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The Pureness of IP, and how really Icky IPX Can Be

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Lindsey Johnstone

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Posted: 15 Nov 2001

One of the issues that we as Administrators have had to face was supporting multiple protocols within our environments. For most of us, particularly us in government, this has meant that we have had both IP and IPX running around our networks so we can support those lovely, legacy applications that require a bindery connection.

Normally, this is not a problem, as we have read the information (or attended the sessions at BrainShare) from Laura Chappell, The Twinkie Lady ( or The Dynamic Duo of NDS Troubleshooting, Peter Kuo ( and Jim Henderson ( where they advise how to make these two protocols coexist within your network in a nice, harmonic way.

Well, that's if you attend their sessions, or read their books. The rest of us wander around in the darkness, doing what makes sense, or seems the most logical. (You can guess what happens when you start applying logic within an agency .... <g>) When we talk to our infrastructure support folks, it's mostly about baseball, football or the latest agency gossip. Rarely do we get the chance to "talk turkey" about the concepts and policies of proper implementation of the correct protocol within the network. Nor do we think that somehow the network could be affected by installing a new printer supported by a JetDirect card. Why are these things important?

There is a big nasty out there, just waiting to pounce, if you are not careful. The nasty is called 802.3, a Frankenstein if there ever was one. And one of Frankenstein's creators, Bob Ross, is the first to tell you that if you find it on your network, get rid of it. Why? Rather than get into a long dissertation of the whys and why nots, I will suffice it to say, (from Bob's session at BS2001) that when the Novell team tried to, uh, create an alternative to 802.2, they were able to figure it all out except for a small 2K section, so they filled that section with all F's. That section in 802.2 is called checksum. <g>

What's does 802.3 do that is so nasty? Didja ever have a perfectly good, working workstation that was all zippy and happy, and quite suddenly, it's about as speedy as a brick sliding up a hill covered in molasses? You now have a real slug on your hands, a very disgruntled user and a machine whose network properties all "look good".

That JetDirect card installs 802.3 by default when you tell it that you are using a Novell network, and if you don't know the difference, you can specify 802.3 during the install of either the network client or server software. And our good friend Windows 98, if left set to automatic on the IPX protocol, will set as 802.3, if it is present on the network.

A good stop for all Admins is Novell's Product Documentation "Novell Client for Windows", which can be found at: where the individual settings are discussed and explained. Until the day when we are all pure IP, and IPX is a thing of the past, or we have all gone native file access, dot your "i's" and cross your "t's" so you can avoid that "icky" kind of IPX.

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