You can replace the IIS Web platform in your organization with NetWare Enterprise Web Server, but it only runs on NetWare 5.1. So what do you do if you’re still running an older version of NetWare, like intraNetWare or NetWare 4.11, 4.2, or 5.0? Each of these came with their own Web server platforms, but they aren’t very good ones. However, you can update these versions to run Netscape Enterprise Server For NetWare (NESN).

Author’s note

In this article, I won’t go into a long, detailed discussion of the different versions of Web servers that shipped with earlier versions of NetWare. Nor will I compare those older versions feature for feature with the Netscape Enterprise Server For NetWare. If you want to read a brief history about Web servers on NetWare, you can read my previous Daily Drill Down, “Escape IIS problems with the NetWare Enterprise Web Server.”

What’s wrong with the version I have?
Suffice it to say that all of the Web servers that shipped with previous NetWare versions paled in comparison to NESN. Some of the major improvements over previous versions include:

  • Full Web administration.
  • Support for CGI, Perl, and Javascript.
  • NDS support for directory authentication as well as LDAP.
  • Support for SSL sign ons.
  • Web publishing.
  • Support for both hardware and software virtual servers.

However, don’t confuse NESN with the NetWare Enterprise Web Server (NEWS). They’re both based on the same underlying code, but NEWS is a newer version of NESN. It’s faster, more stable, and includes additional features.

For example, NEWS supports WebDAV, which allows Office 2000 users to use NEWS as a backend point of collaboration. Additionally, NEWS allows you to centrally administer such things as FTP, UseNet, caching, and NDS from its Web Manager utility.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t bother deploying NESN on your older NetWare file servers. It’s still a fine Web server for doing basic Web sites. Additionally, it’s much better than previous Novell offerings for these platforms.

Another alternative

If you’re brave, you can go with a non-Novell Web server for your NetWare servers. The main alternative is Apache, which is actually Novell’s approved choice for NetWare 6. In future Daily Drill Downs, I’ll show you how to deploy Apache on your NetWare 4.x, 5.x, and 6 servers.

Where can I get it and how do I prepare my servers?
You can download NESN for free from Novell’s Support Web Site. However, you should have either a fast Internet connection or a lot of patience, because the file is over 80 MB long. Save the file to a temporary directory on your administration workstation. After the file finishes downloading, execute it to extract the files it contains. You’ll only find two files, ENTERPRS.EXE, which is the main installation executable, and NESN451A.TXT, the README for NESN.

Don’t just run ENTERPRS and blindly install NESN on your network. Take some time to prepare your network and servers. Start by making sure your server meets NESN’s minimum requirements.

NESN will only run on intraNetWare, NetWare 4.11/4.2, or NetWare 5.0. If you’re running an older version of NetWare 4.x or 3.x, you’re out of luck. Also, make sure you’ve applied the latest support packs on your NetWare servers. For intraNetWare or NetWare 4.11/4.2 servers, this is Support Pack 9. If you’re running NetWare 5, Support Pack 6a is the latest version. If for some reason you haven’t updated to the latest support pack, make sure you at least have installed Support Pack 5 for NetWare 4.11/4.2 and Support Pack 1 for NetWare 5.

Make sure your server is running both IPX and TCP/IP. IPX is needed to run the ENTERPRS installation program. Naturally, you’ll need TCP/IP running on your server if you want client workstations to be able to attach to the Web server from a browser. You can check, and if necessary, enable the necessary protocols using the Inetcfg utility on your server.

Because earlier versions of NetWare didn’t have very large system requirements, you may also need to beef up your server. Make sure that your server has at least 96 MB of RAM and 200 MB of free disk space on its SYS volume.

You can install NESN from any workstation—just make sure you’re logged in as Admin or a user with administrator rights. You must also have full rights to the server and have mapped a drive to the root of the target server’s SYS volume.

The workstation must be running Windows 9x, NT 4.0 Workstation, or Windows 2000 Professional and a version of the Novell client with IPX as one of the configure protocols. After you install NESN, you can administer it from any workstation running Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator over TCP/IP.

Installing NESN
To install NESN, go to the directory on your administration workstation where you extracted the NESN451A.EXE executable. Double-click the Enterprs icon, which will start NESN’s installation wizard. Click through the welcome screen and read and accept the license agreement.

Then, you’ll see Choose Destination Location. Indicate to where you want the NESN files copied; you should specify the SYS volume of your NetWare server. To do so, click the Browse button and navigate to the drive letter you’ve mapped to the root of your server’s SYS volume. Click Next after you’ve specified the location.

If you’re running NetWare 5 and have previously installed the Netscape FastTrack Server For NetWare, you may see a Keep Settings screen. This screen allows you to indicate whether you want to preserve your current configuration or specify a new one. To preserve the configuration, select Keep Current Settings. To reconfigure the server, select Overwrite Current Settings. For this Drill Down, I selected Overwrite Current Settings.

The first configure screen you’ll see is the one shown in Figure A.

Figure A
You must specify the TCP/IP address of your NetWare server.

In the IP Address field, enter the TCP/IP address for your NetWare server. In the Host Name field, enter the DNS name for your server, such as This name must be entered into your network’s DNS for users to use the name in their Web browsers. If you don’t have a DNS or haven’t registered the name in the DNS, you can just use the TCP/IP address for now.

Next, you’ll see the Server Configuration screen where you’ll specify the TCP/IP port number on which NESN will listen. The default value is 80. Don’t change this value unless you have a very good reason. If you change the value, users will have to specify the port number you’ve chosen in order to find your Web site. This can be a good thing if you want to make the Web site a little more secure because it will be harder to find. However, it may also raise lots of questions from your less technically minded users.

The Administration Server Port Configuration screen appears next. On this screen, specify the port number that NESN listens to for administration purposes. The Admin Port field contains a randomly generated port number. Make careful note of the value. If you lose it, you won’t be able to administer NESN. In fact, you may want to specify a different value for the Admin Port field, preferably one that’s easier to remember. For example, if you have a mix of NESN and NEWS servers, you may want to set them all to NEWS’s default value of port 2200.

After you enter the value of the Admin Port field, click Next. You’ll immediately see an Information screen appear that stresses the importance of remembering the Admin Port field value. It also gives the URL of the NESN Administration site in the form of http://serveraddress:adminport. Click OK to close the Information screen and continue.

Next, you will see the Administration Server Authentication screen. Enter the user ID and password for a user who can access the NESN Administration site. This can be, but doesn’t have to be, an existing user in NDS. To make it easy to remember, you may just want to use your Admin user ID and password.

If you’ve already installed a previous version of Netscape, you’ll see the Netscape Server Already Running screen. This screen is for information purposes only and lets you know that Netscape must be stopped before you can install NESN. Click Next. You may see an LDAP Information screen appear, but just click Next to bypass it.

You’ll then see the Autoexec.ncf Options screen. Here, you can select whether or not you want the necessary commands to load NESN to be added to your server’s Autoexec.ncf file. If you add the commands by selecting Change The Autoexec.ncf File radio button, NESN will load automatically every time you reboot your server. If you leave the default choice of Do Not Change The Autoexec.ncf File, you’ll need to manually start NESN when you restart your server. Make your selection and then click Next.

You’ll then see the Start Copying Files screen appear. This screen summarizes all of your selections so far in the wizard. Make sure the information is correct. If you need to change something, click the Back button to work your way back through the screens until you get to the place you want to change. Make the change and then continue forward to this screen again. If everything is correct, click Next to start the copy process.

You’ll then see a traditional Setup screen appear that copies the files to your NetWare server. The amount of time it takes to copy the files will depend on several factors, including the speed of your server and network connection. Just wait until the copy is 100 percent complete.

When it’s done, you’ll see the Setup Complete screen. You’ll notice that the View README and Launch Server check boxes are selected. Leave them as they are and click Finish. You’ll then see the NESN README file appear. Read through it to see any last minute updates Novell may have included. Meanwhile, NESN will load on your server.

Administering NESN
After you’ve installed NESN, you can tailor it to meet the needs of your organization. Launch a Web browser on your administrative workstation and enter the Web server’s URL along with the admin port in the format described above. When you do, you’ll see the Netscape Server Administration screen, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
You administer NESN using your Web browser.

If for some reason the Netscape Server Administration screen doesn’t appear, check your server to ensure that NESN loaded. To do so, press [Alt][Esc] at the server prompt and look for the Novonyx Administration Server menu choice. If it’s not there, you may have to start NESN manually by typing nsweb at your server’s console prompt and pressing [Enter].

If the choice is there, you may have a TCP/IP problem. Try pinging your server to get a response. You may need to modify your server’s TCP/IP parameters in Inetcfg to straighten things out.

Using the Netscape Server Administration screen is very simple. It’s very similar to the NetWare Web Manager discussed in the Daily Drill Down “Weave your way through basic administration tasks with the NetWare Web Manager,” so I won’t go into detail about it here. Most of the choices you’ll find in Web Manager will be identical to what you’ll find in the Netscape Server Administration program. Anything missing, such as WebDAV State under the Web Publishing tabs or OBDC Data Sources under the Programs tab, isn’t supported, so you don’t have to worry about it.

If you’re running an older version of NetWare, take heart. You’re not stuck with the Web browsers that shipped with them. Novell has provided the Netscape Enterprise Server For NetWare as an upgrade path for NetWare 4.11/4.2, NetWare 5, and intraNetWare users. Download it and install it, and you’ll be able to use your older NetWare servers to serve Web pages in no time at all.