by January 5, 2000 0 comments

Though this is only a 0.1
upgrade in version, the result actually contains lots of new features. The
latest release of NetWare bundles a lot of goodies, most of which are aimed
at smoother administration and better Internet connectivity. For smoother
administration, the operating system now has a browser-based management
tool. Better Net connectivity is achieved through lots of bundled software,
and some new features.

We received an evaluation set
consisting of five CDs which had the OS, online documentation, Oracle 8i
with a five-user license, and IBM WebSphere. One of the CDs has complete
online documentation for the OS.

The operating system uses a
Java-based program called the NetWare Deployment Manager to help you prepare
your network and servers for installing NetWare 5.1. Though we used a PII
client machine, the CD took a while to load and perform its operations, but
the information provided was good. It clearly lists the steps that you
should perform to either install or upgrade to NetWare 5.1.

Memory requirements have gone
up, and NetWare 5.1 recommends that you upgrade to at least 128 MB for basic
installation. Requirements are even higher if you plan to use the other
applications bundled with it. Installation is easy, except that you need to
load DOS drivers for the CD-drive on your NetWare server. The rest is a
breeze. It automatically detects all hardware devices on your server and
loads the necessary drivers. The initial installation uses the typical
NetWare command line blue-colored interface, but the rest is GUI-based.

The server has a lot of new
components to select during the installation. By default, it installs Novell
Distributed Print Services, the NetWare Enterprise Web server, and an FTP
server. Additional components include a news server, and IBM WebSphere Web
application deployment server that requires at least 256 MB RAM. It also
includes a NetWare Web search component for indexing of Web data, and DNS
and DHCP services. There’s the Novell Internet Access Server for remote
connectivity, and a WAN traffic manager. The next component is an
interesting one. It’s called the Multimedia server, and lets you place
audio/video files on your NetWare server for access through a browser. More
on this later.

All components are configured
during installation itself. It assigns port numbers to all your intranet
services ports like 80 for the default Web server, 443 for the secure Web
server, 119 for the news server, etc.

DNS and DHCP services are
bundled together and managed through a separate management console that you
need to set up. The console can also be invoked through the NetWare
Administrator utility, and is pretty extensive, with a lot of configuration
options. Unfortunately, the help files in the DNS/DHCP management console
are not as detailed. For example, they don’t mention which module to load
at the server console for enabling a particular service. An option to load
or unload these modules from the management console itself would also make
life much easier. NetWare 5.1 supports Dynamic DNS. This allows automatic
updating of A records and pointer records—two important DNS parameters—for
IP address ranges, predefined by the administrator. In regular DNS systems,
these parameters had to be manually updated, which would often cause
configuration errors. Dynamic DNS takes care of this. Similarly, the DHCP
service in NetWare allows you to specify multiple IP address pool ranges and
subnet masks.

We now come to the really
neat part of NetWare 5.1—its multimedia server. You can store audio/video
files in a specific directory on your NetWare server, which all users can
access from their machines. It supports all the popular file formats
including WAV, MP3, and Real Video, and uses the Real Time Streaming
Protocol (RTSP) to stream audio/video over the network. So you’ll need a
player that supports this protocol at the client end. Currently, Real Player
from Real Networks supports this, and can be freely downloaded from their
Website at www.real.com. Obviously, the
performance of the server depends on the traffic on your network and the
number of clients accessing it. From the server end, you can regulate data
being streamed to a client, and control the number of clients that can login
simultaneously.

The FTP server works with the NDS and works
very well. You can control FTP access at container level or user level. So
for example, you can control access by a complete group, or to specific
users. It also has some really good security features. For example, if a
user tries to login with an incorrect password more than once, he gets
marked.

The Web Manager feature in
NetWare 5.1 is also good. It lets you manage most of the new services in
NetWare through a Web browser. This includes the NetWare Enterprise Web
server, news, FTP, and multimedia servers. Besides these, you can also
configure the NetWare Management Portal, and even the Novell Directory
Services. The interface is easy to use, and allows most of the configuration
options. In case of NDS, you can view all the users and groups on your
network, create and delete users, change passwords, etc. It works over a
secure connection and a different port number, so you have to use HTTPS
instead of HTTP in your Web browser to access this. Access is restricted by
username and password.

Two things that we couldn’t
check out were Oracle 8i and IBM WebSphere server. You need at least 512 MB
of RAM on the server to be able to put these into action. Overall, 5.1 is
more than a small upgrade, and offers a lot of new features, making it a
good choice for intranets and for deploying Web applications.

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