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Novell's Linux Users Report Installation Glitches

Early Reports on Novell Nterprise Linux Services

  • September 22, 2003
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

In a series of Hot Lab sessions, Novell Users International has been delivering test drives of pre-beta Novell Nterprise Linux Services (NNLS) software, build 821. At the same time, other Novell customers are participating in a closed beta of later NNLS software. Users of both the pre-beta and beta versions have experienced some problems with installation.

Novell plans to add code from Ximian Inc. in time for a public beta of NNLS in November, but the Ximian technology won't be used for addressing the installation problems, Novell officials said today.

Nterprise Linux Services is Novell's first big step in meeting a pledge last spring to port the entire NetWare protocol stack to Linux, so that users can choose between the two operating systems.

As reported last week, Novell is delaying NNLS shipment until the end of this year, due to a decision to integrate distribution and management software from Ximian, a major Linux ISV acquired in early August.

The code will be specifically taken from Ximian's Red Carpet, a Linux installation and management product. Red Carpet is currently being sold commercially as part of Ximian Desktop, a Linux desktop environment in the same general category as KDE and GNU.

Novell officials today acknowledged some "issues" with LLNS installation, but denied that Red Carpet will be used for fixing these difficulties.

"The Red Carpet technology will not change the way that NNLS installs," maintained a Novell spokesperson. "The installation issues that we've seen in the beta thus far have been primarily on Linux distributions that are not at this time supported by Novell. Novell is actively looking at options to expand the breadth of Linux distributions that we support. The inclusion of Red Carpet will substantially improve the customer's ability to maintain NNLS after it has been installed."

For its part, Red Carpet is designed mainly for version control, system updating, and resolving conflicts between Linux packages. Red Carpet currently supports several major Linux distributions.

However, the pre-beta software delivered in recent test drives definitely "does not include Red Carpet code," according to a Novell spokesperson.

The test drives of the pre-beta NNLS, build 821 took place at PC Expo/TechXpo on September 17, 2002, as well as at the earlier Novell Brainshare-Europe in Barcelona, Spain, for instance.

At PC Expo last week, several dozen NetWare users worked with the pre-beta software. The users tried out functions that included NNLS installation, VMWare Workstation, NetMail, iManager, and Virtual Office. The SuSE Enterprise Server 8.0 distribution of Linux was used as the base system for the server in the lab. The client software--including the VMNet 1 adapter - was run on a Windows XP host machine.

When asked whether the students encountered any glitches, Ed Schlictenmyer, the course instructor, pointed only to LLNS installation.

"Several of (the users) took 30 minutes to install the software," recalled Schlictenmyer, a NetWare trainer from Cal Data.

Some users of both the beta and pre-beta NNLS software have also expressed unhappiness over installation. In the novell.community.brainshare Newsgroup, one user described the installation process he experienced during an earlier Hot Lab session as "riddled with inconsistencies."

"After about 25 minutes trying to install, the instructor says, 'It appears that the image sent over from our guys in Utah is the incorrect one. You will have to unistall everything and then run the install aga

In a posting to the NNLS Community Discussion Forum on August 12, a beta user reported glitches when installing the software on SuSE 8.2. The troubles persisted even after reinstallation, and even after Novell had certified that "networking was as it should be."

"As suggested by someone on the beta call (sorry, can't remember who), I reinstalled SuSE with minimum install selected. I had to then (load) some development packages and install the VMWare tools. I then added KDE. I got the same errors. -641 Tree name lookup failure followed by the NovLam LDAP port not starting, etc.," the beta user wrote on August 13.

Schlictenmyer, who taught the PC Expo session, described the interface to the pre-beta 821 build as largely graphical, containing only as much command line interface (CLI) functionality as Nterprise NetWare Services.

Specifically, users at PC Expo were supposed to get hands-on knowledge of VMware keystrokes and interface; Linux Services installation; configuring NetMail for SSL; implementing iManager to create new users; using iFolder from within Virtual Office; and sending mail to other users, also from Virtual Office.

The manual used in the hands-on lab also taught a number of commands. Most of these were used either inside VMWare Workstation or as part of NNLS installation. For some tasks, users followed a sequence that included both command line and GUI-based steps, or they were given a choice between command line and GUI methods.

"VMware Workstation works by enabling multiple operating systems and their applications to run concurrently on a single physical machine," the course manual explained. "These operating systems and applications are isolated in secure virtual machines that co-exist on a single piece of hardware. The VMware virtualization layer maps the physical hardware resources to the virtual machine's resources, so each virtual machine has its own CPU, memory, disks, I/O devices, etc."

To select a VM, participants were told to "click on it or press the appropriate Ctrl-Alt-Fx sequence displayed at the top right of the MS, in this example Ctrl-Alt-F4. Press Ctrl-Alt-Enter to switch to an active VM to Full Screen mode. Press Ctrl-Esc to release the cursor from a VM or to exit Full screen mode."

Activity icons at the bottom left of the VM represented, from left to fight, floppy, hard drive, CD-ROM, and NIC (network interface card).

Outside of VMWare Workstation and NNLS installation, the other functions tested were almost entirely Novell GUI-based. In Virtual Office, participants were supposed to use the Mozilla browser to log in as each user, send mail messages to all users, and transfer files to and from the iFolder file system. Optionally, they could start the GroupWare Client machine in order to use the iFolder for Windows client.

According to Tracy Thayne, Novell's director of solutions marketing, Novell's decision to add distribution and management code from Ximiam was driven mainly by the needs of long-time Linux users for more familiar distribution and management procedures.

Essentially, though, the emerging NNLS is geared toward users accustomed to NetWare products, said Thayne.

Meanwhile, also in online forums, some users have been asking Novell to support specific modes or versions of Linux's Samba file server in LLNS. Novell is beta testing Samba in various modes, wrote Novell's P. MacKay. As of mid-August, the supplied version was Samba 2.2.8a, which supports Samba in domain mode (PDC emulation).in for it to work' (typical, blame someone that's not here to defend him/herself)," the user wrote in a posting on September 9. "And even after the uninstall, the install still didn't work."

In a posting to the NNLS Community Discussion Forum on August 12, a beta user reported glitches when installing the software on SuSE 8.2. The troubles persisted even after reinstallation, and even after Novell had certified that "networking was as it should be."

"As suggested by someone on the beta call (sorry, can't remember who), I reinstalled SuSE with minimum install selected. I had to then (load) some development packages and install the VMWare tools. I then added KDE. I got the same errors. -641 Tree name lookup failure followed by the NovLam LDAP port not starting, etc.," the beta user wrote on August 13.

Schlictenmyer, who taught the PC Expo session, described the interface to the pre-beta 821 build as largely graphical, containing only as much command line interface (CLI) functionality as Nterprise NetWare Services.

Specifically, users at PC Expo were supposed to get hands-on knowledge of VMware keystrokes and interface; Linux Services installation; configuring NetMail for SSL; implementing iManager to create new users; using iFolder from within Virtual Office; and sending mail to other users, also from Virtual Office.

The manual used in the hands-on lab also taught a number of commands. Most of these were used either inside VMWare Workstation or as part of NNLS installation. For some tasks, users followed a sequence that included both command line and GUI-based steps, or they were given a choice between command line and GUI methods.

"VMware Workstation works by enabling multiple operating systems and their applications to run concurrently on a single physical machine," the course manual explained. "These operating systems and applications are isolated in secure virtual machines that co-exist on a single piece of hardware. The VMware virtualization layer maps the physical hardware resources to the virtual machine's resources, so each virtual machine has its own CPU, memory, disks, I/O devices, etc."

To select a VM, participants were told to "click on it or press the appropriate Ctrl-Alt-Fx sequence displayed at the top right of the MS, in this example Ctrl-Alt-F4. Press Ctrl-Alt-Enter to switch to an active VM to Full Screen mode. Press Ctrl-Esc to release the cursor from a VM or to exit Full screen mode."

Activity icons at the bottom left of the VM represented, from left to fight, floppy, hard drive, CD-ROM, and NIC (network interface card).

Outside of VMWare Workstation and NNLS installation, the other functions tested were almost entirely Novell GUI-based. In Virtual Office, participants were supposed to use the Mozilla browser to log in as each user, send mail messages to all users, and transfer files to and from the iFolder file system. Optionally, they could start the GroupWare Client machine in order to use the iFolder for Windows client.

According to Tracy Thayne, Novell's director of solutions marketing, Novell's decision to add distribution and management code from Ximiam was driven mainly by the needs of long-time Linux users for more familiar distribution and management procedures.

Essentially, though, the emerging NNLS is geared toward users accustomed to NetWare products, said Thayne.

Meanwhile, also in online forums, some users have been asking Novell to support specific modes or versions of Linux's Samba file server in LLNS. Novell is beta testing Samba in various modes, wrote Novell's P. MacKay. As of mid-August, the supplied version was Samba 2.2.8a, which supports Samba in domain mode (PDC emulation).

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