Even though NetWare 6 comes from a long line of stable
software, some network administrators make it a policy not to install any
network operating system until the release of several support packs. If you’re
one of those admins, you’re in luck: Novell just released the latest support
pack for NetWare 6. In this article, I’ll take a look at the problems it fixes,
the features it adds, and how to install it on your server.

Why
do I need Support Pack 5?

As you know, NetWare is basically a pretty stable platform.
Once you have it up and running, there’s really not much you need to do to it.
But even though NetWare 6 was developed from the solid foundation of NetWare
5.x, which itself came from the bedrock of the NetWare 4.x generation, there
are still bugs hiding in the software.

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

No software is perfect, and even support packs can be
faulty. Some support packs can cause more problems than they fix. Novell has
recalled and re-released some support packs because of such problems. For
example, when Novell released Support Pack 5 for NetWare 5, it caused almost as
many problems as it fixed. Novell quickly pulled the Support Pack from its Web
site and replaced it with Support Pack 5a. Although there have been minor
issues with Support Pack 5 for NetWare 6, so far there have been no major
recalls or problems with it.

Even so, you may want to install support packs only if they
address a problem or need that you have, or if you need to speak with Novell
Technical Support. Also, make sure you have several good backups of your entire
network, especially your NDS database, before installing a support pack.

Novell claims that Support Pack 5 will be the last Support
Pack for NetWare 6.0. Make sure you install this Support Pack before installing
any other Novell updates. Also, don’t try to install the Support Packs Novell
issues for NetWare 6.5 on a NetWare 6.0 server. Even though the major version
number is the same, the operating systems are different enough.

What does it fix?

Unlike the myriad of separate patches Novell supplied with
NetWare 3.x and 4.x, Support Pack 5 includes all of the patches you need for
NetWare 6 in one single file. You don’t need to install any previous patch
files before you install Support Pack 5. Just grab the support pack and go.

Support Pack 5 fixes numerous hidden problems with NetWare
6. For a complete list of bug fixes, visit Novell’s Support Web site. Some of the problems it
addresses include:

  • Memory
    leaks in the Server.exe kernel
  • When
    installing NetWare clustering, install failure when there’s no shared
    storage
  • Pagefault
    abends in TRUSTBAR.NLM
  • Volume
    quotas resetting when rebuilding an NSS pool
  • HTTPSTK.NLM
    abends when you enter too many characters into the username or password
    fields during logon
  • NDPS
    Broker binding to IPX even if you don’t bind IPX to the server
  • An
    SNMP security vulnerability (carried over from Support Pack 1)
  • Being
    unable to rename NSS volumes once you’ve created them (carried over from
    Support Pack 1)
  • iPrint
    problems with duplicate driver IDs (carried over from Support Pack 1)
  • Novell
    Modular Authentication Services (NMAS) encountering errors during its
    logon method when implementing a password change request (carried over
    from Support Pack 1)
  • FTP
    not allowing logging by specifying Country and Locality objects (carried
    over from Support Pack 1)

Novell has done more than just fix bugs with this support
pack. It has also taken the opportunity to release new features for NetWare 6.
Some of the new features include the following:

  • You
    can now manage TimeSync from within NetWare Remote Manager.
  • Novell
    iManager now includes a tab for Windows XP drivers on the Client Support
    page.
  • Novell
    changed the way service processes are handled on the server to avoid
    abends.
  • NetWare
    Remote Manager can create reports about your print system.
  • NSLOOKUP.NLM
    has been added to allow you to troubleshoot DNS problems.
  • NetWare
    WebAccess adds support for handheld PDAs.
  • Novell
    Cluster Services now allows you to cluster-enable volumes and pools when
    you create them.
  • Novell
    JVM for NetWare has been updated to version 1.4.1.
  • Novell
    has increased the size of the Logger Screen buffer to 240 KB.
  • You
    can now view TCP/IP information in the NetWare Remote Manager as well as
    TCPCON.

Download
Support Pack 5

You’ll find Support Pack 5 on the NetWare 6 Support Pack 5 page of Novell’s
Support site. There you can view detailed information about the support pack
and select a global site from which to download the file. To download the file,
click the link with the NW6SP5E.EXE filename.

Make sure you have plenty of time or a very fast Internet
connection: Novell’s Support Pack 5 for NetWare 6 is a monster at 336,949,327
bytes. On a standard 56-Kb modem, the file can take several hours to download.
Even on our T1 connection, the entire file took almost an hour to download.

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 to your servers from there. When you extract the files from NW6SP5E.EXE,
you’ll see that there are over 1,200 files that take in excess of 375 MB of
space.

Support
pack caveats

After you’ve installed the support pack or when you install
new software after applying it, you may need to make some adjustments to your
server’s configuration. Some of the main problems associated with this support
pack include the following:

  • You
    may need to increase the file handles in your server’s Config.sys file.
    Check to make sure that the value of the File Handles = line is greater
    than 100. If there are too few handles, the server may hang.
  • If you’re
    running 56-bit TCP/IP already on your server, VPNs may not work after
    applying the Support Pack because the Support Pack doesn’t include the
    56-bit version of TCP/IP.
  • If you’re
    running IDE hard drives in your server, the server’s volumes may not mount
    and may display an error.
  • BorderManager
    3.7 may not work properly if you install it after installing Support Pack
    5 and the 1.4.1 JVM it includes.
  • iPrint clients may return an error when users try to
    attach to new printers.

Installing
the support pack

The installation may take some time, so you may want to
install the support pack over the weekend or after business hours. If you run
multiple NetWare 6 servers, you should upgrade them all at once. Likewise, if
you have NetWare 5.1, 5.0, or 4.11/4.2 servers in your tree, you should update
them at the same time as your NetWare 6 servers.

If possible, install this support pack in a test environment
before rolling it out to your NetWare 6 servers. This is especially true if you
use many third-party NLMs, such as backups or network management. Novell tries
to make sure their support packs don’t break third-party applications, but they
can’t test everything. If you check your NLMs in advance, you might save
yourself some headaches.

Because Support Pack 5 is so large, make sure you have
plenty of space on your server’s SYS volume, especially if you plan to use Support
Pack 5’s Backup feature. Support Pack 5 can require as much as 300 MB of free
space to complete. If your server’s SYS volume is short on space, you may want
to avoid the Backup option or load the support pack from a separate volume. If
you choose not to use the Backup option, make sure you have a complete regular
backup of your entire server in case something goes wrong.

You have the choice to install the support pack from your
server’s console or your workstation. If you plan to install it 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, connect to them one at a time and
run the update.

Applying
the support pack

To apply the support pack, type LOAD NWCONFIG
at your server’s console prompt and press [Enter]. 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 will try to install new products from the A:
drive. To change this, press [F3] and 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 NW6SP5.EXE files and
press [Enter].

From here, it’s just a matter of following the on-screen
prompts. You’ll need to read and accept the software licenses associated with
NLMs included in the support pack.

NWConfig will ask whether you want NWConfig to back up the
files it will 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 I said, Support Pack 5 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 if you need to.

NWConfig will also warn you that the server may abend if you have any open DLL files. This includes files
used by NWAdmin. Make sure all such files are closed, and then press [Enter] to
continue.

You may see a warning 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 go on.

NWConfig will then copy the Support Pack 5 files to your
server. Depending on the speed of your server, this may take some time. Don’t
worry if your server’s console appears to lock up. NWConfig may swap out
temporarily to load and unload additional NLMs. Just make sure the hard drive
on your server is making noise.

NWConfig may prompt you to enter your Admin user ID and
password to install LDAP Services or to extend the NDS Schema. 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.

Almost
finished

After the files finish copying, you’re done. Check your NCF
files to make sure Support Pack 5 didn’t accidentally change anything. Then
shut down and restart your server. You can do so by using the DOWN command
followed by EXIT and then turning your server off and then on, or by using the
RESET SERVER command at the console prompt.

Don’t forget to apply Support Pack 5 to the other NetWare 6
servers in your tree. Also, don’t forget to apply Support Pack 2 to any NetWare
6.5 server, Support Pack 7 to any NetWare 5.1 servers, Support Pack 6a to your
NetWare 5 servers, and Support Pack 9 to any NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers that are
also in the same NDS tree as your NetWare 6 servers.