It’s not uncommon to see small businesses that have four or five computers running a peer-to-peer network and using Hotmail or Yahoo for their e-mail. Another common scenario is to have four or five separate systems (that aren’t networked), and only one has access to the Internet.

When the need or desire hits these small businesses to connect their computers, set up company e-mail accounts, and share access to resources and the Internet, the proposition can be daunting and expensive.

While there are a variety of potentially low-cost solutions, including Linux, small business owners may want something a little easier to work with and something that can easily grow with them as their business grows. That’s where the Novell Small Business Starter Pack comes in.

What is it?
The Novell Small Business Starter Pack is a program launched by Novell to provide small businesses having five or fewer computers with free—yes, free—Novell software, including NetWare 6, GroupWise 6, BorderManager 3.7, and ZENworks for Desktops 3.2. The product also includes two server licenses allowing a small business to, for example, run BorderManager on a separate system from NetWare and GroupWise.

Note that this is an official Novell program and not simply a promotion. The current plan is for this program to be continually updated as the component software is updated.

How do you get it?
The only way a small business can take advantage of this offering is by contacting a Novell reseller or a consultant authorized to distribute Novell products. Novell resellers are jumping all over this new program. Since the program was announced, Novell has signed up more than 1,000 new partners. Small businesses need only acquire appropriate hardware and the services of a Novell partner to take advantage of this program.

Installing the Starter Pack
The Starter Pack is a set of seven CDs, each of which has a component for getting the system running. I’ll show you how to get started by going over the steps to install NetWare 6 from this package. Here’s a list of the CDs:

  • CD 1—OS CD (bootable)—NetWare 6
  • CD 2—Novell and Partner Solutions CD
  • CD 3—Client software
  • CD 4—Starter Pack documentation
  • CD 5—BorderManager Enterprise Edition 3.7
  • CD 6—GroupWise 6
  • CD 7—ZENworks for Desktops 3.2

Getting started is as easy as inserting the first CD into the CD drive of your server and booting from it. The installation program does not indicate that this is any different than the Novell Small Business Suite (non-Starter Pack edition).

For the installation type, you have two selections: Standard and Advanced (Figure A).

Figure A

The Standard installation makes a lot of choices for you, but it still allows you to make modifications to the NDS configuration, the DOS settings, and the NetWare volume settings. The Advanced installation type allows you much more control. For this demonstration, I’ll choose the Standard installation.

The next step is to determine the size of the DOS partition. For this example, I’ll create a new 250 MB DOS partition (Figure B).

Figure B

After you create the DOS partition, your system will reboot and the installation will restart. This time, you can select the option indicating that you want to use the existing DOS partition (Figure B).

The next step is to provide the server with an IP address. A default address is provided but may not work depending on the network configuration. If you need to change it, do so. If not, accept the default (Figure C).

Figure C

Directory services
The Standard installation also lets you customize directory services by providing an organization name, a directory tree name, and the name of the first server. For this example, I named both the organization and the tree “lab” and named my first server “s1,” as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

The SYS volume is always required, and the installation asks for the size you want to make it. For this demonstration, I made mine 4,096 MB (4 GB), as shown in Figure E. If you still have space left over, you’re asked for a volume name to which you’d like to allocate this space. I used the name “vol1.”

Figure E

The administrative user
In the final step before installation begins, you’re asked to provide a name and password for your administrative user (Figure F). I used the NetWare default name “admin” and gave it the password “adminpassword.” Of course, you shouldn’t use such an obvious name and password for a live server.

Figure F

After this, the installer copies the appropriate files to the drive and starts NetWare in order to complete the installation. You’re asked to accept the license agreements for the Novell software and the Java components, after which the file copy portion of the NetWare part of the installation starts (Figure G).

Figure G

The graphical installer
At this point, with NetWare started, the installer switches to graphical mode (Figure H), if your system supports it. You’re then asked for your local time zone.

Figure H

After you make your selection, the installer proceeds to configure NDS based on the parameters you provided earlier and copies the remaining files necessary to complete the NetWare 6 installation. Once the remaining files are copied, the server prompts you for a reboot.

The remaining components and updates
Any service packs and the remaining components can be installed after the server comes back up. Obviously, you should bring all new NetWare servers up to the latest service pack level and install any required patches and updates.

From here, you can also install GroupWise 6 for a standards-based e-mail system. Plus, you can install BorderManager 3.7 for a firewall/gateway/VPN server, and ZENworks for Desktops 3.2 to easily manage desktop systems (of course, that may be overkill in a small network).

While Novell is clearly trying to get its foot in the door of small businesses, which could grow larger and become paying customers, this offer may still be useful for many small companies. Even if these companies go with a Novell solution now, they could always switch to other software (such as Windows) later, since migrating a small network usually isn’t that difficult. Consultants should definitely consider this offering for their small business clients.