Even though Windows XP is fresh out of the oven, most network administrators have decided not to move to Windows XP right away. However, with Microsoft’s control over the OEM market, as you buy new PCs, you’ll eventually have to deal with deploying Windows XP on your network and connecting it to your NetWare servers. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll show you what’s involved.

Author’s note

For the purposes of this Daily Drill Down, I’ll focus on connecting Windows XP Professional in a NetWare 4.x/5.x environment. Microsoft does offer another version of XP called Windows XP Home, but you probably won’t be seeing that in your organization. For now, I’ll be using Windows XP Professional Release Candidate 2 (Build 2526). By the time you read this, however, the final version of Windows XP should be shipping. From a features standpoint, nothing will change between the shipping version of Windows XP and the Release Candidate. I’ll also discuss adding NetWare support to your Windows XP client after installation instead of during the installation process.

Client options for making the connection
Windows XP is based on the Windows 2000 code base, which is, in turn, based on the Windows NT code base. That’s good news for NetWare administrators, because both earlier versions of Windows behave well as clients on a NetWare network. If you’ve ever installed Windows 2000 Professional or Windows NT Workstation on your NetWare network, you know there are two ways to go about making the connection: use either Microsoft’s client or Novell’s client.

For now, your options have been reduced to one. As of this Daily Drill Down, Novell hasn’t provided a version of the Novell client supporting Windows XP Professional. The current version, 4.81, only supports Windows NT and Windows 2000 Professional. I’ve read reports on the Internet of people successfully installing NetWare Client 4.8 on their XP workstations and making connections to NetWare servers only to encounter problems with applications later. On our test network, I’ve also successfully connected NetWare Client 4.8 to our NetWare servers. However, in a production environment, it’s probably not a wise thing to do. When Novell does ship a version of the client that supports Windows XP, TechProGuild will offer a Daily Drill Down showing you how to install it and what it will do.

So for the time being, you’re stuck with Microsoft’s Client Service For NetWare. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Novell’s clients have a reputation of being resource hogs and sometimes introducing new problems to a workstation. At the same time, however, Microsoft’s Client Service For NetWare doesn’t give you all of the capabilities of Novell’s native client.

Configuring Microsoft’s client
Configuring Microsoft’s client is very easy. Boot your Windows XP workstation and log in as administrator. Click Start and then right-click My Network Places. Next, select Properties. When the Network Connections window appears, right-click Local Area Connection and select Properties. You’ll then see the Local Area Connections Properties screen.

Click Install. When the Select Network Component Type window appears, select Client and click Add. You’ll then see the Select Network Client window. Your only choice here will be Client Service For NetWare. Select it and click OK. After Windows XP copies the files, it will return to the Local Area Connections Properties screen. Click Close. Windows XP will prompt you to reboot your workstation. You’ll need to do so to make the client work.

When the workstation restarts, you’ll log in; however, the first time you do, you’ll see the Select NetWare Login screen shown in Figure A. There, you can configure how your Windows XP workstation will log in to your NetWare servers. You have two choices. You can either specify a preferred server or a preferred tree.

Figure A
You must tell XP how you want to connect to your NetWare server.

You can choose a preferred server by selecting the Preferred Server radio button and then choosing the server you want from the drop-down list. If you connect to your NetWare network this way, you’ll connect in bindery mode to one server only. To access resources on other NetWare servers, you’ll need to connect to them individually.

If you want to log in to the NDS tree, you should click the Default Tree And Context radio button. You’ll then need to type the NDS tree name in the Tree field and the NDS context in the Context field. Finally, you can force login scripts to run from your server by selecting the Run Login Script check box.

If you click Cancel, this screen will appear every time you log in to the network. Likewise, if you log in using a user ID that is valid on the XP workstation but not valid on the NDS tree, such as Administrator, you’ll get an error when connecting to the server. If you use a valid account and complete the information, you shouldn’t see this screen again.

Connecting to NetWare resources
After you log in, you’re ready to start using the resources on your NetWare server. For the most part, mapping drives and printers using the Client Service For NetWare works the same way as when you map resources to NT/2000 servers using the Microsoft Client. However, the way you go about connecting to NetWare resources is a bit different.

To view shared resources on your NetWare servers, click Start | My Network Places. Click the Entire Network link in the Other Places box. You’ll then see two icons: Microsoft Windows Network and NetWare Or Compatible Network. Double-click NetWare Or Compatible Network.

You’ll then see all of your NetWare servers and your NDS tree on the NetWare Or Compatible Network screen that appears. If you right-click one of the servers or the NDS tree icon and select WhoAmI, you can view the user name with which you’ve logged in to the server, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
You can check to see how you’ve logged in to your NetWare network.

Don’t be surprised if XP reports that you’re not logged in, even if it’s a server you commonly use. This can occur when you’ve logged in to the NDS tree rather than directly in to a NetWare server in bindery mode.

You can log in to individual servers in bindery mode by double-clicking the server and entering a user ID and password. If you’ve logged in to the NDS tree rather than to a preferred server, double-clicking the server icon will take you directly to the server’s resources.

If you want to view all of the resources on your NetWare network, double-click the Tree icon. You’ll then see an NDS Organizational Unit (OU) icon. Double-click it, and you’ll see the available resources in that OU. Shared volumes appear with a shared folder icon, servers, and printers. From there, you can double-click servers to view all of the volumes on the server, map drives from the shared folders, or connect to network printers. To see what you can do with each resource, just right-click it and view the resulting context menu. For example, if you want to map a NetWare volume as a drive letter, right-click the NetWare volume icon you want to map and select Map Network Drive. Select the drive letter you want to map, click Finish, and you’re done!

Hey! There’s stuff missing!
As you look through the list of available resources, you may notice there are things missing, such as NDPS printers. Many NDS-based services won’t be available to you when you use the Client Service For NetWare. That’s because even though Client Service For NetWare supports NDS, it doesn’t support some of the new features included in NetWare 5.x, including NDPS.

The Client Service For NetWare also has another key limitation: It doesn’t support NetWare servers running in an IP-Only configuration. So, if you’re running IP-Only servers, you won’t see any of them in the resource list. It won’t even work with IP-Only servers running SCMD, NetWare 5’s IPX Compatibility module. For Client Service For NetWare to talk to a NetWare server, the server must be running pure IPX.

In addition to the lack of IP-Only and NDPS support, the Client Service For NetWare also doesn’t support ZENworks. Therefore, if you’re using ZENworks for application distribution, remote control, or end-user policy implementation, you’re out of luck.

As of now, connecting your Windows XP workstations to your NetWare servers leaves you with very limited options. Although Microsoft’s Client Service For NetWare gives basic connectivity to shared drives and older queue-based networked printers, it doesn’t give you the full range of features as would a Novell client. When Novell does ship the Novell Client For Windows XP, you’ll be in much better shape.