Although Windows XP ships with its own network client for NetWare servers, that client doesn’t provide all the features you need to fully exploit services on your NetWare servers. Fortunately, Novell recently created a client specifically for Windows XP that provides the necessary features. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll discuss some of the features that come with the client and show you how to install it.

Author’s note

In this Daily Drill Down, I’m only going to discuss the features and installation of Novell’s Windows XP Client. To find out more about using the Microsoft Windows XP client to connect to NetWare servers, see the Daily Drill Down “Connect your Windows XP workstations to your NetWare servers.”

Why should I use Novell’s client?
To use Novell’s client, you must download it, extract it to a temporary directory, and install it. Also, adding Novell’s client will add some overhead to your machine that can cause workstations near XP’s minimum system requirements to perform more slowly. And as anyone who’s used Novell’s client on other Windows platforms knows, Novell’s clients can occasionally cause conflicts with certain applications, creating a whole new set of headaches. So it may seem easier to use Microsoft’s client. After all, it’s convenient to use because it’s included as a part of XP; you can even install it while installing Windows XP.

However, Novell’s client traditionally transfers files more quickly from NetWare servers than Microsoft’s client. Conspiracy theorists have often surmised that Microsoft intentionally slowed down its client to make NetWare look bad compared to NT. Whatever the reason, Novell’s client provides a quicker connection than Microsoft’s.

And the main reason you should use Novell’s client is, of course, to benefit from additional features. Microsoft’s client does a good job of providing basic connectivity, but it doesn’t provide full access to resources on your NetWare server. Some of the features Novell’s client gives you that Microsoft’s won’t include:

  • Access to NDPS printers.
  • Access to ZENworks features such as application distribution and environmental control.
  • The ability to centralize workstation information in NDS.
  • Remote control capabilities.

Microsoft’s client 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 Microsoft’s client to talk to a NetWare server, the server must be running pure IPX. So if you’ve migrated your servers to an IP-Only configuration, you must use Novell’s client.

You beta watch out
The Novell client is currently in beta version 4.82, which is a derivative of Novell Client 4.81 that has shipped for Windows NT and Windows 2000 for several months. Novell has released a public beta version of the client that anyone can download.

In this Daily Drill Down, we’ll be connecting the beta version of the client on Windows XP Professional in a NetWare 4.x/5.x environment. When Novell releases the final version, you will be able to download it from Novell’s Software Downloads Web site. All of the features and screens should be the same in the final version. Because the client has been released to public beta, it’s ready to go, except for some last minute bug fixes and performance tuning.

Reports I’ve read on Usenet have shown that the beta version seems to be relatively stable, albeit a little slower than expected. However, this slowness is normal for a beta client. Novell will probably do some last minute tuning to the client before final release

Until Novell releases the final version of the client, you may be better off sticking with Microsoft’s client. However, in some cases, you may be forced to deploy the beta client. If you’re in an environment where you absolutely must have all of the features from your NetWare server and can’t wait to deploy Windows XP, you may want to go ahead and use the public beta version of Novell’s client.

Obtaining and installing the client
To obtain the beta of the Novell client, go to Novell’s Public Beta Web site. You’ll need to provide a user ID and e-mail address. Select BETA-Client For Windows XP from the Choose A Beta Product drop-down list. Download the client package, NWCLNTXPA25.EXE, to a temporary directory on your administration workstation. The file is 13.8 MB long, so it may take some time if you only have a dial-up connection. Even though it’s a beta, the file size is nearly the same as the package size for Novell Client 4.81 for Windows NT/2000.

To extract the client, double-click the NWCLNTXPA25 icon. When the WinZip Self-Extractor appears, type the name of the subdirectory where you want the XP Client files to be located. The best place to put this subdirectory is either on your NetWare server or on a Windows workstation with file sharing enabled so you’ll be able to access it from your Windows XP workstation. Naturally, if you put it on your NetWare server, you’ll need to temporarily install Microsoft’s NetWare client to access the files.

Don’t be surprised if it takes a while for the extraction to complete. In all, 505 files and 65 folders extract, taking up a total of 27 MB of hard drive space. After you extract the files, create a share for the folder so you can access it from your Windows XP workstation.

To begin the installation, go to your Windows XP workstation and log in as Administrator or as a user with Administrator rights to the local machine. Connect to the share you created. You’ll have to drill down through several subfolders to get to the Novell Client Setup program. When I extracted the client files to a folder called XPClient on my test machine, the Setup program was in the XPClient\xp.a25\WINNT\i386 subfolder.

Double-click the setupnw icon to start the client’s installation. If you’ve ever installed an NT Novell client before, you won’t find anything surprising in the XP Client Setup program.

After you read and accept the license agreement, you’ll see the Novell Client Installation screen with two choices: Typical Installation or Custom Installation. With the Typical Installation option, only support for the base client and NDPS support are installed. The client detects the current protocols running on your network and configures itself automatically. The Custom Installation option gives you more control over the features the client supports, so it’s the one I usually prefer.

You’ll then see the Select Components screen shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Here, you can select which features you want to install for the client. The features include:

  • Novell Client For Windows—You can’t deselect this option; it’s the actual base client.
  • Novell Distributed Print Services—Selecting this component allows your workstation to browse and attach to NDPS printers.
  • Novell Target Service Agent—With this component, you can back up your XP workstation from your Novell server using a server-based backup utility that supports Target Service agents.
  • Novell Workstation Manager—This component allows you to do hardware inventory and register the workstation in NDS.
  • ZENworks Application Launcher—Select this component if you’re running ZENworks and want to use it to distribute applications to your workstation.
  • ZENworks Imaging Services—You’ll need this if you use the ZENworks Imaging function.
  • Remote Management—Select this component if you do remote access and control workstations with ZENworks.

After you’ve selected the components, click Next to go to the Protocol Preference screen. From there, you can specify which protocols you want the client to use. Setup will attempt to detect which protocols are already running on your network and give you a default choice. You can change it by selecting an alternate radio button. Choices include:

  • IP Only.
  • IP With IPX Compatibility. (This option should be used if you have legacy IPX applications in an IP-Only environment.)
  • IP And IPX.
  • IPX.

You can make a selection other than the default if you want to start migrating from one protocol to another. Just make sure that your servers run at least one of the protocols you choose here, or your workstation won’t be able to connect to them.

You’ll then see the Login Authenticator screen, where you can specify whether you want to use a bindery or NDS login when your workstation boots. Unless you still have old NetWare 3.x servers, you should use an NDS login. This is the default selection so click Next.

After this, you may see other configuration screens depending on the components you selected back on the Select Components screen. Fill out each screen with information appropriate for your environment and eventually, you will see a screen with the Finish button. Click the Finish button to start copying files to your workstation.

After the files copy, restart your workstation. You’ll then see the familiar Novell login screen. Login with a regular Novell user ID, and you’re ready to go.

After you install the Novell Windows XP Client on your workstation, the client should function just like the Windows NT/2000 Novell client that it’s based on. You should have full access to all of the resources on your Novell network.