Windows NT Server Can Disguise Itself as a NetWare File and Print Server

Microsoft's File and Print Services for NetWare (FPNW) is a key component of its strategy for penetrating Novell's NetWare environments. Under this strategy, Windows NT Server can operate concurrently as a standard Microsoft server and as a NetWare file and print server. This allows existing NetWare 2.x and 3.x clients to access both the NT server and existing NetWare servers without making any changes in the client software.

FPNW is composed of three critical components:

  • NetWare file-server emulation--This component allows NT Server to emulate the file-serving portion of a NetWare server. Specific directories on the NT server can be mapped to the NetWare volumes.
  • NetWare print-server emulation--This component allows print originating from NetWare clients to be handled by the NT Server spooling system. The print-server component can also direct output to other NetWare print servers, enabling native NT Server clients to access NetWare printers.
  • Migration Tool for NetWare--This component performs a one-time migration of account and resource information from a NetWare server. It handles user, group, and resource information, as well as security settings and logon scripts. NetWare users can be added or changed through the standard NT Server User Manager tool. (You can purchase this tool separately.)

Microsoft's Directory Service Manager for NetWare provides functionality similar to that of the migration tool, but it also takes any changes made to the NetWare user information back to a NetWare server. (See the sidebar "Keep in Synch" for more information on the Directory Service Manager.)

In addition to these three components, FPNW includes extensions for the Windows NT File Manager, Print Manager, Server Manager, and User Manager for Domains. These extensions enable you to create and manage NetWare users and resources. The FPNW extensions are installed automatically on the server; you can install them on a workstation if you want to manage the information remotely.

Coexist or Conquer
You can use FPNW to create a coexistence environment where NetWare servers operate side-by-side with NT servers. You may have no choice but to coexist if you use mission-critical NetWare Loadable Modules (NLMs), which aren't supported by FPNW or any other equivalent product. You can, however, use FPNW to replace a NetWare server with an NT server. In this case, FPNW can migrate all the data from the NetWare server so you can shut it down.

The FPNW migration process has three steps:

  • Install FPNW as a "test" NetWare server--Don't let production users access it, but make sure it can be accessed from typical NetWare client configurations.
  • Use the migration tool to migrate the user/group information and copy all the volumes (including the files) from the production NetWare server.
  • Turn off the production NetWare server and reconfigure FPNW so it uses the name of that server and provides the same volume mount points.

When this process is complete, existing NetWare clients will boot up as usual, but they will access the NT server instead of the NetWare server. You can repeat this migration process for each of the NetWare servers on the network.

After you have migrated all the targeted NetWare servers to NT servers running FPNW, you can leave the existing NetWare clients alone, or you can slowly migrate them to the native NT Server client environment. Because the native services can operate over Novell's Internet Packet eXchange (IPX), no changes to the physical network are required--all routers, hubs, and intelligent bridges can remain in place.

In the Lab with FPNW
You install FPNW via the Network option on the Control Panel. FPNW is designed to operate only with Windows NT Server; versions are available for MIPS, Intel, Alpha, and PowerPC machines. The installation process is relatively straightforward. The system asks whether you want to install the full FPNW product or just the Administration Tools. The Administration Tools option allows an NT Workstation system to administer the FPNW environment on the server.

When you install the full FPNW product, the system asks how you want to balance performance against memory utilization (e.g., burn memory to gain performance, vice versa, or compromise), what name you assigned to your ersatz NetWare server, and where you want the default NetWare volume (SYS) stored. FPNW prefers that you use an NT file system (NTFS) disk for your NetWare volumes; if you don't, it can't provide the same level of security and access control that a true NetWare server would.

You must restart the NT server at the end of the FPNW installation process. After the restart, a new service is initiated (a single service handles both file and print operations); a new option is available on the Control Panel; and new choices (extensions) are available in the File Manager, Print Manager, Server Manager, and User Manager for Domains menus.

The Control Panel option for FPNW (see Screen 1) provides a simple way of monitoring and controlling the NetWare file and print services. You configure via the Network option on the Control Panel and through the File Manager, Print Manager, Server Manager, and User Manager for Domains extensions. Screen 2 shows the File Manager menu with the FPNW extension present.

Once the program was installed on the lab server, I fired up a NetWare client PC using only Novell-provided ODI/VLM client software from NetWare version 3.11. I had no other NetWare servers active on my LAN, so I configured the FPNW server to respond to initial server discovery messages. I had no difficulty in making a connection to the FPNW server--at least no more than I would have had if I had been attaching to a real NetWare server.

Microsoft includes its own version of the NetWare client commands normally located on the SYS volume of a NetWare server. These commands include login, logout, attach, setpass, map, slist, capture, and endcap. After my client attached to the FPNW server, I was able to use these commands to log on to the FPNW server. All things considered, FPNW had the look and feel of a garden-variety NetWare server.

The migration tool proved to be a little more troubling. First, there is no icon associated with it; you have to run it from the command line or from a File, Run dialog. Second, you must have NetWare client software installed on your NT system to use the Migration Tool. Unfortunately, NT Server doesn't support the NetWare client as a standard network configuration option, so you have to manually configure it. Or, you can run the Migration Tool on a Windows NT Workstation after you install the FPNW Administration Tools on that system and configure it for NetWare client support.

FPNW and the Beast
Microsoft has often publicly stated that it's not "going after" the installed base of NetWare servers and that it's happy with a coexistence role with NetWare. Certainly, FPNW provides that functionality. At the same time, you can see how FPNW can be used as a strategic tool to replace NetWare 2.x and 3.x servers with Windows NT Server systems. The ultimate appeal of FPNW is, like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder.

Contact Info
Microsoft * 206-882-8080
Novell * 800-453-1267