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AFP and CIFS Protocol Support in OES 2 Support Pack 1

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With this support pack, adding new AFP volumes is more administrator- and user-friendly as well. When you added a new AFP volume on NetWare, your AFP users would lose their connections during the process, interrupting their work and forcing them to reauthenticate. But user connections will stay intact when you add a new AFP volume on Linux. Users will simply need to do a refresh in order to see the new volume.

If you set storage quota limits for your users, the AFP support on Linux is more conducive than what you have likely experienced on NetWare. Since AFP version 3.1 does not support user quota limits, when Mac users who had exceeded their storage quotas on a NetWare volume tried to save a new file, the file would not be saved and no explanatory message would be given. This could cause significant heartburn for users who thought they had saved a file, but couldn’t find it when they later wanted to open it.

While the AFP protocol support in this support pack is based on AFP version 3.1, which still does not support user quota limits, Novell has added the ability to have an alert notify users when they are trying to save a file and have exceeded their quota limit. Additionally, Novell plans to support AFP version 3.2 in a future support pack. This will deliver support for user quota limits, as well as a number of other new capabilities that will be inherited by Mac users in Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 environments running Linux.

For organizations planning to move from NetWare to Linux on Novell Open Enterprise Server 2, the AFP and CIFS support in Support Pack 1 delivers an unexpected benefit that can significantly simplify migration efforts. Prior to this support pack, migrating to Linux meant you had to Linux-enable (also known as LUM-enable, since the procedure uses the Linux User Management service) every Samba user in order to transfer their rights from the NetWare environment to the Linux environment. When you have thousands of Samba users, this can be quite a daunting task. Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 Support Pack 1 eliminates the need to LUM enable users (though you can still do so if you choose), making migration from NetWare to Linux even easier.

What You Need to Know

Aside from superior performance and the other enhancements we’ve discussed, the new protocol support on Linux is similar to what AFP and CIFS users experienced on NetWare. Accessing a Linux server from a Windows client will have the same look and feel as if you were accessing a NetWare server. Novell eDirectory integration is basically the same for both clients. Both clients support Novell Cluster Services. And the NetWare command sets you’ve used for these protocols are basically the same on Linux.

Be aware that there are a few differences in this release. First, there is no support for cross-platform file locking between CIFS and AFP, or between CIFS and NetWare Core Protocol. Novell plans to add cross-platform file locking support in a future support pack, but for now you should avoid shared volumes that CIFS users, Mac users and NetWare Core Protocol users can access. Ignoring this recommendation increases the potential for file corruption. Even though cross-platform file locking is not supported between CIFS and AFP, file locking is supported between AFP and NetWare Core Protocol. So you can enable file sharing between native Mac users and Novell client users.

By default, both CIFS and AFP support Novell Storage Services. In fact, both protocols are tightly integrated with Novell Storage Services for permissions, trustee rights, quotas, long namespaces and other Novell Storage Services rights management capabilities. In future support packs, Novell plans to provide AFP and CIFS support for other Linux file systems, including ext3, XFS and JFS.

Specific to Mac users, AFP support for this release is limited to Mac OS versions 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5 with only limited support for Mac OS 10.5, because it leverages a lot of the features of AFP v3.2. When Novell adds support for AFP v3.2 in a future support pack, it will automatically inherit the ability to support those features as well.

On the Windows side, CIFS users will only be able to print using iPrint. Also, if you’re looking to take advantage of a CIFS volume on Linux as a Domain Emulator, you’ll need to wait at least until the next support pack, which promises to provide that support. And one last important note: because CIFS and Samba share the same port, you have to choose between CIFS and Samba for native client access.

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You can’t have them both running at the same time.

Enhanced Interoperability

Novell Open Enterprise Server 2 provided an excellent transition point from NetWare to Linux, and the new support pack makes that transition even easier with its protocol support for both CIFS and AFP native client access. Not only does it match, and often exceed, performance and scalability for native Mac and Windows access, but it adds functionality those clients wouldn’t otherwise have. In other words, not only does Open Enterprise Server 2 enable interoperability, it enhances it.

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