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Safe and Sane Server Patching

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Geoffrey Carman

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Posted: 24 Aug 2004

PROBLEM: Support Packs. The savior, and sometimes bane, of our existence as Server Admins.

You want to run the latest greatest, but you don't want to be the sucker at the bleeding edge, finding all the bugs the beta testers missed.

We ran into this recently, having to decide whether to upgrade our production 2 node NetWare 6 SP2 cluster to SP4 or SP5. Well, let's see, SP5 has been out, oh say two weeks. But SP4 is 6 months old, and you really should apply 6-8 patches after the SP4 patch. What to do?

SOLUTION: Our solution to the dilemma was SP4 + patches. But some patches have IPS install scripts. For others, the readme says, "Copy this file to SYS:JAVA\NWGFX\" or the like.

This can be a pain, since some paths are on C:\NWSERVER, so an IPS would be nice to do it for me. (Of course, in a cluster, accessing A: to copy from a disk drops the server into Real mode, and may cause a cluster failover. Downing the server, copying the files from a DOS client to the server is an option but takes too long.)

The trick is to realize how Novell packages Support Packs. For my patch set, I needed files added to sys:system, c:\nwserver, c:\nwserver\nls, c:\nwserver\nls\4, sys:\xtier, sys:\java\nwgfx.

So I made a new copy of the SP4 dir, all 355 Megs of it on the central server from which we do all patching, and in the nw6sp4e directory there are the following dirs:

  • STARTUP (Copy patch files to c:\nwserver to here, and there is an NLS and an NLS\4 subdir set in there.)
  • SYS (There is a SYSTEM, PUBLIC, ETC dir for files that have to go there.)
  • SYS\JAVA_INS (Which has the Java package ZIPped. So open in a WinZIP style program, and add the files that need to go there. Note: watch out for file paths; it is important that you maintain the correct paths. For me, I grabbed the folder JAVA\NWGFX\ with the file in it, unclicked the Store full file path option, and added it to the ZIP to replace the older version.)
  • PRODUCTS (These are the 'add on' bits beyond the core OS, like TCP, like ISTORAGE (Which is NetStorage, and has the XTIER zip file to add a patch to), NATIVEFS for NFAP, and so on.)

Once you do that, you can use this 'patched' SP4 to apply all the patches at once and save yourself a lot of time, instead of running a bunch of IPS files, and copying files by hand.

On a further side note, we do server-server patching, NWCONFIG, Products, View List, Insert product not listed, and the path is SERVER\VOLUME:\PATH\TO\IPS\FILE\FROM\PATCH

The patches I chose to apply were:

  • wsock6d
  • nwlib5d
  • tcp609a
  • nw56up4
  • nifif60postsp4
  • nwpaup4

If you have any questions you may contact Geoffrey at

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