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Weave your way through basic administration tasks with the NetWare Web Manager

The NetWare Enterprise Web Server makes a good alternative to IIS. But, as a NetWare administrator that means you'll have to learn a new administration utility: the NetWare Web Manager. John Sheesley shows you what you'll face.


The Netscape Enterprise Web Server (NEWS) is a good alternative to IIS for organizations that run NetWare. However, as a seasoned NetWare administrator, you’ll find that administering NEWS means using a new administration utility; you can’t use NetWare Administrator or ConsoleOne. Instead, you’ll use the NetWare Web Manager. Let me fill you in on how to perform some basic administration tasks with it.

Author's note
In this Daily Drill Down, you’ll be seeing the administration screens for the NetWare Enterprise Web Server running on NetWare 5.1 with Support Pack 3a. If you’re running the Netscape Enterprise Server for NetWare on an earlier version of NetWare, most of the things I’ll discuss here will still work. You’ll find the screen layouts to be a bit different, but the basic concepts will be the same.

What it is and how it works
The NetWare Web Manager utility is different than NetWare Administrator and ConsoleOne, mainly in that it runs completely within a Web browser. Where you can only run NetWare Administrator as a Windows application on a Windows workstation and ConsoleOne only runs on a Windows workstation or your NetWare server, you can run the NetWare Web Manager on just about any workstation with a Web browser. On our test network here, I was even able to launch it on a workstation running Netscape 4.61 on OS/2 and another one running Konqueror under Red Hat Linux 7.1.

The NetWare Web Manager allows you to control many different aspects of NEWS including:
  • Setting document directories.
  • Configuring network settings.
  • Shutting down and restarting Web services.
  • Viewing log files.
  • Configuring multiple servers and sites.
  • Modifying Web server parameters.

You can also use the NetWare Web Manager to administrate more than just NEWS. With it, you can configure settings for NetWare FTP Server, NetWare News Server, NetWare Web Search Server, and NetWare Multimedia Server. It also lets you administer multiple servers running NEWS.

The NetWare Web Manager installs when you install NEWS. You can verify that you’ve installed it by running NWConfig at your server’s console prompt.

Start the NWConfig utility by typing load nwconfig and pressing [Enter]. Select Product Options from the Configuration Options screen and press [Enter]. When the Product Options menu appears, select View/Configure/Remove Installed Products and press [Enter]. You’ll then see the Currently Installed Products screen. Check the list to see if both NWWebAdmn and NWWebSrv appear on the list. If they’re both there, the NetWare Web Manager is already installed, and you’re ready to go. If not, you’ll have to install NEWS, at which time the NetWare Web Manager will install automatically.

The NetWare Web Manager consists of a set of NLMs that run on the server and some extensions to the NetWare Enterprise Web Server. When NetWare 5.1 installs, the installation program adds the Load NSWeb command to load the NLM to the server’s AUTOEXEC.NCF. If you want to manually load the Web Manager, type load nsweb at the server console and press [Enter].

You can check to see if the NetWare Web Manager is running on your server by going to the console and pressing [Alt][Esc]. If it's running, you’ll see it listed on the Current Screens menu. Press the number associated with the NetWare Web Manager and press [Enter]. You’ll then see the NetWare Web Manager screen shown in Figure A.

Figure A
You can check the status of the NetWare Web Manager from this screen.


You can’t do much from this screen; your only options are to restart or shut down the NetWare Web Manager. However, the screen is useful in verifying the status of the NetWare Web Manager and for checking the TCP/IP port number to access the NetWare Web Manager if you ever forget it.

Pack a roadmap and a sandwich
Let’s see how you perform some basic management tasks. I’ll focus on the parts of the NetWare Web Manager that deal with NEWS. If you’ve installed other Web services, you’ll see a few additional choices on the main menu. You can view them, but don’t make any changes unless you’re sure of what you’re doing.

To start the NetWare Web Manager, open a Web browser on your administrative workstation. In the address field, type https://webserver:2200 where you replace webserver with the DNS name or TCP/IP address of your NetWare server. Make sure you enter https, and not just http. This ensures you’ll use SSL to make a secure connection to your NetWare server. Likewise, make sure you include the :2200 at the end. This specifies the NetWare Web Manager port number. If you leave the :2200 off or just enter http before the address, the NetWare Web Manager won’t appear.

After you enter the address and press [Enter], your browser may display errors about an invalid site certificate. Don’t panic if it does. The errors only mean that SSL isn’t configured on your server in a way that your browser can accept the certificates as being valid. The browser will, however, accept a temporary certificate from the NetWare Web Manager Portal. The way each browser does so differs. Just read the screens carefully and follow the browser’s instructions.

After finishing with the certificate information, the NetWare Web Manager will ask you to log in. Only those users with administrator rights can log in to it. If a nonadministrator user tries to log in, the NetWare Web Manager will display another login screen. After three attempts, it displays a blank Web page.

After you log in with your Admin account or with a user ID with administrator rights, you’ll see the NetWare Web Manager appear as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
You can administer NEWS using the NetWare Web Manager.


The site is broken down into two major areas. Across the middle you’ll see the General Administration menu bar with links to areas that can configure overall settings for the server. In the lower portion of the page, you’ll see the available services that the NetWare Web Manager can manage. Under each service, you’ll see a list of servers running the particular service. Each server is represented by a button. If a service is currently running on a server, the ON light will be lit. Conversely, if a service isn’t running, you’ll see the OFF light.

General administration tasks
The General Administration menu bar provides links to the following four screens:
  • Admin Preferences—This screen allows you to shut down and restart the NetWare Web Manager. You’ll also go here if you want to change the default listening port for the NetWare Web Manager, enable/disable SSL, set log directories, and view both access and error logs.
  • Global Preferences—On this screen you can change the default directory with which NEWS validates users who try to access NEWS-based information. You can choose from NDS, an LDAP Directory Server, or a local database. Unless you have a good reason to change it, you should leave the default choice of NDS.
  • Users And Groups—From this screen you can browse information about users and groups in your NDS tree. These screens don’t give much detail about the user and group objects, just basic information and membership details. Although you can also change information from these screens, I wouldn't recommend doing so. It’s best to stick with ConsoleOne or NetWare Administrator for basic user or group administration functions. Be especially careful not to click the Delete buttons unless you’re absolutely sure that’s what you want to do.
  • Cluster Management—These screens allow you to control the Web clusters you’ve created. You can add, modify, or delete servers that are part of a cluster.

Server administration tasks
After you’ve looked at the General Administration screens, you can check out the server administration screens for NEWS. As I mentioned, the bottom of the main NetWare Web Manager screen contains the list of Web services available. Under NetWare Enterprise Web Service, click the button with your server’s name on it. You’ll then see the server administration screen on the Server Preferences screen as shown in Figure C.

Figure C
The Server Preferences screen appears first when you enter the server administration screens.


Across the top, you’ll see the following menu choices:
  • Server Preferences—Here, you can start or stop the Web server or view and modify the current server configuration, including things like the server’s name, the port number on which it listens, and secure login settings.
  • Programs—From this screen, you can configure NEWS to act as an application server. You can control settings for CGI, Javascript, and ODBC data sources.
  • Server Status—On this screen you can view various logs generated by NEWS. You can also control how big the logs are and the types of things for which NEWS will create logs.
  • Styles—This screen allows you to control configuration styles for NEWS. Configuration styles allow you to apply a set of options to specific files or directories that your server maintains.
  • Content Management—You’ll probably do most of your configurations from this screen. From here, you can customize file locations for NEWS and change where on your server that files are stored for display. You can also create and configure both hardware and software virtual servers on this screen.
  • Web Publishing—This screen controls the Web publishing features for NEWS. By default, NEWS is configured to support WebDAV, which allows interaction through Office 2000. If you want to use other Web publishing options including the Novell Web Publisher, make changes here. With WebDAV enabled, you won’t be able to do anything on any of the Web Publishing subnavs.
  • Agent Management—This screen also won’t be of any use if you’re using WebDAV; however, if you enable Web Publishing on the Web Publishing screen, you can use the Agent Management screen to configure search agents and Web publishing indexes.

Some practical examples
Now let’s view some practical administration tasks that you can perform in NetWare Web Manager. NEWS includes an informational page about NEWS listing documentation resources, links to Novell’s Web site, and the README file.

I'm sure you don’t want to display this page for your Web site. So you’ll want to create a new home page using any HTML editor. After you’ve created the Web page, create a subdirectory on your server’s volumes and save the file there.

Launch NetWare Web Manager and click servername | Content Management | Primary Document Directory, where servername indicates the name of your server. In the Primary Directory field, enter the name of the directory where you will store your Web pages. By default, the location is /novonyx/suitespot/docs. Click OK to save your changes.

Next, click the Document Preferences link. This link contains the default Web page that loads when a user types in your Web address in their browser. Your first Web page should be named index.html. If you called it something else, you can either rename it or change the value of the Index Filename field to reflect the default Web page you want to display. Click OK to save your changes.

If your users what to create their own custom Web pages, it's not a problem. First, you need to go into NetWare Administrator or ConsoleOne to make sure you’ve created a home directory for the user. If you haven’t, you’ll need to. Then, the user just needs to create a subdirectory in their home directory called public_html. When they create Web pages and store them there, anyone can access them by typing http://servername/~username where servername represents the DNS name or IP address of your server and username is the user’s NetWare login id preceded by ~.

This is a nice feature, but you may not want users to have their own Web pages. If you want to disable the user Web pages, start Novell Web Manager and click servername | Content Management | User Document Directories, where servername indicates the name of your server. When you get the User Document Directories screen, click the Deactivate link.

Finally, let’s suppose you want your Web server to respond to two different URLs. For example, when you enter http://www.techrepublic.com or http://www.techproguild.com in your Web browser, you wind up going to the exact same server, but with a different default screen. To make this work, you’ll create a virtual server on NEWS.

First, start Novell Web Manager and click servername | Content Management | Software Virtual Servers. Enter the name for the second URL in the http:// field. You also need to enter the file name for the default home page of the second URL in the Home Page field. This file must be saved in the directory specified on the Primary Document Directory field, specified above.

When you've finished, click OK. You’ll then see a confirmation screen appear. Click Save And Apply and wait a few minutes. After the changes have been made to NEWS’s configuration files, you’ll see the Software Virtual Servers screen again with your new settings.

From then on, if someone enters your server’s basic URL, they’ll see the page displayed on the Document Preferences screen. If they enter the second URL, they’ll see the page specified in the Software Virtual Servers screen.

Conclusion
When you configure your NetWare server to act as a Web server, you must learn a few new tricks and a new administration utility, the NetWare Web Manager. However, because it’s Web based, you can use it from almost any workstation with a Web browser. Once you are familiar with its features, you should have no problem administering the NetWare Enterprise Web Server.

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