The bar that measures network operating systems has been raised. In an effort to become a major player in the Internet world, Novell has retooled the venerable NetWare operating system. NetWare 5.1 includes a veritable smorgasbord of Web-based management, development, and back-office products. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll take an in-depth look at the many fresh, new features of NetWare 5.1.

NetWare 5.1 hardware requirements
The leap forward in functionality does not come without a price. NetWare 5.1 has massive server requirements, which might be the one drawback to the operating system. However, try not to let the requirements scare you away. After all, if you’re building enterprise class applications, you should expect to build an enterprise class server to support them. Also, putting things into perspective, NetWare 5.1’s system requirements don’t far exceed that of its main rival, Windows 2000 Server.

Here are the minimum hardware requirements for NetWare 5.1, as well as some recommendations that you should consider:

  • A Pentium processor (although you’ll probably want a fast Pentium III).
  • A VGA monitor (Novell recommends you have an SVGA video card).
  • 50 MB DOS partition with 35 MB available. (You must create a DOS partition that exceeds the amount of RAM in the server by 50 MB and has at least 35 MB available beyond that.)
  • 750 MB of free disk space on the SYS volume for the standard NetWare 5.1 products.
  • 750 MB of additional free disk space if you install the IBM WebSphere Application Server.
  • 128 MB of RAM for the standard NetWare 5.1 products (Novell recommends at least 256 MB for better performance).
  • 128 MB of additional RAM if you install the IBM WebSphere Application Server (512 MB of additional RAM is recommended for this product).
  • 128 MB of additional RAM if you install the Oracle8i Data Server (256 MB additional RAM is recommended for this product).

NetWare Web Manager
The variety of new features in NetWare 5.1 means a great deal of complexity has been added to the operating system. To help ease the administration burden, Novell has created a great new tool called NetWare Web Manager. You can use this Web-based utility to configure and manage the various Web servers included in NetWare 5.1. In addition, Web Manager can be used to manage the NDS tree and all other NetWare servers on the network. Figure A provides you with a view of the NetWare Web Manager main screen.

Figure A
You can now configure and manage parts of NetWare 5.1 with Web Manager.

You will find that navigation in Web Manager is straightforward and easy. The home page shown in Figure A lists all of the Web servers that are currently installed, as well as links to the NDS management and NetWare Management Portal tools. Each server has On and Off icons, as well as an icon listing the file server where the software is installed. When the server is running, the On icon will be lighted, and when the server is stopped, the Off icon will be lighted. Clicking these buttons allows you to easily stop and start the server. You can reach the file server configuration pages by clicking the button with the name of the file server.

Because Web Manager is browser based, you have the ability to manage the network from virtually anywhere, regardless of the client software that’s running on the machine. While all of the functionality in Web Manager is provided in other tools—such as NetWare Administrator and Console One—the ability to use one utility to access and manage resources remotely is a great improvement. If you are a traveling administrator, you’ll love this suite of management tools.

The NetWare Management Portal
One of the handiest additions to NetWare 5.1 is the browser-based NetWare Management Portal. From this utility, you can manage volumes, file servers, applications, and NLMs that reside on the server. In addition, the Management Portal includes file server health monitors, remote server access, and hardware management utilities. Once again, since this tool is Web-based, you’ll be able to perform all of these functions from virtually any computer on the network. Figure B shows the main page of the Management Portal.

Figure B
The NetWare Management Portal is a new Web-based tool to help you administer your network.

You can access the Management Portal either by clicking on the server icon in NetWare Web Manager or by providing the correct URL and port number to the browser. An example of the URL would be Once in the Management Portal, you can select the desired function from the pane on the left of the screen and then work with the easy-to-navigate screens that follow.

NetWare Web Manager and the Management Portal provide you with unparalleled functionality and versatility. Many of the management capabilities found in NetWare Administrator, NDS Manager, RConsole, and other third-party management packages are now just a few mouse clicks away.

NetWare Enterprise Web Server
Based on Netscape Enterprise Web Server, NetWare Enterprise Web Server is a stable and mature product, not merely an upgrade to the old Novell Web server. The application is integrated tightly with NDS and will provide your organization with a solid Web server that can be used for hosting very large sites or many different sites.

While the Enterprise Web Server may not be as popular as other Web server products on the market today, it has some outstanding features that might make you take a second look. One such feature allows users to access Web documents that are located on remote servers. This ability will enable your users to create and access Web documents that are stored on any server in the network. In a similar vein, you can create a PUBLIC_HTML directory in each user’s home directory, providing your users with the ability to create their own Web documents or home pages.

Another nice feature of Enterprise Web Server is support for Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV). WebDAV allows users to work on documents from virtually anyplace on the network, using applications such as Office 2000 or Internet Explorer 5.0. Through the My Network Web folder, users can access their home directory, mapped drives, and NDS folders, as well as manage their own NDS user object and access other resources available on the network.

While these features may not be revolutionary, they are a nice addition to this product and will provide your users with a straightforward method of accessing their documents and files.

NDS eDirectory
NDS is the heart of the NetWare OS, and over the years NDS has become a very stable and robust product. NDS 8, called the eDirectory, provides the same basic features as before, but it also includes LDAP support, improved administration utilities, and enhancements in performance and scalability.

Previous versions of NDS were based on a fixed-length database model, but the eDirectory has been rewritten and is now an indexed database. Novell has demonstrated the speed and capabilities of the new design by creating an eDirectory containing 1 billion objects that performs very efficiently. As unrealistic as this marketing ploy may be, it does prove that the new structure of the database will manage a large directory in a quick and nimble manner.

Another highly touted feature of the eDirectory is scalability. It can be installed natively on Linux, Solaris, Windows 2000, and Windows NT platforms, with no NetWare required. This unique ability sets the eDirectory apart from all other rivals and makes it a true enterprise directory.

IBM WebSphere Application Server
To achieve status as a major player in e-commerce, Novell has bundled the IBM WebSphere Application Server with NetWare 5.1 to provide a strong platform for building enterprise-level Web applications. Focused on Java, WebSphere supports Java servlets, Java server pages, XML, and Enterprise JavaBeans.

Also included in the software bundle are two development tools. WebSphere Studio 3.0 Entry Edition is an excellent tool for developing Web content. It has a good visual interface and provides Web developers with an array of options for creating Web applications and HTML documents, as well as helpful wizards for those of us who are not Webmasters by trade. VisualAge for Java Enterprise Edition gives application programmers a complete Java environment for developing Web-based applications.

As noted earlier, the hardware requirements for the WebSphere Application Server and its bundled components are quite steep. Your server will need at least 750 MB of free disk space, and at least 512 MB of additional RAM for this product to run.

The Oracle8i database
Every package of NetWare 5.1 includes a five-user licensed version of the Oracle8i database. This industry-leading database is a powerful platform that will help you simplify enterprise network management and create robust database and Internet applications. In addition, Oracle’s Java support will enable many applications to be moved over to the NetWare platform with very little modification.

The tight integration with NDS facilitates the creation of large databases that will be both scalable and efficient. NDS integration will also let users authenticate transparently to any Oracle server on the network.

Combining NetWare 5.1 and Oracle8i provides a reliable, robust, and scalable infrastructure to a business of any size. It is difficult to imagine a company outgrowing these shrewdly bundled platforms.

Other Web-based products included with NetWare 5.1
NetWare FTP Server will allow your users to easily transfer files over the Internet or intranet. This simple application can be configured and managed with only moderate effort. One nice feature of FTP Server is the ability to use NDS to manage access to files.

NetWare News Server will provide newsgroup functionality to your Internet infrastructure. The application is easy to configure, and being integrated with NDS, it enables you to create newsgroups for individual departments of your organization.

As network throughput improves, NetWare MultiMedia Server will use Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) to send multimedia content to the desktop. An excellent feature provided by MultiMedia Server is Adaptive Quality of Service (QoS), which attempts to minimize the effects of network congestion on the multimedia files being played from the server. The product currently supports WAV, MP3, and RM file formats.

The final piece of the Web product puzzle is NetWare Web Search Server. While Web Search Server is not an exciting new product, it will provide basic search capabilities without causing you too many headaches.

NetWare 5.1 pricing
The base price for NetWare 5.1 Server plus five connections is $1,345. An upgrade version with five connections will run you $715. Additive license packages are available:

Base cost
Upgrade package
5-connection additive license $995 $530
10-connection additive license $1,430 $760
25-connection additive license $3,155 $1,680
50-connection additive license $5,455 $2,900
100-connection additive license $10,745 $5,700
250-connection additive license $26,305 $13,950
500-connection additive license $52,500 $27,830

Nobody’s perfect
Despite my enthusiasm for the operating system, I was a little disappointed that there was no attempt made to improve NSS volumes. The lack of file compression, TTS support, and quota support renders this technology almost useless to most of us. However, Novell has said that these enhancements are on the way, so I hope they’ll show up in the next release.

I am also bothered by the fact that Novell has made no effort to inform us that after 90 days our unlimited Pervasive.SQL 2000 license will revert to a two-user license, forcing us to purchase any additional licenses we need. This little surprise can be quite a shock to project managers and administrators, and it amazes me that Novell does not make more of an effort to alert us. For more information, see “Pervasive.SQL 2000 deployment costs changed in NetWare 5.1.”

These two issues aside, I really like the direction that Novell is taking with the Web-based design of the operating system. Incorporating proven Web-based products and the Oracle8i database lends credibility to Novell’s efforts and gives us some measure of confidence in recommending these products. NetWare 5.1 truly has no rivals when it comes to incorporating all of these reliable and proven features into one integrated operating system.

Steve Pittsley is a desktop analyst for a Milwaukee hospital. He enjoys playing drums, bowling, and most sports.

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