Even though Novell concentrates most of its efforts in selling and supporting NetWare 5, it hasn’t given up supporting its older software, such as NetWare 4.11 and NetWare 4.2. Novell understands that many of its customers haven’t updated from their older versions, and goes to great lengths to provide current updates and fixes for those customers.

Although NetWare 4.11/4.2 is a very stable product, it suffers from occasional problems. Fortunately, Novell promptly repairs problems in its products with Support Packs. In this Daily Drill Down, we’ll look at Support Pack 8a for NetWare 4.11/4.2.

Why do I need Support Pack 8a?
Support Pack 8a only applies to servers that run NetWare 4.11, intraNetWare, and NetWare 4.2. If you still run NetWare 4.1 or an earlier version of 4.x, don’t use Support Pack 8a. Installing Support Pack 8a on these earlier versions of NetWare 4.x will only cause you trouble.

If your NetWare 4.11/4.2 server is currently running without any problems, you may think that you don’t need Support Pack 8a. You’re wrong. Just because you don’t encounter a bug right now, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one waiting for you. Additionally, if you have any problems with your server and try to call Novell’s Support hotline, they won’t talk to you until you install Support Pack 8a.

Support Pack 8a replaces almost all system components in NetWare 4.11/4.2. Unlike the patches Novell supplied with earlier versions of NetWare, Support Pack 8a includes patches released in all earlier Support Packs. You don’t need to install any of the previous Support Packs before you install Support Pack 8a. Just grab Support Pack 8a and go. Some of the problems addressed by Support Pack 8a include:

  • A year 2000 display problem in the NLIST.EXE utility.
  • Alias objects mutate into different object classes under some conditions.
  • ATCFG.NLM may not automatically load with INETCFG.
    Abends occur in SCMD.NLM and CLIB.NLM when starting NetWare 4.2.
  • Errors can occur that cause packets to be sent repeatedly from applications, causing high utilization problems on the server.
  • Memory leaks when AFP is loaded.
  • NLMs that unload without deleting all of their threads sometimes cause abends.
  • Object obituaries may process incorrectly if a 4.11 server holds the master replica of a partition that is also replicated on 5.x servers.

Novell has done more than just fix bugs with Support Pack 8a. It has also taken the opportunity to release new features for NetWare 5. Some of the new features included in Support Pack 8a are:

  • A new version of NDS—v6.09
  • Compatibility with NetWare 5’s NDS 8.0
  • Support for long file names on Novell’s FTP server

Support Pack 8a doesn’t update the WebServer that came with IntraNetWare. Novell has dropped WebServer 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 8a by going to the NetWare 4.11/4.2 Support Pack 8a page on Novell’s Support site. 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 NWSP8A.EXE file name.

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 8a for NetWare 4.11/4.2 is 72,039,273 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 them from the Internet, you can order Novell’s Consolidated Support Pack CD. The Consolidated Support Pack CD includes the latest Support Packs for NetWare 5, NetWare 4.11/4.2, and ManageWise 2.6.At the time this Daily Drill Down was written, Novell hadn’t updated the CD to include NetWare 4.11/4.2’s Support Pack 8a. Instead, it only contains Support Pack 8, which includes a few issues that 8a fixes. That may change by the time you read this. 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 Web site.
After downloading 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 to drive C on your workstation. If you’re updating multiple servers, you might find it handier to extract the installation files to your workstation and install the Support Pack to your servers from there. When you extract the files from NWSP8a.EXE, you’ll notice that over 4,000 files extract, taking over 210 MB of space.

Pre-flight checklist for Support Pack 8a
After extracting the files, you’re ready to being 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 that 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 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’s version number and date.

You may have used the REMOVE DOS command to save memory on your server. Unfortunately, doing so prevents Support Pack 8a from running. Check your .NCF files to make sure this command hasn’t been included. If it has, remove it and restart your server. If you issued the command on your own, you’ll need to restart your server as well.

If you have NetWare for SAA on your server, there are a few hoops you must jump through. Although it’s beyond the scope of this Daily Drill Down, you can find detailed information about what you need to do by reading the NW4SP8A.TXT file that comes with the Support Pack. Make sure you read this file anyway. It includes last minute information about the Support Pack along with special installation instructions for those who run NetWare 4.2 for Small Business.

Support Pack caveats
Unfortunately, bug fixes sometimes introduce new bugs into your operating system. Novell diligently tests Support Packs before releasing them, but it can’t test every possible configuration that its customers have. Problems sometimes appear after release—usually with third party applications.

One problem you should be aware of is an incompatibility with ArcServe 6.1. The TSA410.NLM, SMDR.NLM, and TSANDS.NLM files that come with Support Pack 8a can cause your server to abend with ArcServe 6.1 when it backs up NDS. If you use ArcServe 6.1, you must copy back the versions of TSA410.NLM, SMDR.NLM, and TSANDS.NLM that came with Support Pack 6a to your SYS:\SYSTEM directory.

You may have problems with TCP/IP after installing Support Pack 8a on a NetWare server that already has BorderManager installed. Support Pack 8a’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. To get around this problem, download and install Novell’s latest encrypted TCP/IP update.

If you install GroupWise 5.5 on your server after applying Support Pack 8a, you may have problems with NWAdmin. GroupWise 5.5’s installation program overwrites the version of NWAdmin on your server with a version that’s older than the one included with Support Pack 8a. After installing GroupWise, reinstall Support Pack 8a.

Installing the Support Pack
Now you’re ready to install Support Pack 8a on your NetWare 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 servers, you should upgrade them all at once, starting with the server that contains the master replica of your NDS database. Likewise, if you have NetWare 5 servers in your tree, you should update them at the same time as your NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers.

If possible, you should install Support Pack 8a in a test environment before rolling it out to your production servers. This is especially true if you use many third party NLMs for tasks such as backups or network management. Novell tries very hard to make sure that 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 a 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 8a. To begin, type LOAD INSTALL at your server’s console prompt and press [Enter]. When you do, you’ll see the NetWare Server Installation screen. Highlight Product Options on the Installation 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, Install tries to install new products from drive A. 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 where you extracted the NW4SP8a.EXE files and press [Enter].

Next, Install asks which file groups you want to install, as shown in Figure A. On this screen, you select whether you want Install to backup files that it’s going to replace. This backup procedure doesn’t replace the full backup you should have done before you started installing the Support Pack. 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 8a may not be compatible with some of your third-party NLMs. If you don’t select this check box, you may have problems backing out the Support Pack.

Support Pack 8a includes new and updated drivers for NetWare 4.11/4.2. To update them, you must select the Install Driver Updates For Disk, LAN, WAN check box. Likewise, if you want to install Novell’s Licensing Kit, you must select the Novell Licensing Services (NLS) Installation Kit check box.

Naturally, you must select the Install The NetWare Support Pack v8.0 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 8a.

Install then copies the Support Pack 8a 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. Install may swap out temporarily to load and unload additional NLMs. As long as your server’s hard drive’s making noise, you’re probably OK.

After the files finish copying, you’re done. Double-check all of your .NCF files to make sure Support Pack 8a didn’t accidentally change anything. Shut down and restart your server and go back to work. Don’t just use the RESTART SERVER command from your console prompt. You must use the DOWN and EXIT commands and then reboot your server. If you don’t, the SERVER.EXE file won’t update properly.

Don’t forget to apply Support Pack 8a to the other NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers in your tree. Also, don’t forget to apply Support Pack 4 to any NetWare 5 servers that are also in the same NDS tree as your NetWare 4.11/4.2 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 Daily Drill Down, we showed you the latest patch for NetWare 4.11/4.2—Support Pack 8a.

John Sheesley has been supporting networks since 1986, when he got his hands on NetWare 2.2. Since then, he’s worked with the Jefferson County Police Department in Louisville, KY and the Genlyte-Thomas Group. John’s been a technical writer for several leading publishers, including TechRepublic, The Cobb Group, and ZDJournals. If you’d like to contact John, send him an e-mail .

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.