Just as your name distinguishes you from other people, your network components, such as servers, trees, and NDS objects, have names that allow NDS to tell one component from another. As you may already know, you assign these names when you install NetWare or NDS on your network, or when you create NDS objects. You may use meaningful names that represent your company’s name, division, or department such as CORPHQFS1 for the first file server at corporate headquarters. You may also be like some of us at TechRepublic—we’ve named our servers after favorite cartoon characters, mythical beings, and pets.

What do you do if you have to change the name of your NDS tree or server after you’ve created it? Perhaps your company reorganizes or merges with another company after you’ve developed the naming structure for your network (if you have one). You may get a new manager who thinks that server names such as Pinky and Brain aren’t appropriate for your organization. What do you do? Do you have to start from scratch and reinstall the software? Nope. In this drill down, we’ll show you how to rename your NDS tree, NetWare servers, and objects in your NDS tree.

Renaming your NDS tree
Your NDS tree contains every object on your network. These objects represent such items as servers, printers, users, and groups. You assign the name for your NDS tree when you install the first NetWare 4.x or 5.0 server on your network.

Although your company can have multiple NDS trees on the same network, each NDS tree must have a unique name. If your company has several remote locations that aren’t connected via a WAN (wide area network), you can use the same NDS tree name. However, as soon as you try to connect those remote locations with a WAN, you’ll have NDS errors because of non-unique tree names. In that case, you must change the name of one of the trees.

Likewise, when you try to merge NDS trees, both the source and the target tree names must be different. And, as we mentioned, you may be forced to change your NDS tree name to reflect a corporate merger, reorganization, or divestiture.

Renaming your NDS tree is a reasonably simple process. Unlike Windows NT 4.0 domains where you must completely reinstall the operating system if you want to change a domain name, NetWare allows you to change an NDS tree name using basic NetWare utilities. You can rename your NDS tree by using the DSMERGE utility.


Be very careful when using DSMERGE. DSMERGE can irreparably damage your NDS tree if you use it improperly. A damaged NDS tree may cause you to lose information about user and object rights and even lock you out of your network. Before you use DSMERGE or any utility that affects the NDS tree or other network operating system components, perform a full backup of your network, taking extra precautions to make sure you get a full copy of your NDS tree.

You must run DSMERGE from the server that contains the Master replica of the [Root] partition of your NDS tree. If you don’t know which server contains the Master replica, you can find it by running NDS Manager. To do so, run NDSMGR32 from the Public\WIN32 folder on your server.

When NDS Manager appears, change the context in the left pane of the NDS Manager window to the [Root] of your NDS tree. In the right pane, you’ll see all of the servers in your NDS tree. The server with the Master Replica has an icon labeled Master, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
To rename your NDS tree, you must first find the server that contains the Master replica using NDS Manager.

Now that you’ve found the server containing the Master replica of the NDS tree, you’re ready to begin. You can either run DSMERGE from that server’s console or by using RConsole. To start DSMERGE, type
load dsmerge
and press [Enter]. When you do, you’ll see the Available Options menu appear. To rename the tree, highlight Rename This Tree as shown in Figure B and press [Enter]. You’ll then see the Rename Tree Information screen as shown in Figure C.

Figure B
When DSMERGE starts, highlight Rename This Tree and press [Enter].

Figure C
Enter the new tree name in the New Tree Name field, after providing the proper Administrator Name and Password.

In this window, you’ll enter the information necessary to rename your NDS tree. The Local Tree field automatically contains the current name of your NDS tree. You must type the fully distinguished name of your Admin user in the Administrator Name field. Then, press [Tab] and provide your Admin password. Finally, press [Tab] again and enter the new name for your NDS tree. Once you’ve entered all of the information, press [F10] to begin the renaming process.

Before the renaming process begins, a warning message will appear. This message informs you that you may need to make changes to your workstations and that you can’t have duplicate NDS tree names on your network. Press [Enter] to clear the message and continue.

DSMERGE will then prompt you to begin renaming the tree. This is your last chance to abort the renaming process. Select No to abort the renaming process. Highlight Yes and press [Enter] to rename your tree.

After you select Yes, DSMERGE will rename the tree. The amount of time it will take to complete this process will vary, depending on the size of your NDS tree, the speed of your servers, and the speed of your network. If you have multiple servers in your tree, the name change will replicate throughout your network. If you have many servers spread out across slow WAN links, the process may take several days. In this case, you may want to plan to perform the renaming process over a weekend or long holiday.

Changing your NDS tree name will probably impact workstations and printers on your network. You’ll need to make changes on your workstations to point to the new tree name. On Windows 9x and NT workstations, you must change the Preferred Tree property of the Novell NetWare Client in Network Neighborhood to reflect the new server name, as shown in Figure D. On MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and OS/2 workstations, you’ll need to change the Preferred Tree line in the workstation’s NET.CFG file. Finally, you may need to make changes in your network scripts.

Figure D
After changing your NDS tree name, you must change the Preferred Tree property on your workstations.

Renaming NetWare servers
Changing your server’s name is a little more complex than changing NDS tree names. There’s no one simple utility you can use to rename your NetWare server. Instead, you must first check some things on your NDS tree and then manually edit your server’s AUTOEXEC.NCF file.

Editor’s Note

Because NetWare 3.x servers don’t use NDS or any other directory service, renaming them is much easier than it is with NetWare 4.x or 5.0 servers. You don’t have concern yourself with NDS tools, objects, or any of the things that you had to worry about when renaming NDS objects in NetWare 4.x or 5.0. If you’re using a NetWare 3.x server, you can skip the following NDS instructions and go directly to the part about editing AUTOEXEC.NCF.

Because NetWare 4.x and 5.0 servers belong to an NDS tree which extends to multiple servers across your network, before you change a server’s name, you must first check to make sure NDS works properly and that your server can communicate with other servers in the tree. You can do so by using the DSREPAIR utility.


Like DSMERGE, DSREPAIR can do irreparable damage to your NDS tree if used improperly. As always, make sure you carefully follow the directions below. And, remember to make sure you have a full backup of your server before changing the name of your server or doing any other operation that impacts your core network operating system.

Naturally, you must run DSREPAIR on the server you want to rename. Like the DSMERGE utility discussed above, you can either run DSREPAIR at the server’s console or from your workstation using RConsole. To start DSREPAIR, type
load dsrepair
at your server console and press [Enter]. When you do, you’ll see DSREPAIR’s Available Options menu appear, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E
Before changing a server’s name, you must check NDS communication by using DSREPAIR.

Select Time Synchronization and press [Enter]. DSREPAIR checks all of the servers in your NDS tree and displays the log file shown in Figure F. It will report each server’s current NDS version as well as its current time and any communication problems. You shouldn’t see any errors in the log. If you do see errors—especially 625 Communication errors—you should fix them before proceeding. Otherwise, you can continue renaming your server.

Figure F
DSREPAIR displays a log file you can check to find NDS communication problems.

Next, you must check to make sure there are no other objects in your NDS tree that currently use the name you want to use on your server. To do so, load NetWare Administrator on your administration workstation. Look through your NDS tree to make sure the name you want to use for your server isn’t already taken. Don’t check only the names of other server objects. The new name can’t match any other object already in your tree, including users, print servers, and groups.

After you’ve checked to make sure your new server name is unique, you can rename your server. Unlike other objects in your NDS tree, you can’t rename servers using NetWare Administrator. If you select the Object menu in NetWare Administrator, you’ll notice that the Rename choice is unavailable. Instead, you must manually edit the server’s AUTOEXEC.NCF file.

Editing the AUTOEXEC.NCF file
Like the other commands we’ve discussed so far, you can edit the AUTOEXEC.NCF file from the server’s console or by using RConsole. To edit the file, type
load edit autoexec.ncf
and press [Enter].


This is another place where you must be very careful. If you accidentally change or delete a line, your server may not start properly, if at all, after you reboot it.

When the AUTOEXEC.NCF file loads in the Edit window, scroll down until you see the File Server Name line, as shown in Figure G. You’ll see your current server’s name at the end of the File Server Name line. Change the name at the end of this line to whatever you want to name your server. Next, press [Esc] to quit EDIT.NLM. Highlight Yes and press [Enter] to save your changes.

Figure G
To change your server’s name, edit the File Server Name line in AUTOEXEC.NCF.

After you’ve made the changes in AUTOEXEC.NCF, you must shut down and restart your server. When your server restarts, you’ll see the new name at your server console prompt.

NetWare 3.x administrators relax

If you still run NetWare 3.x on your network and change the name of your server, kick back and relax for a bit. You’re basically finished. The only thing you must do at this point is set the Preferred Server property for your workstation’s client to reflect the new server’s name. Don’t forget to check your logon scripts to see if you must also make changes there.

Your server’s new name may take some time to replicate across your network. As with the NDS tree renaming procedure, the time for the replication to complete will vary from network to network. Make sure your NDS tree has completely updated all of the servers before proceeding.

Also, as with renaming your NDS tree, you’ll need to make a few other changes to your network when you rename your server. You must change any references to the server’s old name in your system log on scripts. Likewise, you’ll need to change the Preferred Server references on your workstations. On Windows 9x and NT workstations, this is on the same page of the Novell Client Properties page as we showed you in Figure D. On MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and OS/2 workstations, you must modify the Preferred Server line in NET.CFG.

After you make those changes, you’re finished—mostly. Unfortunately, because you can’t change the name of the server in NetWare Administrator or NDS, the names of your server volumes represented in NDS don’t change either. You must manually change the names of your server’s volumes in NetWare Administrator. Fortunately, we’re going to show you how to change NDS object names!

Changing object names in NetWare Administrator
Of all the name changing procedures, making changes to object names in NDS is by far the easiest. That’s because you do so using one GUI utility from the comfort of your administration workstation.

To change an NDS object’s name, start NetWare Administrator on your workstation. First, select the object in your NDS tree that you want to rename. Because we just renamed our server, let’s rename the server’s associated volumes. For this example, find and select the volume that contains the old name of your server.

Next, click Object and select Rename. You’ll then see the Rename dialog box, as shown in Figure H. Type the new name of the volume in the New Name field.

Figure H
You can rename NDS objects using NetWare Administrator.

If you select the Save Old Name checkbox, NDS preserves the current name as an Other Name property in NDS. This can be useful if you want to be able to search for the object using its old name. Don’t select the Create Alias In Place Of Renamed Container check box. This check box is only for use by container objects. After you’ve changed the name of the object, click the OK button. NetWare Administrator then saves the new name in NDS.

You can rename any other NDS object the same way. Changing the name of most objects in NDS doesn’t usually require you to do anything else on your server. However, an exception to this rule can occur if you change the name of an NDS organization or organizational unit. In this case, you may also need to change the Bindery Context of your server. The Bindery Context allows non-NDS-aware clients, such as print servers, to connect to your network. If you change an Organization or Organizational Unit object’s name, you’ll have to change the Set Bindery Context line in your server’s STARTUP.NCF file.

Likewise, if you change the name of a print server, printer queue, or printer object, you may need to make changes at both your server and workstations. You’ll need to redirect your workstations to the new printer’s name. On your server, you’ll need to unload and reload your print server with the proper server, queue, and printer names.

Just as they are in real life, names on your network are important. They represent network resources and help your users locate and access the resources they need. Sometimes you’re forced to change your NDS tree, server, or object names after you’ve created them. Although this task can be tedious, it’s not impossible. In this drill down, we’ve showed you how to change names on your Novell network.