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Where'd my console screen saver go?

Starting with NetWare 5, Novell separated the screen saver from the console monitor program and added several new features. John Sheesley explains how to re-launch the screen saver on your NetWare 5.x file server.

If you’ve used NetWare 4.x before, you know that the server’s screen saver will appear after you load the Console Monitor and walk away from your server for a while. However, when you load the Console Monitor on NetWare 5.x and walk away, you may have noticed that you can come back much later and find that the screen saver never started. Why not? In this article, we’ll show you why.

Novell’s familiar snake screen saver has traditionally been a part of the server’s Console Monitor program, MONITOR.NLM. With the introduction of NetWare 5.x, Novell removed the screen saver from MONITOR.NLM and placed it in its own NLM. This NLM is called SCRSAVER.NLM.

As with all NetWare NLMs, the screen saver NLM loads at your server’s console. You can start it at any time after your server boots. You also can include the startup command in your server’s AUTOEXEC.NCF file in order to make the screen saver load automatically when you restart your server.

To load the screen saver on a NetWare 5.x server, type load scrsaver at the console prompt and press [Enter]. This command loads the screen saver into your server’s memory, where it waits to execute. Unlike the screen saver on early versions of NetWare 4.x, the screen saver will activate after the set amount of time passes—no matter which program you’re currently displaying on the server’s console. It will activate even if you’re running NetWare’s GUI.

When the screen saver activates, you’ll see the traditional red snake appear. The snake’s length will vary depending on the server’s CPU load. If you have more than one CPU in your server, the screen saver program will display as many snakes as your server contains. Each snake will have a different color.

By default, the screen saver loads with password protection turned on. It also loads with a 10-minute delay.

Novell gives you a great deal of control over how the screen saver behaves. You can make it execute automatically when you load the NLM, and you can change the default execution time to whatever you want. With the new screensaver, Novell has increased the screen saver’s security by tying the password authentication portion of the screen saver to NDS, rather than allowing you to create your own password for the screen saver.

Some of the new switches you can use to customize SCRSAVER.NLM include:
  • ·        ACTIVATE—This switch activates the screen saver immediately after the NLM loads.
  • ·        AUTO CLEAR DELAY—This switch sets the number of seconds of waiting before the Unlock dialog box is cleared. It prevents the Unlock dialog box from burning into the screen if it’s turned on accidentally. You can set the value to anything between 1 and 300 seconds. The default is 60 seconds.
  • ·        DELAY—This switch sets the number of seconds that the screen saver waits before activating. You can set this value to anything between 1 and 7,000 seconds. The default is 600 seconds (10 minutes).
  • ·        DISABLE—This switch disables the screen saver. It leaves SCRSAVER.NLM loaded in memory but prevents it from activating.
  • ·        DISABLE AUTO CLEAR—This switch disables the automatic clearing of the Unlock dialog box. If you use this switch, the Unlock dialog box remains on the screen until you clear it. This switch takes precedence over the values set in the Auto Clear Delay switch.
  • ·        DISABLE LOCK—If you set this switch, you don’t need to supply a username or a password to clear the screen saver. You can clear the screen saver by pressing any key.
  • ·        ENABLE—This switch enables the screen saver. You don’t have to specify this option when you start the screen saver; it’s assumed by default. You need it to restart the screen saver if you’ve previously used the DISABLE command.
  • ·        ENABLE AUTO CLEAR—This switch enables the automatic clearing of the Unlock dialog box. Like the Enable switch, it’s a default value, and you only need to specify this switch if you’ve previously used the Disable Auto Clear switch.
  • ·        ENABLE LOCK—This switch enables the console locking. When it’s enabled, the screen saver requires you to enter a valid username and password before restoring the console display. It’s a default value, too, and doesn’t need to be specified at start up.
  • ·        HELP—This switch displays the NLM command options.
  • ·        NO PASSWORD—In the event that NDS becomes unavailable, this switch allows you to unlock the console without using a password. You’ll use this option often if you enter DSRepair.
  • ·        STATUS—This switch displays the current status of the screen saver and the options that you’ve selected.

To use these options, type them one at a time after the load scrsaver command, separating each one with a [;]. For example, if you want the screen saver to execute automatically when you load the NLM but don’t want the console to be locked, type load scrsaver activate;disable lock at the server’s console prompt and press [Enter].

Screen saver caveats
The NetWare screen saver is a simple little program, but there are a few gotchas of which you should be aware. First, if you’re using the NetWare 5 GUI, the screen saver may start unexpectedly. It can activate if you’re using only the mouse and haven’t pressed a key on the keyboard within the screen saver’s DELAY timeout setting. The screen saver watches keyboard activity only. It doesn’t keep track of mouse movement or clicks.

Second, if you enter DSRepair, you should unload or disable the screen saver. If you don’t, there’s a chance that the screen saver may lock you out of your server’s console. It can lock you out if DSRepair takes NDS offline while you’re performing a long repair and the screen saver executes during its DELAY timeout. If you try to unlock the screen saver, you may not be able to do so; the screen saver will try to check NDS but can’t because DSRepair has made it unavailable. If this happens, you may be forced to enter Debug mode on your server and down it manually.

With each new release of NetWare, Novell makes changes and improvements to its software—even with minor features, such as the screen saver. Starting with NetWare 5, Novell separated the screen saver from the console monitor program and added several new features to it. In this article, we showed you some of these changes and explained how to re-launch the screen saver on your NetWare 5.x file server.

John Sheesley has been supporting networks since 1986, when he got his hands on NetWare 2.2. Since then, he’s worked with the Jefferson County Police Department in Louisville, KY and the Genlyte-Thomas Group. John’s been a technical writer for several leading publishers, including TechRepublic, The Cobb Group, and ZDJournals. If you’d like to contact John, send him an e-mail .

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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