Networks

The basics of Novell Netware 4.11

What is Novell Netware 4.11?

NetWare is a client/server based network operating system (NOS) for linking computers with a central resource consisting of central disk storage, print sharing and other services.

To access the central resource, there are client programs that run on a DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows NT, Macintosh, or OS/2 workstation, and a server program that runs on the central resource (i.e., the computer/server providing the resources) which allows it to communicate with the client programs.

Computers running UNIX can also be accommodated when 3rd party utilities are employed.

The Netware Directory Service (NDS)

The fundamental network service provided by Netware 4.11 is a database of information known as "The Directory". In more technical terms, this is also called the Netware Directory Service (NDS). Similar to a phone book, NDS is the fundamental place where all shared resources on the network such as a shared printer are presented to clients.

Imagine NDS as you software network manager overseeing the entire network resource sharing process. It does practically all the checking and authentication for a client before access to network resources are given.

How does Netware provide access to network resources?

What the client does is send a request with his/her computer to access a particular shared resource on the network. This could be a shared printer or another client's computer. Netware 4.11 then checks the request by locating it in its database of information about the entire network resource. If the resource is found, Netware 4.11 determines whether the client has appropriate permissions to access the resource, then goes ahead and provides the access to the client.

How are network resources organised?

To understand how network resources are organised in Netware 4.11, you will need to understand the three fundamental components making up NDS:

  1. Objects

    These are the network resources that the clients may wish to access. They appear on the client's computer as an upside-down tree-like structure known as the Directory Tree.

  2. Properties

    For each object that appears in the Directory Tree, there will be properties associated with it. Properties include items such as the name, title, location, department, password, etc.

  3. Values

    For each property lies a value. For example if "Name" is a property, then Michael Smith would be the value of that property.

Now a typical Novell network can have multiple directory trees. Each directory tree within a Novell network can be considered a sub-network. Every directory tree can only have one root object. This will appear at the top of the directory. Think of the root object as similar to the letter you may have to specify in DOS when choosing the appropriate drive (e.g. C:\).

The root object is also called a "container" because it holds the names of other objects inside (which has been extracted by Netware 4.11 and presented as a tree-like structure).

There can be any number of containers below the root object. These objects will have properties of their own which can be modified, moved, deleted or renamed. The only object in the Novell network which cannot have its properties changed is the root object. In fact, the root object has no properties to be set.

Think of containers as like the branches of the tree. They can create mini-networks within the main Novell network.

There are 3 types of container objects:

  1. The country object

    This object organizes the directory displayed below it by valid 2 digit country codes. This is useful for some people who want to separate network resources according to the country they are located.

  2. Organization object

    This object represents an organization such as a company.

  3. Organizational Unit object

    This type of container usually appears below the organisation object and is designed to organize objects by subunits such as departments in a company.

Finally, as in all Novell networks, there must be leaf objects. These are the end of the branches of the tree showing the actual network resources available to clients.

How to access network resources

To access network resources in Novell Netware 4.11, a client must first know the name of the object (known as Common Name or CN) and the location of the object in the network (known as Context or path from the object up to the root).

The context is specified in the following format:

OU=XXX.O=YYY

where OU is the organizational unit object whose name is "XXX" and O is the Organization object whose name is "YYY".

And then to access the network resource, you add the name of the leaf object such as "name" to the front of the context like so,

name.OU=XXX.O=YYY

Hence the Common Name (CN) of the object you want to access is:

.CN=name.OU=XXX.O=YYY

For example, suppose the leaf object you want to access in the Novell network just happens to have the name "JasonS". Now a look through the tree directory will tell us this object is located in the Organisational Unit object named "sales" and is a subdirectory of the Organisation object named "Microsoft". To access the network resources of "JasonS", we type into Netware 4.11 the following pathway:

.CN=JasonS.OU=Sales.O=Microsoft

Once you understand this concept, will you be able to access network resources from a DOS prompt on a client workstation running the Netware 4.11 software.

How is a Novell network created?

You'll need a special software application utility called Netware Administrator (NWADMIN) to achieve this important task. Your local friendly network administrator will have access to this utility. With NWADMIN, you can create the most sophisticated or simplest network you can imagine from a remote location using a client workstation or other server.

The process of creating a network using NWADMIN involves nothing more than creating new objects and containers and specifying the values for the properties of each object (except the root object) such as the password, permission rights and other information. Then the objects can be moved around and stored inside the appropriate containers to create the final network structure.

The network structure shown in NWADMIN is not unlike your Windows Explorer software. For instance, folders in Windows Explorer will appear as containers in NWADMIN. And files in Windows Explorer will appear as leaf objects in NWADMIN. As expected, the root object will always be at the top of the directory structure.

How do you access the properties for each object? Simple. Just double-click on the object you see in the directory structure shown by NWADMIN. And depending on your permission rights, you should be able to make changes to the values of properties shown.

Client connectivity

As for the clients themselves who want to be connected to the network, there is one final piece of software needed to access the complete network resources. It is called Client32. Microsoft does have its own solution for Netware Connectivity built into the Windows operating system. But for complete access, Client32 is the preferred software tool for clients.

When Client32 is installed and launched, the client will be shown the Novell NetWare Login window. Type the username (the same as the name of the object created by the network administrator with NWADMIN and should appear in NDS) and the password. If the object's name is located in NDS and the password is found to be correct, the client will open a channel to the network resources.

To actually access and use these network resources (e.g. printing to the network printer), double-click the Network Neighborhood icon inside the "My Computer" icon on the PC desktop and select your network resources. Once the resources have been selected, you can immediately use the resources from your computer.

But because the Netware directory can be potentially large and may cause confusion for some clients, it may be easier to see a specific portion of the directory instead. This is where the Connection tab in Client 32 comes into the picture. By clicking on the Connection tab, you (or the network administrator) can specify the tree (i.e. root object name), the server (where the root object is located), and the context.

Once the information has been entered in the Connection tab section, you will always be shown the network resources associated within a given context, tree and server when double-clicking on the Network Neighborhood icon.

Client32 is suitable for accessing network resources administered by Netware versions 2.x, 3.x and 4.x. So you will not be restricted to network resources created by Netware 4.11. Client32 is backward compatible to earlier versions of Novell Netware.

That is the essential knowledge behind Novell Netware 4.11!

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