As your users become more computer-savvy, they’ll want additional capabilities like streaming media, which can present a challenge to NetWare administrators. When you think of providing streaming media capability, NetWare probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Normally, when network administrators want to stream media, they’ll deploy Windows or Linux servers, which, for NetWare admins, could require learning a new platform.

If you’re running NetWare 5.1, you’re in luck. Novell included the NetWare MultiMedia Server as part of NetWare 5.1. With it, you can stream multimedia files directly from your NetWare server. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll show you how to install and administer the NetWare MultiMedia Server.

Author’s note

For the purposes of this Daily Drill Down, I’ll be discussing NetWare MultiMedia Server running under NetWare 5.1. Novell no longer supports NetWare MultiMedia Server on NetWare 6, nor did NetWare MultiMedia Server ship with previous versions of NetWare. In upcoming Daily Drill Downs, I’ll explain how to obtain streaming media capabilities on these platforms.

Streaming media on my NetWare server?
Streaming media can offer many benefits to your users. It gives them a unique tool for video conferencing, marketing, or training. When users know they can create audio or video files for distribution to customers or other users, they’ll come up with all sorts of ways to use it.

NetWare was created before anyone gave streaming media any real thought. Novell didn’t include any facility for the distribution of this new media type when it first started shipping NetWare. During the Internet boom, Novell noticed the success that RealMedia was having marketing its RealServer platform. To get on the bandwagon, Novell created NetWare MultiMedia Server and included it in its newest operating system at the time, NetWare 5.1.

NetWare MultiMedia Server runs as an NLM on your NetWare 5.1 server. You gain the ability to stream audio and video files to your users while keeping the stability of your NetWare 5.1 server and maintaining your comfort level with administering a familiar platform.

In contrast to Microsoft’s use of proprietary file formats for streaming media with Windows Media Services, Novell has embraced more open standards. Using the NetWare MultiMedia Server, you can stream audio files using WAV and MP3 formats. For video files, NetWare MultiMedia Server supports Real Media’s RM format, which means that users can access NetWare media streams from just about any client operating system, including Windows, Linux, Macintosh, or OS/2.

In further support of Internet standards, NetWare MultiMedia Server supports Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) for streaming audio and video files. RTSP is a multimedia presentation control protocol specially designed for streaming files over TCP/IP. Additionally, the NetWare MultiMedia Server supports Adaptive Quality of Service (Adaptive QoS), which adjusts network bandwidth of streamed files depending on network traffic. If the network is heavily congested or a workstation is on a slower link than required by the streamed file, QoS regulates the multimedia data stream to keep the file’s playback from being affected too much.

Installing the NetWare MultiMedia Server
The NetWare MultiMedia Server installs as a part of the NetWare Enterprise Web Server. If you’ve installed the NetWare Enterprise Web Server, you may have already installed the NetWare MultiMedia Server without knowing. You can check to see if the NetWare MultiMedia Server is already on your server by checking NWConfig.

Start NetWare’s 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 see the Currently Installed Products screen. Check the list for a NetWare MultiMedia Server entry. If it’s on the list, the NetWare MultiMedia Server is already installed and you can start using it.

If NetWare MultiMedia Server is not on the list, you must install it. Don’t start installing it right away, though. First, you must make sure your server can support NetWare MultiMedia Server. This process includes making sure you’ve installed TCP/IP on your NetWare server. Because NetWare MultiMedia Server is a Web-based technology, it won’t work if you’re running only IPX on your network.

The NetWare MultiMedia Server relies on the NetWare Web Manager to work properly. Therefore, you must either have previously installed this component or install it concurrently with the NetWare MultiMedia Server. You’ll have to have at least 34 MB free on your server’s SYS volume, even though the NetWare MultiMedia Server itself only takes 3 MB of space.

Novell claims that the NetWare MultiMedia Server and its related components will work fine with a server that meets NetWare’s minimum system requirement of 128 MB of RAM. Even though NetWare MultiMedia Server may work with this configuration, it won’t necessarily work well. If your server is doing lots of additional work, such as serving files, servicing print queues, running a Web server, acting as an NDS master replica, and so on, it will need additional RAM.

To install the NetWare MultiMedia Server, mount the NetWare 5.1 CD-ROM in the server. Start NetWare’s 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 see the Currently Installed Products screen. Double-check the list to see if NetWare MultiMedia Server appears. If you don’t see it on the list, press [Ins] to install a new product. You’ll be able to choose the path that you’ve loaded the CD on. If you’ve previously loaded items from your NetWare CD-ROM, you’ll see the Previously Specified Paths screen. Choose the path and press [Enter]. If you haven’t loaded items from your NetWare CD-ROM or don’t see the file on the list, you’ll have to press [F3] and specify a new path. After you enter the path, press [Enter] to confirm it and start the installation.

For a few minutes, while some temporary files are loaded on your server, you’ll see a File Copy Status screen. Then, the NetWare 5.1 GUI will appear, displaying the Components window. On this screen, you can select the Web components you want to install. For the purposes of this Daily Drill Down, we’ll select only the NetWare MultiMedia Server. If you select others, you’ll see other screens than the ones I’m going to discuss while the components are installing. Even if you don’t select the NetWare Web Manager, NetWare will select it for you because the NetWare MultiMedia Server needs it to run. Select the components you want and click Next.

During the installation, you’ll see the NetWare Web Manager Settings screen appear. You’ll use the NetWare Web Manager to manage the NetWare Enterprise Web Server after you install it. On this screen, you’ll specify the TCP/IP port that the Web Manager listens on. By default, the Web Manager listens on port 2200. You can leave this alone, but changing it might not be a bad idea. Because 2200 is a standard port and is used for managing, a hacker may look for this port. Change the port to something higher than 2200 by entering a new value in the Port Number field. Make sure you note the new port or you won’t be able to manage your Web site later. Click Next to continue.

You’ll see the Summary screen, which displays all of your choices. Click Finish to complete the installation. The installation program will copy files to your server and modify your NDS tree as necessary. After the files copy, you’ll see an Installation Complete window appear. You can view the Readme file by clicking View. Click Close to end the installation.

The installation program will leave you on the NetWare 5.1 GUI. Even though there are no other indications that the installation is complete, it is. Press [Ctrl][Esc] to switch screens back to NWConfig. You’ll then have to reapply your last support pack and restart your server. When your server restarts, you must start the service. After that, you can go to your client workstation, fire up a browser, go to the NetWare Web Manager, and start customizing the NetWare MultiMedia Server.

Starting and stopping the NetWare MultiMedia Server
When you server restarts, the NetWare MultiMedia Server doesn’t load automatically. You must manually start the service in one of two ways. You can do so from within the NetWare Web Manager, which you’ll see below. Or, you can launch the services from the server’s console prompt.

To launch NetWare MultiMedia Server from the console prompt, type media and press [Enter]. NetWare will load the NetWare MultiMedia Server NLM along with these three NLMs:

  • WAVEPL.NLM – Support for .WAV files
  • REALPL.NLM – Support for .RM files
  • MPEGPL.NLM – Support for .MP3 files

You can make the NetWare MultiMedia Server load automatically when your server boots by editing the server’s AUTOEXEC.NCF from your administration workstation using any text editor. You can also edit AUTOEXEC.NCF from your server using EDIT.NLM. Add the media command to the end of the AUTOEXEC.NCF file to make the NetWare MultiMedia Server and its components load at startup.

To unload the NetWare MultiMedia Server from the server’s console prompt, type umedia and press [Enter]. You can also stop the NetWare MultiMedia Server by using the NetWare Web Manager.

Administering the NetWare MultiMedia Server
To administer the NetWare MultiMedia Server, you’ll primarily use the NetWare Web Manager. To start the NetWare Web Manager, start a Web browser on your administrative workstation. In the address field, type https://webserver:2200, where webserver is the DNS name or TCP/IP address of your NetWare server. Make sure you enter https, and not just http. You’ll use SSL to make a secure connection to your NetWare server. Likewise, make sure you include the :2200 at the end to specify 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 error only means that SSL isn’t configured on your server in a way that allows your browser to accept the certificates as valid. The browser will, however, accept a temporary certificate from the NetWare Web Manager Portal. The method with which 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 who have administrator rights can log in to the NetWare Web Manager. If a non-administrator user tries to log in, the NetWare Manager will display another login screen. After three attempts, the NetWare Web Manager displays a blank Web page.

After you log in with your Admin account or a user ID with administrator rights, you’ll see the NetWare Web Manager appear. Scroll down the screen until you see the NetWare MultiMedia Server appear, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
You can administer the NetWare MultiMedia Server using the NetWare Web Manager.

You can turn on the NetWare MultiMedia Server by clicking the On icon and disable it by clicking the Off icon. To configure the server, click the button with your server’s name on it. You’ll see the screen shown in Figure B.

Figure B
The NetWare Web Manager lets you enable and disable the NetWare MultiMedia Server.

On this screen, you can quickly see whether or not NetWare MultiMedia Server is running. As on the main NetWare Web Manager page, you can enable or disable the NetWare MultiMedia Server on this page. To enable it, click Server On. To disable it, click Server Off.

To configure NetWare MultiMedia Server settings, click the Server Settings link in the Server Preferences pane. You’ll see the NetWare MultiMedia Server Settings page shown in Figure C. Here, you can control the number of clients and the file path for multimedia files, and decide how to configure NetWare MultiMedia Server’s Quality Of Service feature.

Figure C
Configure NetWare MultiMedia Server on this page.

In the Maximum Number Of Clients field, select a value to limit the number of concurrent client connections to the server. The maximum number of concurrent client connections allowed is 50, which is also the default value. If you aren’t going to have the maximum number of connections, you can safely reduce the value in this field by selecting a new number from the drop-down list box. Doing so will allow you to save some server resources for other tasks.

When you enter a value for the number of connections, you must also adjust the value of your NetWare server’s Maximum Packet Receive Buffers. This value controls the amount of memory the server uses to store data communications. You can’t do that using the NetWare Web Manager. Instead, you use the Monitor utility at your NetWare server’s console.

To do so, type load monitor at the server’s console prompt. Select Server Parameters from the Available Options menu. Next, select Communications from the Select A Parameter Category menu. You’ll see the Communications Parameters box appear. Scroll through the box until you see the Maximum Packet Receive Buffers. The default value of this field will be 500, but NetWare will automatically adjust this value over time as it judges the amount of work the server does. Make sure you set this value at a rate equal to 100 buffers for every client connection you allow. For instance, if you plan to allow 50 concurrent connections, make sure the value is set to at least 5000.

The Multimedia File Path field on NetWare Web Manager controls the location of your multimedia files. The default location is SYS:/PUBLIC/MEDIACONTENT. You can change this to a different location if you want. For clients to access the multimedia files on the server, the directory should have Public access rights.

The Percentage Of Packets To Be Dropped During Network Congestion field controls NetWare MultiMedia Server’s Quality Of Service (QoS) feature. You can select a value between 0 and 100.

The Adaptive QoS value indicates the number of data packets that the server can drop while sending the files to the clients, depending on the network traffic, before the server resynchronizes the information. If you set this value to zero, NetWare MultiMedia Server disables Adaptive QoS. If you set it to 100, NetWare MultiMedia Server optimizes QoS to help maintain quality at times of peak network traffic.

When you make changes to any of the fields in NetWare Web Manager, you must click Save to save your changes. When you do, NetWare Web Manager will refresh your browser window and display a message letting you know the changes were saved successfully. After that, you must stop and restart NetWare MultiMedia Server from the On/Off link discussed above. Don’t restart your entire NetWare server; just restart the NetWare MultiMedia Server itself.

Playing files from your NetWare server
After you configure your server, you can start using it to serve multimedia files to your users. To get the most use out of NetWare MultiMedia Server, you should install Real’s RealOne player. You can obtain a free version of the RealOne player from Real’s Web Site.

After the player installs, you can test the NetWare MultiMedia Server by copying a WAV, MP3, or RM file to the file location specified above and launching RealOne Player. Click File | Open. When the Open window appears, type rtps://servername/filename, where servername is either the DNS name of your NetWare server or its TCP/IP address and filename is the name of the file you want to stream. Before you know it, you’ll hear or see the file on your workstation.