ZENworks represents Novell’s vision for managing every aspect of your network. The complete line of products includes ZENworks for Desktops, Networks, and Servers. All three products build on the foundation of Novell Directory Services (NDS), now called eDirectory, as the repository for any information related to the network.

In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll walk you through the process of planning and then installing ZENworks for Servers (ZfS). It’s a good idea to step back and look at what ZfS will allow you to do and to think about how you’ll configure it for your network. A little planning up front will save some time and effort down the line.

First, I’ll give you an overview of what ZfS is and the types of networks that receive the most benefit from it. Then, I’ll walk you through the installation and configuration process. Finally, I’ll cover all the post-installation tasks that you must complete before you’ll be able to use ZfS.

ZfS overview
Novell describes ZfS as “a distribution, software, configuration, and behavioral management system for servers.” What this really means is that ZfS gives the average NetWare administrator a way to configure and manage many servers from a central location.

ZfS uses two separate pieces to accomplish its task. The server policies function makes it possible to control all server configurations from one location. Policies include things like NetWare SET commands, shutdown procedures, and scheduled activities. To make the whole process as simple as possible, Novell recommends that you create a “golden” server, configured just the way you want the other servers to be configured, and use it as a template for the rest.

The second piece of the ZfS puzzle is the Tiered Electronic Distribution (TED) utility. The TED uses a multi-level distribution scheme to propagate software packages across the network. Each server must be designated as a subscriber, a distributor, or both. There’s also a provision for proxy servers to act as a staging point for distributions across a wide area network (WAN).

You would think that ZfS would benefit only organizations with a really large, geographically dispersed network. On the contrary, Novell suggests that ZfS will pay for itself on any network with more than seven local servers or any number of servers spread across three or more different sites.

Making a plan
One of the most important steps to take before beginning your ZfS installation is to plan out exactly how you will implement the distribution structure. TED will use multiple levels to reduce the amount of traffic on the network caused by software distribution packages being moved around. You must decide beforehand which servers will be distributors and which ones will be subscribers only.

Note: The installation manual suggests that you “carefully choose where in NDS you place your proxy objects.” This is important because you don’t assign servers to a specific proxy. Instead, each subscriber negotiates its closest proxy based on NDS structure.

Pages 98-100 of the manual describe how ZfS accomplishes proxy negotiation. There’s an updated version of the ZfS Administration Guide available on Novell’s Web site. It includes a setup worksheet to help you plan out your installation.

For really large NDS trees, I recommend that you create a ZENworks container at the root of the tree to contain all the ZENworks objects. This method has both good points and bad points, so it’s probably wise to read through this section of the manual to determine if this is the best plan for your site.

ZfS installation
You start the ZfS installation from your administrative workstation. An installation menu starts automatically after you load the ZfS CD-ROM. Three options allow you to either install ZfS, view the product guides, or browse the contents of the CD-ROM. Besides reading through the product guides, you should check out the README.TXT file for any last minute information that didn’t make it into the documentation.

Server requirements include the following:

  • NetWare 4.x or 5.x
  • Service Pack 8a for NetWare 4.x, including Winsock files
  • Service Pack 4 for NetWare 5.0
  • 135 MB free disk space
  • 128 MB RAM on NetWare 5.x servers
  • 128 MB free RAM on NetWare 4.x servers (because there is no virtual memory)
  • Correct Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and Novell Java Class Libraries (NJCL), included on the ZENworks for Servers CD-ROM
  • IP stack loaded
  • Long name space loaded on NetWare 4.x server volumes

The management workstation must have the following:

  • NetWare 5 Client 32 with Service Pack 2
  • ConsoleOne 1.2c, which requires a Pentium 200 or greater machine with 128 MB RAM
  • 46 MB of disk space for ConsoleOne installation
  • Windows NT workstation (recommended)

The README.TXT file lists a number of known issues for the current version of ZfS. One of the most important problems addressed in the README concerns the ZfS installation and the JVM version running on your server. The JVM installation might take over 30 minutes to complete. The README file lists a number of ways to work around the problem. One of the easiest ways to avoid the problem for NetWare 5.x servers is to install the very latest support packs, (currently Support Pack 1 for NetWare 5.1 and Support Pack 5 for NetWare 5.0) prior to installing ZfS.

Starting the installation
Before you begin installing ZENworks for Servers on your network, you should unload Java on your NetWare 5.x servers. To do so, type JAVA –EXIT at your server’s console.

Then, you’re ready to begin installing ZfS on your servers from your administrative workstation. To do this, select the Install ZENworks For Servers option from the splash screen. Novell recommends that you do the first installation on a small network of three servers to get familiar with the process before you attempt to load it on a production network.

The first screen warns you to exit all Windows programs before proceeding with the install, and the second screen asks if you agree to the software license agreement. The next screen, shown in Figure A, gives you two options: Express and Custom. Use Express to install the program with the most common options. If you select Custom, you may choose the options you wish to install. The administration manual recommends that you select the Express option for your first installation in a test environment. For this discussion, however, I’ll assume that you’ve selected the Custom route.

Figure A
Select the type of installation you want to use.

Once you’ve selected the type of installation to perform, you’ll be prompted to select an NDS tree to install into. At this point, you’ll see a screen allowing you to select the components you want to install. All the options are selected by default, except the Database check box. You’ll need to select this box the first time around. If you have installed the very latest service packs, you can deselect the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and NJCL (Novell Java Class Libraries) check boxes, since you already have the most current version installed. Click Next to proceed.

Now, you will see a screen that lets you select which parts of the installation process to perform—NDS schema extensions and copying the ZfS program files. The NDS schema extensions need to be performed only the first time around. If you run the installation program and forget to deselect that box, it won’t hurt anything, but it will give you an error message.

Selecting the correct options
The next series of screens prompts you to select the different roles that each server will play and which parts of ZfS will be loaded on those servers. Novell has made the installation very straightforward.

The first screen in this group asks you to select the servers that will receive the policy packages. If you want ZfS to be able to control a server’s configuration for such things as NetWare SET commands and procedures for downing the server, you’ll need to select the check box next to each server listed on this screen.

On the second screen, you’ll select which servers will act as distributors. If you were doing the simple three-server install, then you would select just the first server. Otherwise, refer back to the plan that you created before starting the installation process. The following screen asks you to select the server that will function as a proxy. Again, refer back to your plan. Finally, you’re asked to select the servers that will function as subscribers. Now, you’ll be prompted to select the servers and/or the local machine that will have ConsoleOne installed. Then, you’ll need to select the servers that will receive the JVM and NJCL files. At this point, you must select which server will house the ZENworks database. Once you’ve chosen the desired server, you must select which volume on that server will be used. The screen warns you that “Volume SYS is not recommended,” so you’ll want to select a different volume to host the database.

After you’ve made your selections, you should see a summary screen of all your selected options. Clicking Next at this point will start the installation process. The total amount of time to finish the installation will depend on the number of servers selected for the component installation. However, it shouldn’t take more than five to 10 minutes for the simple three-server, test-network installation to finish.

Automation is the key
Novell recommends using a response file to automate subsequent installations. The administration manual includes a sample response file that you may edit for your particular configuration. Since the release of the product, Novell has published a document that you can download from their Cool Solutions Web site that describes how to use a response file. There, you can also download a Response Wizard that will automate the process of creating a response file.

To use the Response Wizard, you must unzip the file and save it in the local ConsoleOne directory, typically C:\Novell\ConsoleOne\1.2. You’ll see a new icon on the ConsoleOne toolbar the next time you run the program. The Response Wizard will allow you to select the container in which to create a distributor object and will even add new distribution channels and subscriptions for you.

Post-installation tasks
Assuming the installation process completes without errors, you must perform several post-installation tasks prior to loading the ZfS components on each server. The first task is to create a ZfS policy package. To do this, you need to run ConsoleOne, which was loaded by the ZfS installation procedure. You’ll now use ConsoleOne to set up and configure everything.

Creating a ZfS policy package
Creating a ZfS policy package consists of creating a new policy object in the primary container. If you chose to create a ZENworks container to house all your policies, then create a new policy object in this container. To create the policy, select the container by clicking on it in the left-hand pane of ConsoleOne. Then, right-click the container and select New | Policy Package from the resulting menu.

When the Policy Package Wizard appears, select Server Package and click Next. At this point, you can name the package, and then click Next to open the final screen which contains two option boxes: Define Additional Properties and Create Another Policy Package. You must also change some properties of this new package. The quickest way to do this is to select the Define Additional Properties check box and then click Finish.

Figure B shows the resulting properties box. You have two final tasks: First, on the General tab you need to select the Enabled check box for the ZENworks For Servers policy. Second, you must select the ZENworks For Servers policy line on the same tab and click the Properties button. This opens another tabbed page where you must select the ZENworks For Servers tab. This tab allows you to change the Console Prompt that will appear on the console of the server running ZfS. The default will be server name – ZfS>, where server name represents the name of your server. Add a valid path in the Working Path box for the Server policies’ and TED components’ temporary and backup files. Then, click Apply and Close.

Figure B
You can change some of the properties for your ZfS policy package.

The last task for creating this policy is to set up the proper associations between this policy and the servers to which it will apply. To do so, select the Associations tab and then click the Add button. You must now select each container that has servers running the ZfS Java processes from the NDS tree. Once that’s completed, you’re finished with this policy package.

Defining a Search policy
A Search policy determines how a tree is read to find effective policies. The procedure for creating a Search policy is very similar to the procedure you followed to create a ZfS policy package. To create a new policy, you again select the appropriate container in the left-hand window of ConsoleOne. Then, right-click and select New | Policy Package to open the Policy Package Wizard. This time, however, select Container Package and click Next to continue. Select the Define Additional Properties check box and click Finish.

In the resulting properties box, select the Enabled check box on the General tab to enable the Search policy. At this point, you select the Search Policy line and click Properties to display its properties. This is where you’ll determine the levels of the directory that you want ZfS to search for policies. Options include Root, Object Container, Partition, and Selected Container. There’s also a box that lets you set the depth of the search. Entering a value of positive 1 allows you to search one level up and entering a minus 1 allows you to search one level down. ZfS will search up to 25 levels in either direction.

The last task for this policy is to set up associations as you did for the previous policy. This is done by selecting the Associations tab, and then adding the containers with servers running ZfS Java processes.

Creating a ZENworks Database policy
The last policy you must create determines the location of the database for logging reporting information. The Administration Manual outlines two separate methods. Which method you’ll use will depend on the structure of your NDS tree. The two methods are very similar so I’ll walk you through an example for a geographically based tree.

Again, you’ll need to create a new policy package using ConsoleOne. This time you’ll create a Service Location Package and select the Enabled check box for the ZENworks Database policy. Next, select the ZENworks Database policy line and click Properties. Then, select the ZENworks Database object from the tree that you created during the install process, and establish the associations like you did for the other two policies.

Setting up a schedule
The final post-installation task is to set up a schedule for all the ZfS objects that operate on a time basis. First, you must establish a schedule for TED objects. To do this, right-click the Distributor object and select the Schedules tab. The administration manual strongly recommends that you select the same days for both the Distributor and Subscriber objects, since they must overlap. If a distributor server is not available during a subscriber’s schedule, the distributions will never be sent.

Options for the schedule type include Always, Daily, Monthly, Yearly, and Never. Most of the time, you’ll select Daily, and then select several days during the week. You must also pick a start and end time for when the Distributor will be active. Notice that the default for both the start and end time is 00:00 (or midnight). If you don’t change the end time the distribution will be available all the time. If you created any proxies during installation you’ll need to schedule the Proxy object in the same way.

You also have to schedule the Subscriber and Subscription objects. Subscriber schedules should overlap the Distributor schedule, although you could just accept the default for all Subscribers, meaning they would be available all the time. For the initial installation, you won’t have any Subscription objects yet, so when you create one, you’ll have to set a schedule.

Wrapping up
While it might seem like a lot of work to get ZfS up and running, once you get it set up correctly, the rest should be smooth sailing. Version 1 of ZfS does not have the same snapshot capability that ZENworks for Desktop offers for creating software distribution packages. Novell promises more functionality for ZfS in its next release, which is due out by the end of this year. Until then, you’ll have to build your software distributions by hand. Be sure to check out the Novell Cool Solutions site that I mentioned earlier for examples of packages for things like distributing antivirus updates or server patches.

Paul Ferrill is a principal engineer for Avionics Test and Analysis Corp. at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. He has a BS and MS in electrical engineering and has been writing in the computer trade press for over 15 years. Paul has been using and writing about NetWare since Novell shipped version 2.2. He can be reached at pferrill@fwb.gulf.net.

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.