At our house, we have a tree in our backyard that was planted when the house was built 50 years ago. What was once a small sapling is now a huge, 100-foot maple tree that shades our entire backyard. If you stand on our deck and look at the tree, you’ll see it’s full of birds, squirrels, nests, and dead branches. Tree limbs go this way and that, in places almost touching the ground like a weeping willow. Naturally, one of my least favorite tasks is getting back there with the saw and trimming those branches.

NDS trees are a lot like real trees: The longer you have them, the larger they grow. NDS trees fill up with users and groups (instead of birds and squirrels), and branches of the tree become empty and dead when you move objects around. You can use NetWare Administrator or ConsoleOne to try to trim your NDS tree back down to size, but these tools can be cumbersome for doing mass deletions. In this Daily Drill Down, I will introduce you to a faster, easier way to trim your NDS tree: Timber freeware software.

Danger! Danger! Danger!

Timber is a utility for erasing objects from your NDS tree. Be very careful when using it and make sure you have several good backups before you start. When you delete objects from NDS using Timber, the deletions are permanent. There is no UNDO to save you if you accidentally delete an important container.

Likewise, make sure you keep this tool secure. Although a user must be logged on with Admin rights to delete objects from the NDS tree, you should still keep the file out of reach of your users. A user who accesses Timber and somehow figures out your Admin password can wreak havoc on your NDS tree.

Trimming NDS the old-fashioned way
In NetWare, the traditional tools for administering NDS are NetWare Administrator and ConsoleOne. These point-and-click utilities give you complete control over your NDS tree. Naturally, one of the things these utilities let you do is delete objects from your tree.

If you’re deleting one or two objects, NetWare Administrator and ConsoleOne work well. All you have to do is start the utilities, select the object or objects you want to delete from your NDS tree, right-click on them, and select Delete.

However, things become complicated when you want to perform multiple deletions or when you want to clear out an entire container. Neither NetWare Administrator nor ConsoleOne allows you to delete container objects. Instead, you must select the objects in the container individually and then delete the container. If you have container objects within the container you want to delete, you must first delete all the objects within the subcontainers and the subcontainers themselves before you can delete the main container object.

When you want to delete objects in NetWare Administrator and ConsoleOne, you must select each object you want to delete. You can either do so one at a time or by pressing [Ctrl], selecting multiple objects, and then deleting them. Neither NetWare Administrator nor ConsoleOne gives you the ability to select classes of objects at once, such as choosing to delete all groups.

Timber makes deleting files easier
Timber allows you to delete files in ways that NetWare Administrator and ConsoleOne cannot. Timber can delete container objects whether they’re empty or not. It can recursively delete objects within the container object and the subcontainer it contains. Timber also lets you delete entire classes of objects, such as all user objects and all group objects.

Timber, a freeware utility, is not produced by Novell. As such, Novell doesn’t support it. Be very careful when using Timber, because if you accidentally delete a container object and need to get it back, you’re out of luck. Your only hope is to have a good backup. So make sure you have several good copies of your NDS tree before running Timber.

You can download Timber from the Timber 1.3.1 Web site. Don’t be surprised by the minimalist nature of the site, which belongs to the author of Timber. Because the product is a third-party freeware utility, you can’t expect a well-designed Web site or great support for it.

To download the file, click the Timber link, and the TIMBERZIP.EXE file will download to your administration workstation. The file is only 1.7 MB, so it will download pretty quickly. Save the file to a temporary location on your administration workstation.

Installing Timber
Like NetWare Administrator and ConsoleOne, Timber runs on your administration workstation, not from your NetWare server. To install Timber, execute the TIMBERZIP.EXE file that you downloaded. You’ll need to specify a temporary location on your administration workstation. After the files extract, go to the temporary directory and run Setup.

Timber’s Setup program works like most Windows installation programs. You’ll see an introductory splash screen that you can bypass by clicking OK. You’ll then see the Timber Installation Setup screen.

As a quick note, this is the first indication you’ll see that the author of Timber isn’t a very good speller. Words are misspelled in several places in the Setup routine and within Timber. Don’t let the mistakes give you a negative view of the software. Spelling problems aside, Timber works very well.

Setup suggests a location for Timber’s files. You can either accept the default location or choose a new one. To choose a new directory, click Change Directory and enter the appropriate location. To start the installation, click Click This Button.

Setup copies Timber to your administration workstation and configures it appropriately. As part of the installation, Setup asks which Program Group you want to use for Timber. The default group is Druemont Software, which you can accept by clicking OK, or you can change it by entering a new group name in the Program Group field. After you click Continue, Setup finishes the installation. You can then start using Timber.

Using Timber
Using Timber is very simple. Click Start | Programs | Druemont Software | Timber. When you do, you’ll see Timber appear, as shown in Figure A. As you can see, the Timber screen is clean, with no confusing menu options to deal with.

Figure A
Timber’s main window is very easy to use.

To start, click the Select button. This button allows you to specify the NDS tree and context where you want to delete objects. Clicking Select displays the Please Choose A Context screen shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Choose the context where you want to delete objects.

The Look In drop-down list navigates your NDS tree. When you see the container object you want to delete, select it and click Select. This will return you to the main Timber screen, filling in the NDS context in the text box immediately under the Select button.

Below this box, you’ll see two radio buttons: All Objects and Specific Object. If you leave the default choice of All Objects selected, Timber will delete all objects from the container. If you select Specific Object, you can then choose the NDS objects from the Specific Object drop-down list. You can select and mass-delete only one type of object at a time. For example, you can only select and delete all user objects, not all user objects and group objects while leaving printer objects.

Below the object radio buttons, you’ll see three check boxes. If you select the Sub Container check box, Timber will recursively delete objects within subcontainers of the container object you’ve selected. Selecting Delete Also Selected Container causes Timber to delete the selected container itself after it empties the container. The Delete Non Container Object Only check box restricts Timber from deleting container objects. If you select this option, Timber will not delete any container objects at all.

In an odd bit of programming, Delete Also Selected Container and Delete Non Container Object Only act like radio buttons rather than check boxes. You can’t select both check boxes at the same time. When you select one, the other deselects automatically, so don’t be surprised if this happens when you try to select both.

After you’ve made your selections, click Let’s Go. Another window will appear, and Timber will quickly begin erasing objects. When finished, the Status screen appears showing the total number of objects erased. Click Close to remove the Status screen. The Timber screen will then reappear.

Don’t panic if you notice that all of your selections have disappeared. Timber resets itself to its default choices after erasing files. You can then make new selections to delete additional containers or close Timber.

After you close Timber, open NetWare Administrator or ConsoleOne to check your handiwork. You should notice that the container you selected is missing from your NDS tree. Make sure that only the containers you selected are missing. If the container is still there, look inside of it to see if the objects within the container are still there. If the objects are gone, chances are you just forgot to select Delete Also Selected Container.

When it comes to tidying up your NDS tree, you’ll find Timber to be a very useful program. It’s a bit quirky in how some of the screens operate and contains spelling mistakes in some areas, but the bottom line is, it works well. Besides, when you consider the price, $0, it’s easy to overlook a few cosmetic mistakes on a product that can save you lots of clicking.