Enterprise Software

Novell releases Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1

NetWare 5.1 is a great product, but it's certainly not perfect. However, Novell does a great job of releasing updates for it. John Sheesley discusses some of the issues surrounding Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.


Even though NetWare 5.1 comes from a long line of stable software, some network administrators make it a policy not to install any network operating system on their network until the release of the first couple of Support Packs. Novell released the second Support Pack for NetWare 5.1 in December 2000. This Support Pack had a few problems, and Novell quickly pulled it, replacing it with Support Pack 2a. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll take a look at the problems Support Pack 2a fixes, the features it adds, and how you install it on your server.
Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1 works only with NetWare 5.1 servers. If you’re running NetWare 5.0, do NOT install Support Pack 2a. Instead, you should download and install Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5.0. For more information on Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5, see “Novell releases Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5.”
Likewise, don’t install Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5.0 on a NetWare 5.1 server. Even though the files are newer with Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5, and many of the NetWare 5.1 and NetWare 5 files and Support Pack files have the same filenames, Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5.0 files will not work properly on a NetWare 5.1 server.
Why do I need Support Pack 2a?
As you know, NetWare is basically a pretty stable platform. Once you have it up and running, there’s really not much you need to do to it. Even though NetWare 5.1 was developed from the solid foundation of NetWare 5—which itself came from the rock bed of the NetWare 4.x generation—bugs are still hiding in the software.

Support Pack 2a replaces almost all system components in NetWare 5.1. Even if you’re not currently experiencing problems with your server, you should apply the Support Pack. If you have any problems with your NetWare 5.1 server and try to call Novell’s Support hotline, the support people won’t talk to you until you install Support Pack 2a.1.
Not only is no software perfect but also quite frequently Support Packs can cause more problems than they fix. Novell has frequently had to recall and re-release Support Packs due to unforeseen problems with them. For example, Novell released Support Pack 2 for NetWare 5.1 but had to pull it and re-release it as version 2a. Since then, although there have been minor issues with the Support Pack, there has been no major recall or problems with Support Pack 2a.
Even so, you may want to install Support Packs only if they address a problem or need that you have, unless you need to speak with Novell Technical Support. Also, make sure you have several good backups of your entire network, especially your NDS database, before proceeding with installing a Support Pack.
Unlike the many separate patches Novell supplied with NetWare 3.x and 4.x, Support Pack 2a includes all of the patches you need for NetWare 5.1 in one single file, including fixes released in Support Pack 1. You don’t need to install any previous patch file before you install Support Pack 2a. Just grab the Support Pack and go.

Support Pack 2a fixes numerous hidden problems with NetWare 1. Some of the problems Support Pack 2a addresses include:
  • Error -625, which deals with the failure of Novell Directory Services to synchronize when the server synchronizes Directory Services objects with large attributes across a WAN with a lot of traffic.
  • DHCP Server abends that occur when you unload DHCPSRVR.NLM.
  • A problem with ConsoleOne hanging if it runs overnight.
  • Abends that may occur in packet handling by DS.NLM.
  • -131 errors that can occur while running DSRepair.
  • Corrupted extended attributes in files with long names.
  • A problem with NCopy sometimes corrupting Microsoft Access files when it copies them.
  • Memory leaks in NDPS.

Fixes carried over from Support Pack 1 include:
  • The NetWare Management Portal was limited to using only the IP address of the portal server rather than its name.
  • On-demand PPP connection with compression enabled didn’t work properly with Novell Internet Access Services.
  • Connection Manager couldn’t always distinguish between Workstation and User objects in the Policy Manager.

Novell has done more than just fix bugs with Support Pack 2a. It has also taken the opportunity to release new features for NetWare 5.1. Here are some of the new features included in Support Pack 2a:
  • It includes a new version of DS.NLM: v8.72.
  • It adds an enhancement that allows DS to cache its objects into memory. This improves performance in NDS.
  • It provides directory space limitations for NSS.
  • It includes improvements in the NetWare FTP server, such as enhancements to anonymous logins and privileges, FTP restrictions, and a better Web Manager interface. (Carried over from Support Pack 1)

Where can I get it?
You can get Support Pack 2a by going to Novell’s Support site at the NetWare 5.1 Support Pack 2a page. On this page, you can view detailed information about the Support Pack and go to the download page. To download the file, click the link with the NW51SP2A.EXE filename.

You can then select the location for downloading the file. Make sure you have plenty of time or a very fast Internet connection. Novell’s Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1 is a monster: It’s 289,116,850 bytes long. On a standard 56K modem, the file can take several hours to download. Even on our T1 connection, the entire file took almost an hour to download.
If you prefer to have the files on CD rather than downloading them from the Internet, you can order Novell’s Consolidated Support Pack CD. The Consolidated Support Pack CD includes the latest Support Packs for NetWare 5.x, NetWare 4.11/4.2, ManageWise 2.7, BorderManager 3.x, and GroupWise 5.5.
Novell plans to update the CD every three months. You can order the CD from Novell for $39 plus shipping and handling. If you currently subscribe to Novell’s Support Connection CD, you’ll receive the Consolidated Support Pack CD automatically. To find out more about the Consolidated Support Pack CD, go to the Consolidated Support Pack CD Web site.
After you download the file to a temporary file on your hard drive, you can run the self-extracting executable to unpack the file. You can extract the file to the root directory of your server’s SYS volume or your workstation’s C drive. If you’re updating multiple servers, you might find it handier to extract the installation files to your workstation and install the Support Pack to your servers from there. When you extract the files from NW51SP2A.EXE, you’ll notice over 1,900 files extract—consuming in excess of 280 MB of space.

Support pack caveats
There are a few small issues you should be aware of before you install the Support Pack. After you’ve finished installing the Support Pack, or if you install new software after applying the Support Pack, you may need to go back and make some adjustments to your server’s configuration. Some of the main problems associated with Support Pack 2a include:
  • If you use ZENworks for Servers 2, you must reinstall the JVM for it after installing the Support Pack because the ZENworks for Server 2.0 JVM is newer than the one in the Support Pack.
  • MASV.NLM may not load after you install the Support Pack. If so, you’ll have to download and install the latest NICI.
  • If you’ve installed LDAP Services for NDS on your NetWare 5.1 server before installing the Support Pack, then the Support Pack installation automatically upgrades LDAP Services for NDS. If LDAP Services for NDS is installed after the Support Pack installation, you need to reinstall the Support Pack to bring LDAP Services for NDS up to the Support Pack level.
  • You may have problems with TCP/IP after installing Support Pack 5 on a NetWare server that already has BorderManager installed. Support Pack 5’s TCP/IP version is only a 56-bit version. If you require 128-bit encryption for your Border Manager VPN, you must contact the Novell Support Connection at (800) 858-4000.
  • If you run NDS 8.0 on your network, the version of DSMerge included with the Support Pack will support only NDS 7.x and later.
  • If you install GroupWise 5.5 on your NetWare 5 server after applying Support Pack 2a, you may have problems with NetWare Administrator. GroupWise 5.5’s installation program overwrites the version of NetWare Administrator on your server with one older than the one included with Support Pack 2a. After installing GroupWise, reinstall Support Pack 2a.
  • You may encounter a problem on your server if it uses an Intel EtherExpress Pro 100B network card. The older E100BLAN driver that came with NetWare 5 and from Intel doesn’t fully support NetWare 5’s C ODI specification. You should switch to the CE100BLAN driver that comes with Support Pack 2a instead.

In some circumstances, you shouldn’t install the Support Pack at all. One of the key circumstances can appear if you are using NFS 3.0 with the NFS Gateway. The NFS Gateway is tied to the NSS version. With the new NSS that is delivered with the Support Pack, the gateway will be broken. Likewise, don’t install this Support Pack on servers that are running the Novell Consulting release of iChain.

Installing the Support Pack
After preparing, you’re ready to install Support Pack 2a on your NetWare 5.1 server. The installation may take some time, so you may want to install it over the weekend or after business hours. If you run multiple NetWare 5.1 servers, you should upgrade them all at once. Likewise, if you have NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers in your tree, you should update them at the same time as your NetWare 5.1 servers.

If possible, you should install Support Pack 2a in a test environment before rolling it out to all of your NetWare 5.1 servers. This is especially true if you use many third-party NLMs for such tasks as backups or network management. Novell tries very hard to make sure that Support Packs don’t break third-party applications, but it can’t test everything. If you double-check your NLMs in advance, you may save yourself some headaches.

You have the choice to install the Support Pack from your server’s console or from your workstation. If you plan to install the Support Pack from your workstation, make sure you have RSPX and RConsole loaded on your server. Then, open an RConsole session on your workstation and connect to your server. Using RConsole is probably the easiest choice if you have many servers to update. After loading RConsole on all of the servers, you can connect to them one at a time and run the update.

You’re now ready to begin applying Support Pack 2a. To begin, type
LOAD NWCONFIG

at your server’s console prompt and press [Enter]. When you do, you’ll see the NetWare Configuration screen. Highlight Product Options on the Configuration Options menu and press [Enter].

You’ll then see the Other Installation Actions menu. Highlight Install a Product Not Listed and press [Enter]. By default, NWConfig tries to install new products from the A drive. To change this, press [F3] to specify a location on your server. If you’re running RConsole, you can press [F4] to specify a location on your workstation. Type the path to the location of where you extracted the NW51SP2A.EXE files and press [Enter].

NWConfig then asks you which file groups you want to install. On this screen, you select whether you want NWConfig to back up files that NWConfig is going to replace. This backup procedure doesn’t replace the full backup you should have done before you started installing the Support Pack to begin with. It only copies older files to a backup directory in case you need to back out the Support Pack. As I said earlier, Support Pack 2a may not be compatible with some of your third-party NLMs. If you don’t check this box, you may have problems backing out the Support Pack.

You also need to select the Install NetWare 5.1 Support Pack check box. If you don’t, the Support Pack won’t load. Press [F10] to continue.

Before the installation starts, NWConfig warns you the server may abend if you have any open DLL files. This includes files such as those used by NetWare Administrator. Make sure all such files are closed before continuing. If they are closed, press [Enter] to continue.

NWConfig also warns you that JAVA.NLM must be unloaded. You’ll see this error even if you’ve already unloaded Java. Don’t panic. Just press [Enter] to go on.

NWConfig then copies the Support Pack 2a files to your server. Depending on the speed of your server, this may take some time. Don’t worry if your server’s console appears to lock up. NWConfig may swap out temporarily to load and unload additional NLMs. As long as the hard drive on your server is making noise, you’re probably okay.

NWConfig may prompt you to enter your Admin user ID and password to install LDAP Services. You’ll need to give the fully distinguished context for the Admin user object in the Administrator Name field. After you enter the ID and password, press [Enter] to continue.

After the files finish copying, you’re done. Double-check all of your .NCF files to make sure Support Pack 2a didn’t accidentally change anything. Shut down and restart your server and go back to work. You can do so by using the DOWN command followed by EXIT and then turning your server off and on. You can also do so by using the RESET SERVER command at the console prompt.

Don’t forget to apply Support Pack 2a to the other NetWare 5.1 servers in your tree. Also, don’t forget to apply Support Pack 6a to any NetWare 5 servers and Support Pack 8a to any NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers that are also in the same NDS tree as your NetWare 5.1 servers.

Conclusion
As a network administrator, one of your most important jobs is keeping your servers up to date. Doing so includes regularly applying bug fixes and Support Packs. In this Daily Drill Down, I showed you Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1.
The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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