SolutionBase: Support Pack 5 for NetWare 6 does more than fix bugs

The newest support pack for NetWare 6 not only solves problems you might be facing, but also adds some nice features to the product. Here's what you need to know about the newest update.

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.