utilities which reside in the directory SYS:\PUBLIC\OS2. However, the RCONSOLE utility provided a little more excitement, because Novell actually authored a utility that runs in an OS/2 PM environment.

In the SYS:\PUBLIC\OS2\REMCON directory is the utility REMOCON.EXE. Below are some screen shots of what the utility looks like:

Fig 1: Choosing the server

Fig. 2: The Server MONITOR in the RCONSOLE screen

Fig 3: Changing screens with the menu

As you can see, putting this tool in the PM environ ment makes it a very versatile tool. Good news, too: if you copy the REMCON directory to a diskette, you can run it on any OS/2 machine, and use it to attach to any NetWare 3 or better file server, even Netware 5.x! Sadly, however, this utility is not included with later versions of NetWare, so if you don't have access to a 3.12 server, you are out of luck.

So what does it mean to me?

Well, for starters, it means that Novell did, at one time, believe that OS/2 was the powerful platform that we all know it to be. Somewhere along the way, however, they lost sight of it and stopped development of tools for the OS/2 environment. In fact, only REMOCON runs in the PM environment. However, as we'll see in the next article, the development of Java tools for NetWare administration opened up the doors for the OS/2 community, although Novell really didn't plan it that way. But with NetWare 5 and its inherent support for Java and server-based applications, Novell has reunited our preferred 32-bit desktop environment with the most stable, secure, and versatile PC-based network environment.

Next month: NetWare 4 turns its back.

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