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Installing the First NW6 Server in a Mixed Tree - The Long Version

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Winston Castle

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Posted: 17 Apr 2003

Looking for advice about installing the first NetWare 6 server in a mixed tree? Here are some great tips from one who knows.


Originally this article was written as a quick 'Heads Up'. The note was written around my experiences with customers putting NetWare 6 into an existing tree of either NetWare 4.11 or NetWare 5.0. Customer Goal: a fully supported and up-to-date Novell NetWare platform.

The customers were using the Standby service from Novell Technical Services (NTS) where they buy four hour-blocks of time of a Primary Support Engineer (PSE). The PSE goes over the customer's plan, helps him or her out with details and advice on getting the network patched and Health Checked, with a good layout of replicas and a test dial-in to see all is ready. Then on the night of the event, the PSE is ready to dial-in and he/she is fully aware of all the customer's issues if anything goes wrong.

My goal is not to have to dial-in, and to get that first server to work within 30 minutes. The rest of the time is used in checking all is well.

Required Reading

Make sure you do your homework before embarking on this project.


  • Get the workstations up to the latest NetWare client. (4.83 for NT4 Win2k XP etc.)
  • Health Check your tree. Resolve those obits and inhibit moves. Raise an incident and get NTS help if you need to.
  • Install the latest available service packs for the servers (e.g. NW4.11 NW4sp9, NW5.0 nw50sp6a and NW5.1 nw51SP5).
  • Upgrade to latest DS which, at the time of writing, was DS 6.17 for NW4.11. DS 7.60c and 8.83 for NW5.1.
  • You may have a problem with NW5.0 -- it may not take the latest versions of DS for NW 5.1.
  • You can either upgrade NW 5.0 as far as you can (one customer reported that DS 7.51a was as far as his NW5.0 servers could go. I have not tested this...) or upgrade NW5.0 to NW 5.1.
  • If you have a tree with NW5.1, ensure you upgrade to NICI 2.4.0 as a minimum (2.4.2 is the latest at time of writing).
  • Select a powerful new server designed to run NW6. Check this from
  • Install NW6 on this server from the latest NW6SP overlay CD-Rom available from and search for NW6SP to make sure it does what you want. Install all the NW6 options you will require and all the patches. When satisfied, create a server build document. Standardize on HDD NIC's etc. Specify sizes of C: drive and SYS: volume (I would suggest 2GB and 4GB respectively). The large C: drive allows you to take Coredumps easily if needed by NTS. Consider your volume/pool strategy from Design Issues below. Specify hardware, down to what slot you put extra cards in and IRQ settings. Test all the NW6 drivers. Disable unnecessary BIOS settings such as Wake on LAN if they exist. These options may be good for a w/s but quite inappropriate for a Novell Server. This is your TempTree.
  • Create a new server in your tree with the latest patches. Be sure you update OS, DS and third-party drivers. Use a machine similar to your TempTree server.
  • When the server has been in the tree a few days and is working well, put the Master of [Root] on this server. Do not use this server for anything else.
  • Create a TestTree which matches your server environment. Add one of your new hardware server builds to the TestTree.
    1. However build the new server to your latest existing OS version.
    2. Then do a dry run on the TestTree.
    3. Do a schema import from the TempTree.
    4. Upgrade a server to NW6 in the TestTree. Check your workstations can login to a tree with NW6 in it. This is your Temptree. Install all the NW6 options you will require.
  • Health Check your tree again. When the tree is in Good Health and you are at DDay-1, initiate a DS-change freeze. No server moves or installs, no DS object moves, re-names or deletions. Changing passwords and new users can be carried out. Note creating new users does NOT create obituaries.
  • Do the schema import from the NW6 TempTree. I like to do this a day or so before the Migration. That way, if there are any DS issues they are resolved before the migration and do not impact on the Critical Path.
  • When you upgrade your first server to NW6 (with just a copy of [Root] on it), be sure to use the latest NW6 overlay CD-ROM (NW6SP2 at time of writing) and apply post sp2 NSS patches etc.
  • Make sure you have a good Service Location Protocol plan in place if you are upgrading from NW5.0/NW5.1.
  • If upgrading from NW4.11/NW4.2, implement your SLP plan soon after you have introduced NW6 into the tree.
  • Get to pure NW6 DS rings ASAP (only the latest clients will work but see above. You already have the LATEST clients haven't you?)
  • A few customers have had issues when installing NW6, where they get 603 back link errors on servers post upgrade. This is because as we upgrade servers, we are adding the GUID attribute. The GUID attribute is also placed on external reference objects as well. NSS now uses the GUID to store the trustee assignments on the volume DET. The resolution is to put the Master of all replicas on an 8.6.2 server i.e. NW 5.1 or NW6.0. If you still have the issue after this, run a timestamp.

Design Issues

  • Cut down to the recommended tree design, i.e. One Master and two read/write replicas for each partition, keeping subordinate replicas to a minimum. A healthy, well-designed tree will be a lot easier to fix if anything goes wrong. With one customer, simply getting to three full replicas per partition resolved so many problems that a problematic tree with slow logins became very smooth and NW6 installed sweetly. Remember: Don't Span the WAN.
  • Weed out old slow servers or consolidate them as a part of the NW6 server migration process.
  • Generally if there is a choice you would put the Master on the server with the highest OS level.
  • NW6 is the first OS to allow for an NSS SYS: volume. So your first NW6 server, because it is an upgrade, will have a classic file system SYS. You may wish to change this later as it is recommended to have NSS for all volumes. You can consider using the upgrade step to upgrade SYS: to NSS or do a hardware upgrade.
  • The first NW6 server when you come from NW5.0 or NW4.11/4.2 will be the Certificate Server. This server should be one that will not be moved or changed in the tree for some time, as there are many issues with changing the Certificate Server. Having said that, after you have gotten a few NW6 servers in the tree and you want to get rid of the SYS classic file system, you could consider clearing down all the Certificate objects now and re-starting afresh before you have started to rely on certificates. A shortcut method to do this would be?
    1. Move the Master replica to another NW6 server.
    2. Remove the read/write from first NW6 server.
    3. Down the first NW6 server.
    4. Install a brand new NW6 server into the tree from scratch with an NSS SYS: volume. This will be your new Certificate Server! You can now bring up that first server again.
  • Upgrading to a new version of an OS is a fine time to make some changes to your file and directory structure. It is almost guaranteed that your directory and trustee structure will be overcomplicated. Use this time of change to simplify directory structures to the minimum required and add complexity only if the business shows it needs it.

    One method of doing this is to:
    1. Create new servers.
    2. Devise a new directory and trustee structure based on Business Need.
    3. Copy those files required from the old pre NW6 servers to the new areas.
    4. After testing the new setup, do a file refresh to get the latest changes.
    5. Then point users to the new NW6 servers and disable login to the old ones.
    When all is working well, archive the old moribund files and de-commission the old servers. I usually leave the old servers running for at least a couple of weeks. As far as possible I like to be able to have fall-back points in projects. I do not like points of no return in the critical path.
  • NW6 has volume pools. When repair work is required for a volume, all volumes in the pool have to be offlined and repaired. Large volumes can take a long time.
    Consider what data is vital for your business i.e. what do you need for Disaster Recovery (DR)? Then keep this data and apps on relatively small pools/volumes that can be backed up easily and all in one go, so if your core servers are struck down by a disaster you can get what your business needs up and running in very short order. Then with the CEO off your back you can get the rest of the environment going in a planned way. In other words, your upgrade to NW6 can also be a major plank in your DR strategy.
  • Utilise those big pools for less vital data.
  • If you do an across-the-wire migration for subsequent servers, be aware that the moving of data volumes can be very time-consuming. Consider using the Server Consolidation Utility.
  • For Business critical data and applications consider a Cluster Solution. Do bear in mind, however, that Clustered Servers will failover more often than a standalone server will ABEND. This is because of the much higher level of internal checking that goes on, and the higher uptimes demanded. Clustered nodes are also more sensitive to patching levels. Therefore the setting up of Clustered nodes is more expensive and it is important that at a software level the nodes are kept exactly the same.


  • Many customers want to upgrade from NW4.11 to NW6 onto a brand new box. This is a very good plan, however you may have problems finding old NW4.11 drivers for your new server.
  • When you bring a new NW6 server into the tree it will create a new Certificate Server if it cannot contact the existing Certificate Server. So ensure you have good connectivity and the Certificate Server is up and running when you upgrade or create new servers.
  • If you try the sneaky Create a New Certificate Server by downing the old one and bringing a new server into the tree trick, ensure you have NICI 2.4.0 on all your servers with multi values in w0. For 5.1 trees if you started with an earlier version of NICI and have already upgraded to NICI 2.4.0, you may have to re-install NICI 2.4.0 to get it to work.
  • Take care when you change server and/or volume names, that business critical macros do not all suddenly fail. Make sure macros go to drive letters, not a UNC (e.g. NOT \\server1\vol1\dir1\file1.xls BUT H:\dir1\file1.xls)
  • Go to and check you have the latest patches. Some of the files mentioned above may now be superceded. Check for beta patches as well. They can be found at . You may need them. Have copies of all the files you may need to hand. Do not rely on the net on the night if anything goes wrong.
  • Make two copies of your NW6 SP overlay CD. CDs do not always work.
  • Some applications and some Administrators put files into SYS:public so they are in the search path. Be aware of this and be ready to copy these to a more logical place on your new server if some critical apps stop working for some reason.
  • Be sure you have upgrades and licenses for all your server software, the most important being Anti-virus and Backup software.

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