Even though NDS has been around since 1996 when Novell first shipped NetWare 4.0, not everything can connect to it. Some network resources, such as network printers, and even operating systems, such as Linux’ basic NetWare client, can’t connect to NDS. In cases like these, NetWare’s bindery emulation kicks in. In this Daily Feature, I’ll explain how you can configure your server to accept bindery connections.

The bindery

In the days before NDS, Windows 2000, and Windows NT, NetWare 3.x ruled the networking world. Rather than using a centralized directory to maintain user and group information, each NetWare 3.x server maintained an individual user database. This database was called the bindery.

Because of NetWare 3.x’s overwhelming popularity, many manufacturers created network resources that accessed it. NDS had a huge uphill battle against the bindery when it was shipped, and to make it easier for network administrators to migrate from NetWare 3.x to the NDS-enabled world of NetWare 4.x, it included a Bindery Emulation mode. This worked against Novell in some respects; some manufacturers decided to stick with writing to the bindery, rather than NDS-enabling their products, because it worked everywhere.

Modifying bindery settings
Bindery emulation is available in NetWare 4.x, 5.x, and 6. Normally, you don’t need to do much to make it work. Occasionally, however, something goes wrong with bindery emulation. Network resources may report that they can’t log on to the server. Such an error usually occurs when you rename your NDS tree or NetWare server. When this happens, you must modify the bindery settings.

Changing the basic bindery settings is as easy as entering a command at your server’s console prompt. To view the current bindery settings for your server, type set bindery context and press [Enter]. Your server will return the current NDS context, where the bindery information resides.

Unless you’ve changed the name of your NDS tree or the name of your server, or moved your server to a different branch in NDS, you shouldn’t ever have to change this information. The bindery context tells clients where to look for bindery resources. So, if you move your NetWare server to a different place in the NDS tree but don’t change the bindery context, NDS will look in the location of the context. When it doesn’t find the requested resource, the client will fail to log in.

To change the location in which NDS should look for bindery resources, type set bindery context = ndscontext, where ndscontext is the fully distinguished NDS context of your resource, such as .O=TPG.TPG for the TPG organizational unit in the TPG tree.

NDS can support as many as 16 different bindery contexts at once, which can be useful if you’ve located your servers in several different organizational units. To set multiple contexts, type set bindery context = ndscontext1; ndscontext2;ndscontext3. Make sure you separate each bindery context with a semicolon (;) and include the full NDS context from the root of the NDS tree.

Changing the bindery context in Monitor
You can also use the NetWare Monitor to change the bindery context. To use Monitor, type load monitor at the server console and press [Enter]. When Monitor starts, select Server Parameters from the Available Options menu.

When the Select A Parameter Category menu appears, highlight Directory Services and press [Enter]. The Directory Services Parameter menu will appear. Now, highlight the Bindery Context field and press [Enter]. You can then enter the new bindery context values. Don’t use the set bindery context syntax. Just enter the context values (ndscontext1;ndscontext2;ndscontext3) in the Bindery Context box, separating each context with a semicolon. When you press [Esc] to exit, Monitor will ask if you want to save changes. Select Yes and press [Enter], and your new values will be set.

Not all network clients can access NDS. These clients instead prefer to connect to your server using NetWare’s old-fashioned bindery connections. By making some modifications to bindery emulation, you can ensure that these clients can always find the NetWare resources they need.