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Getting to the DOS Partition before the Server Loads

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Kenneth Lobo

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Posted: 10 Dec 2004

PROBLEM: You need to get to the DOS partition of the Server before the Server loads. However it's not too convenient to press F8 at the right time to interrupt the boot sequence because if you miss it, it's too late and Server.exe loads and you have to down the server again.

SOLUTION: Here's a simple solution I created using a DOS batch file. You do need the DOS file 'CHOICE.COM' to be available in either the root of C:\ or in any other directory which appears in the PATH= command in the Autoexec.bat file on the DOS partition of the server. The Batch file may be named 'FILESERV.BAT' for example and it must be the last command entered in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file.


Autoexec.bat file commands (example):
Fileserv.bat commands:
@echo off
echo       1.  Start NetWare Server
echo       2.  Go to DOS
echo         If no choice is made in ten seconds,
echo         option 1. will default. 
choice /C:12   Choose an option /T:1,20
if errorlevel 2 goto Exit
if errorlevel 1 goto NetWare

cd Nwserver


The FILESERV.BAT file will display a text menu with the choices to load the Server or exit to DOS. If no choice is made in about ten seconds, then the Server will load automaticlly. You can increase or decrease this time by changing the last number in the line 'choice /C:12 Choose an option /T:1,20'. The 20 is supposed to be 20 seconds but it actually only lasts about 10 seconds (Hey, what do you expect? It's Microsoft DOS after all. You always get less than you expect). If you want to wait indefinitely until a choice is made manually, then get rid of the '/T:1, 20' switch.

I hope this helps someone out there.

If you have any questions you may contact Kenneth at

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