No software ships 100% bug free. The complexity of today’s software means that no matter how much vendors test their software, eventually some bugs will pop up in the real world. Although NetWare 5 is a very stable product, it suffers from this same problem. Fortunately, Novell is very prompt in repairing problems in its products with its Support Packs. It also uses these Support Packs as a way to update features in NetWare. In this article, I’ll look at Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5.

Why do I need Support Pack 6a?
If your NetWare 5 server is currently running without any problems, you may think that you don’t need Support Pack 6a. You’re wrong. Just because you don’t encounter a bug right now, it doesn’t mean there’s not one waiting for you.

Support Pack 6a replaces almost all system components in NetWare 5. Even if you’re not currently experiencing problems with your server, you should apply this Support Pack. If you have any problems with your NetWare 5 server and try to call Novell’s Support hotline, they won’t talk to you until you install Support Pack 6a.

Unlike patches Novell supplied with earlier versions of NetWare, Support Pack 6a includes patches released in all previous Support Pack versions. You don’t need to install any of the previous Support Packs before you install Support Pack 6a. Just grab this Support Pack and go.

Support Pack 6a fixes numerous hidden problems with NetWare 5 (including fixing problems introduced with earlier Support Packs). Some of the problems Support Pack 6a addresses include:

  • Error –625 dealing with the failure of Novell Directory Services to synchronize when the server synchronizes Directory Services objects with large attributes across a WAN with a lot of traffic.
  • The DSRepair hangs on unlocking database files, or waiting for directory services to release local database files.
  • DHCP Server abends that occur when you unload DHCPSRVR.NLM.
  • Abends that may occur in packet handling by DS.NLM.
  • The –131 Errors that can occur while running DSRepair.
  • Corrupt extended attributes in files with long names.
  • How NCopy sometimes corrupts Microsoft Access files when it copies them.
  • Memory leaks in NDPS.
  • Page faults that can occur on DOSFAT NSS volumes when editing files.
  • Days of the week being one day off for the entire year in years prior to 1970.

Fixes carried over from previous Support Packs include:

  • Abends that may occur when exiting utilities like Unicon, Tcpcon, Ipxcon, Inetcfg, Monitor, and DSRepair.
  • Abends that may occur if an NLM unloads from a protected address space without deleting all of its processes.
  • Daylight saving time calculations that don’t always function properly for time zones where there is no daylight saving or for time zones in the Southern hemisphere.
  • DSRepair consuming large amounts of disk space due to a problem with FILESYS.NLM.
  • Memory leaks in THREAD.NLM.
  • NSS hanging when another NLM loads at the same time.
  • THREADS.NLM abends when your server becomes low in memory.

Novell has done more than just fix bugs with Support Pack 6a. It has also taken the opportunity to release new features for NetWare 5. Some of the new features included in Support Pack 6a include:

  • A new version of NDS—version 7.51.
  • Compatibility with NDS 8.
  • Directory space limitations added for NSS.

Support Pack 6a doesn’t update the Novonyx FastTrack Server that came with NetWare 5. Novell has dropped FastTrack Server in favor of the Netscape Enterprise Server. You can download Netscape Enterprise Server for NetWare 4/5 for free from Novell’s Software Download page.

Where can I get it?
You can get Support Pack 6a by going to Novell’s Support site at the NetWare 5 Support Pack 6a page. On this page, you can view detailed information about the Support Pack and go to the download page. To download the file, click the link with the NW50SP6A.EXE filename.

You can then select the location from which to download the file. Make sure you have plenty of time or a very fast Internet connection. Novell’s Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5 is 158,210,659 bytes long. On a standard 56K modem, the file can take several hours to download.
If you prefer to have the files on CD rather than downloading from the Internet, then you can order Novell’s Consolidated Support Pack CD. The Consolidated Support Pack CD includes the latest Support Packs for NetWare 5.x, NetWare 4.11/4.2, ManageWise 2.7, BorderManager 3.x, and GroupWise 5.5.
Novell plans to update the CD every three months. You can order the CD from Novell for $39 plus shipping and handling. If you currently subscribe to Novell’s Support Connection CD, you’ll automatically receive the Consolidated Support Pack CD. To find out more about the Consolidated Support Pack CD go to the Consolidated Support Pack CD page on their Web site.
After you download the file to a temporary file on your hard drive, you can run the self-extracting executable to unpack the file. You can extract the file to the root directory of your server’s SYS volume or your workstation’s C: drive. If you’re updating multiple servers, you might find it handier to extract the installation files to your workstation and install the Support Pack onto your servers from there.

The filenames and paths contained in the Support Pack exceed standard DOS limits. Therefore, you should make sure that you’ve loaded long name support onto your server’s SYS volume. When you extract the files from NW50SP6A.EXE, you’ll notice over 3475 files extract that take in excess of 280 MB of space.

Preflight checklist for Support Pack 6a
After you extract the files, you’re ready to begin upgrading your server. Before you do, however, you should take some precautions. First, make sure you have a full backup of your server. Double-check to make sure your NDS database backed up as well as your data.

Next, if you run a mix of NetWare 4.11/4.2 and NetWare 5 on your network, you must check to make sure you’re running the proper versions of NDS on your servers. Your intraNetWare/NetWare 4.11 servers must at least be running DS 6.0. If you’ve already installed Support Pack 4 and the DS411Q.EXE patch on your NetWare 4.11 servers, you’re in good shape. If you have NetWare 4.2 servers, just install the files included in DS411Q.EXE, unless you’ve already installed Support Pack 8a or later. Your NetWare 5 servers should be running NDS v7.09 or greater.

To check the version of NDS you’re running on your server, type

modules ds.nlm

at the server’s console prompt and press [Enter]. Your server will then display NDS’ version number and date.

If you haven’t upgraded your NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers yet, you should download and install Support Pack 8a for NetWare 4.11/4.2. You can get these files by going to Novell’s Support Connection Web site and downloading them from the product support area. Don’t attempt to mix NetWare 4.1 servers and NetWare 5 servers in the same directory tree unless the NetWare 4.1 servers are at DS v5.15 or greater.

Next, you must unload Java from your server. This ensures that the Support Pack’s installation program can upgrade all of your server’s Java files. To do so, type UNLOAD JAVA at the server’s : prompt and press [Enter]. Doing this doesn’t remove any files from your server. It only stops Java from running on your server. Also, check to make sure you’ve unloaded any Java applications such as ConsoleOne.

Support Pack caveats
There are a few small issues you should be aware of before you install the Support Pack. After you’ve finished installing the Support Pack, or if you install new software after applying the Support Pack, you may need to go back and make some adjustments to your server’s configuration. Some of the main problems associated with Support Pack 6a include:

  • If you run NDS 8.0 on your network, you may see an error during the installation of the Support Pack indicating an error copying files. If this is the case, after the Support Pack installs, you’ll need to go back and copy the DSBACKER.NLM file from NDS 8.0 to the SYS:\SYSTEM directory.
  • If you administer BorderManager Enterprise Edition 3.0 services on a NetWare 5.0 server that has Support Pack 6, you may experience licensing error messages when you install BorderManager Enterprise Edition 3.0 after the Support Pack.
  • If you install BorderManager on your server after installing Support Pack 6a, you may have some problems. First, you may encounter an error dealing with the BorderManager NDS schema extensions. Don’t worry about this error. It’s a false alarm. You may also have the same problems with TCP/IP as a server that already has BorderManager installed.
  • You may have problems with TCP/IP after installing Support Pack 6a on a NetWare server that already has BorderManager installed. Support Pack 6a’s TCP/IP version isn’t compatible with BorderManager’s encrypted TCP/IP. This can cause communication failures between servers or between servers and workstations.
  • If you load NetWare for Macintosh, you might get an error message reporting outdated APIs for the NLM programs. Just ignore it. The NLM programs will still load and run correctly.
  • If you install GroupWise 5.5 on your NetWare 5 server after applying Support Pack 6a, you may have problems with NetWare Administrator. GroupWise 5.5’s installation program overwrites the version of NetWare Administrator on your server with one older than the one included with Support Pack 6a. After installing GroupWise, reinstall Support Pack 6a.
  • After installing the Support Pack, the Netscape Enterprise Web Server will no longer generate keys using the SEC-KEY.NLM from the server console.
  • You may encounter a problem on your server if it uses an Intel EtherExpress Pro 100B network card. The older E100BLAN driver that came with NetWare 5 and the one that came from Intel doesn’t fully support NetWare 5’s C ODI specification. You should switch to the CE100B.LAN driver that comes with Support Pack 6a instead.

There are some circumstances where you shouldn’t install the Support Pack at all. For example, you shouldn’t install the Support Pack if you are using NFS 3.0 with the NFS Gateway. The NFS Gateway is tied to the NSS version. With the new NSS that is delivered with the Support Pack, the gateway will be broken.

Installing the Support Pack
After preparing, you’re ready to install Support Pack 6a on your NetWare 5 server. The installation may take some time, so you may want to install it over the weekend or after business hours. If you run multiple NetWare 5 servers, you should upgrade them all at once. Likewise, if you have NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers in your tree, you should update them at the same time as your NetWare 5 servers.
Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5 only works with NetWare 5 servers. If you’re running NetWare 5.1, do NOT install Support Pack 6a. Instead, you should download and install Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1. For more information on Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1, see the article entitled “Novell releases Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1.”
Likewise, don’t install Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1 on a NetWare 5 server. Even though the files are newer with Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1, and many of the NetWare 5.1 and NetWare 5 files and Support Pack files have the same filenames, Support Pack 2a for NetWare 5.1 files will not work properly on a NetWare 5 server.
If possible, you should install Support Pack 6a in a test environment before rolling it out to all of your NetWare 5 servers. This is especially true if you use many third-party NLMs for such things as backups or network management. Novell tries very hard to make sure the Support Packs don’t break third-party applications, but it can’t test everything. If you double-check your NLMs in advance, you may save yourself some headaches.

You have the choice to install the Support Pack from your server’s console or from your workstation. If you plan to install the Support Pack from your workstation, make sure you have RSPX and RConsole loaded on your server. Then, open an RConsole session on your workstation and connect to your server. Using RConsole is probably the easiest choice if you have many servers to update. After loading RConsole on all of the servers, you can connect to them one at a time and run the update.

You’re now ready to begin applying Support Pack 6a. To begin, type


at your server’s console prompt and press [Enter]. When you do, you’ll see the NetWare Configuration screen. Highlight Product Options on the Configuration Options menu and press [Enter].

You’ll then see the Other Installation Actions menu. Highlight Install A Product Not Listed and press [Enter]. By default, NWConfig tries to install new products from the A: drive. To change this, press [F3] to specify a location on your server. If you’re running RConsole, you can press [F4] to specify a location on your workstation. Type the path to the location of where you extracted the NW50SP6A.EXE files and press [Enter].

NWConfig then asks you which file groups you want to install as shown in Figure A. On this screen, select whether or not you want NWConfig to make a backup copy of the files that it is going to replace. This backup procedure doesn’t replace the full backup you should have done before you started installing the Support Pack to begin with. It only copies older files to a backup directory in case you need to back out the Support Pack. As we said above, Support Pack 6a may not be compatible with some of your third-party NLMs. If you don’t check this box, you may have problems backing out the Support Pack once you’ve started.

You also need to select the Install NetWare 5 Support Pack check box. If you don’t, the Support Pack won’t load. Press [F10] to continue.

Figure A
You can choose to back up old files before installing Support Pack 6a.

Before the installation starts, NWConfig warns you the server may experience an abend if you have any open DLL files. This includes files such as those used by NetWare Administrator. Make sure all such files are closed before continuing. Once they are closed, press [Enter] to continue.

NWConfig also warns you that JAVA.NLM must be unloaded. You’ll see this error even if you’ve already unloaded Java. Don’t panic, just press [Enter] to continue.

NWConfig then copies the Support Pack 6a files to your server. Depending on the speed of your server, this may take some time. Don’t panic if your server’s console appears to lock up. NWConfig may swap out temporarily to load and unload additional NLMs. As long as the hard drive on your server is making noise, you’re probably okay.

NWConfig may prompt you to enter your Admin user ID and password to install LDAP Services. You’ll need to give the fully distinguished context for the Admin user object in the Administrator Name field. After you enter the ID and password, press [Enter] to continue.

After the files finish copying, you’re done. Double-check all of your .NCF files to make sure Support Pack 6a didn’t accidentally change anything. Shut down and restart your server and go back to work. You can do so by using the DOWN command followed by EXIT and then turning your server off and on, or you can do so by using the RESET SERVER command.

Don’t forget to apply Support Pack 6a to the other NetWare 5 servers in your tree. Also, don’t forget to apply Support Pack 8a to any NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers that are also in the same NDS tree as your NetWare 5 servers.

As a network administrator, one of your most important jobs is keeping your servers up-to-date. Doing so includes regularly applying bug fixes and support packs. In this article, I showed you the latest patch for NetWare 5—Support Pack 6a for NetWare 5.
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.