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IBM Ethernet RPL

hage1 asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I installed an Olicom 10/100 ethernet card in a 3.12 server.  It is bound to IPX, 802.2, and RPL.  My workstations have IBM ethernet cards with IBM boot PROMs.  I have no trouble booting with a boot disk.  However, remote diskless booting does not work.  I get a counter in the middle of the screen.  There is a file that came with the ethernet cards that I do not know what to do with.  It is RPLBOOT.COM  The documentation says little about remote boot, and nothing about this file.
                       Bob Hage
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I. Introduction
     The first step in troubleshooting Remote Program Load (RPL) or Remote Boot workstations is to determine if RPL boot PROMs or Remote Boot
     boot PROMS are being used. The differences between the two technologies are significant and it is important to definitively understand which is
     being used when installing and troubleshooting diskless workstations.

     It is relatively simple to determine which type of PROMs are being used if one knows what to look for. If Novell PROMs are being used check
     the copyright message displayed when the workstation initiates the boot sequence. RPL boot PROMs will use a message similar to "Novell
     Netware RPL Generic Bootstrap program vX.XX (yymmdd)". Remote Boot PROMs will display a copyright similar to "Novell Netware Remote
     Program Loader". If PROMs from other venders are being used check with the vender to verify what type of PROMs are being used. When a
     server cannot be found on the network, workstations with RPL boot PROMs will have an incrementing request counter showing in the top left
     corner of the screen. Remote Boot PROMs will return a message "Error finding server". (This can be tested by unplugging the network interface
     card from the network) These differences and others are detailed in table 1. .

     In order to effectively understand the troubleshooting steps for RPL and Remote Boot, it is important to understand the differences between the
     two methods. For Remote Boot workstations, all the code necessary for the workstation to get connected to the server and download the image
     file is burned into the PROM on the NIC card. Thus it is impossible to update this process without replacing the PROM itself. When powered on,
     the workstation sends out a get nearest server packet and makes a connection to the first server that responds. For Ethernet networks this is
     done using the Ethernet_802.3, the most common, or Ethernet_II frame type. Which frame type will be used depends on the PROM code itself. All
     servers with the proper frame types loaded and bound will respond to the workstations connection request. Once the workstation is connected it
     will look for a general image file, NET$DOS.SYS, or a specific image file as indicated in the BOOTCONF.SYS file (For more information on
     BOOTCONF.SYS files see 'Workstation for DOS and Windows' chapter 9 or RPLNLM.DOC from RPLKT4.EXE in CIS:NWOSFILES or
     http://support.novell.com). The image file is then downloaded to the workstation, the workstation reboots to the image file and is then ready to
     make a normal connection to the network.

     Unlike Remote Boot, RPL PROMs do not have all the code necessary to get connected to the network. This code is contained in the *.RPL file
     (ETHER.RPL, TOKEN.RPL etc.) on the server. Thus, in contrast to replacing the PROM, the boot process can be updated by simply updating the
     RPL files. The latest RPL files can be found on CompuServe in the file RPLKT4.EXE (located in CIS:NWOSFILES or http://support.novell.com).

     The information in these files is made available to the workstations by loading and binding the RPL.NLM at the server. When the workstation is
     powered on, a Find First Frame packet is sent over the network. Only servers with the RPL.NLM loaded and bound will respond to this packet.
     The server will send the RPL information to the workstation, which will then use the RPL instructions to make a new connection to that server
     and look for the image file. For Ethernet networks this connection is made with the Ethernet_802.2 or Ethernet_II frame type. The frame type to
     be used is determined by the FRAME=<frame type> parameter when binding RPL to the NIC board in the server. If no frame type is specified the
     default Ethernet_802.2 will be used. After the workstation makes the initial connection to the server and obtains the RPL code, it will reattach and
     look for the appropriate image file. After the image file is obtained, the workstation will reboot to the image and is then ready to make a normal
     connection to the network.

     Whether using RPL or Remote Boot, once the workstation has booted to the image file the ODI drivers can be loaded to establish the network
     connection. These drivers can be loaded at the command line or included in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. It is important to remember however, that
     immediately upon loading the NETX.EXE or VLM.EXE files and establishing a connection to a NetWare server, the image file is discarded and
     the A: drive will once again reference the local floppy drive if one is available. This means that the boot image file is no longer available to be
     read and anything listed in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file after NETX.EXE or VLM.EXE will not be executed unless the AUTOEXEC.BAT file being
     referenced is also placed in the LOGIN subdirectory along with the actual files being called in the AUTOEXEC.BAT.

     If a workstation is having trouble connecting to the network using remote boot PROMs there are some basic trouble shooting steps that should
     be followed for both types of PROMs and some troubleshooting steps that are PROM specific.

     II. Basic Troubleshooting for RPL and Remote Boot PROMs
     1. Verify that the diskette used for the image file will allow the workstation to boot up and establish a network connection. NOTE: The image
     diskette AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS must not load any software that is not available on that diskette.

     2. When creating the image file for the server use the latest DOSGEN 08/05/93 from RPLKT4.EXE (current filename on 1-22-98). This file can be
     found at http://support.novell.com or on CompuServe in NWOSFILES (GO NWOSFILES).

     3. Use the default configuration for the NIC to eliminate configuration problems in the NET.CFG.

     4. Make sure that the drivers (ODI and MLID) in the image file are current.

     5. Make the AUTOEXEC.BAT file as simple as possible or try using no AUTOEXEC.BAT file. An example may be:
             PROMPT $P$G
             PATH = a:\dos;a:\nwclient
             RPLODI (only with Remote Boot Prom)
             MLID (i.e. NE2000)
             VLM (or NETX)
        NOTE: The RPLODI.COM driver needs to be in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file for Remote Boot workstations using the ODI drivers.

     6. Use a minimal CONFIG.SYS. Make sure that the LASTDRIVE statement is correct for VLM.EXE or NETX.EXE depending on which is being used.

     7. Make sure that a copy of the AUTOEXEC.BAT and other batch files contained in the image file are also placed in the \LOGIN subdirectory.
     After the workstation loads the image file and makes an attachment to a file server the image file is no longer available to the workstation.
     From that point on the workstation will reference the AUTOEXEC.BAT file located in the \LOGIN subdirectory.

     8. If there are multiple workstations that need individual image files create a BOOTCONF.SYS file as detailed in the Workstation for DOS and
     Windows manual and RPLNLM.DOC. With RPL the user can be prompted to choose one of up to ten different image files for the boot process.

     III. Remote Boot Troubleshooting Steps
     1. If the image file is created using DOS 5.0 or greater it is necessary to run RPLFIX.EXE on the image file. The size of the DOS kernal increased
     with version 5.0 and RPLFIX modifies the image file so that the larger DOS kernal will not be truncated and can load successfully. If RPLFIX is
     not used the workstation will hang while booting the image file.

     2. >> MOST << remote Boot workstations using the ODI drivers require that the RPLODI.COM driver be loaded in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. It must
     be loaded immediately after the LSL.COM driver.

     3. Make sure that the server has the proper frame type, Ethernet_802.3 or Ethernet_II, loaded and bound at the server.

     4. If different workstations require different image files, create a BOOTCONF.SYS file to assign node addresses to specific image files.

     5. Make sure the workstations network address speicified in the BOOTCONF.SYS file is for a 802.3 network as that is the frame type that Remote
     Boot cards use to make the initial server attachment.

     IV. RPL Troubleshooting Steps
     1. Make sure that the appropriate *.RPL file(i.e. ETHER.RPL or TOKEN.RPL) is in the \LOGIN subdirectory of each server that will load RPL.NLM.

     2. Load the latest .LAN driver on the server. Verify that IPX is bound to the driver. Load the updated RPL.NLM and bind it to the correct NIC in the
     server. These steps can be verified by doing a CONFIG at the server.

     3. Make sure that the appropriate frame type is loaded and bound at the server. Unless a different frame type is specified when binding the RPL
     protocol, the Ethernet_802.2 frame type will be used.

     4. If doing RPL across a router refer to document TID12284 for specific considerations. This document may be found on the NSEPro or

     5. Do not put RPLODI.COM in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

     6. If doing RPL to a SFT III 3.11 server, bind RPL to the server board with the Get Nearest Server (GNS) option (See TID500525). BIND RPL TO
     <board name> GNS

     7. When binding RPL at the server there are a number of optional parameters that may pertain to the situation being addressed. For further
     information regarding these parameters refer to the RPLNLM.DOC file in RPLKT4.EXE (current filename on 1-22-98).

     8. If there are multiple workstations that need individual image files, create a BOOTCONF.SYS file as detailed in Workstation for DOS and
     Windows and RPLNLM.DOC. With RPL the user can be prompted to choose one of up to ten different image files for the boot process.

     9. Make sure that the workstation network address in the BOOTCONF.SYS file is for a 802.2 network as that is the frame type that RPL
     workstations will use to obtain the image file from the server.

     V. Common Symptoms and Problems

     Symptom: The workstation is turned on and displays a "error finding server" message and hangs.
     Possible Cause: The workstation is using remote boot to connect to the server with the boot image file and the file server is not responding.
     Remote boot will use Ethernet 802.3 frame type. Make sure that at least one server has the 802.3 frame type and that the boot image file is in
     the \LOGIN directory of that server.

     Symptom: The workstation shows an incrementing number in the top left corner of the screen.
     Possible Cause: The workstation is using RPL but is unable to get a server to respond to the 'find first' frame. Make sure that the server with the
     image files has RPL.NLM loaded and bound to the 802.2 frame type. Make sure that the proper *.RPL files are in the LOGIN subdirectory.

     Symptom: The workstation hangs with the message "Loading MS-DOS".
     Cause: The boot image was created with DOS v5.0+ but RPLFIX was not used. Run RPLFIX against the image file.

     Symptom: The workstation hangs while loading the network drivers from the image file.
     Possible cause: The workstation may be using remote boot but the RPLODI.COM driver was not included in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. For remote
     boot workstations the RPLODI.COM driver must be loaded directly after LSL.COM in the AUTOEXEC.BAT.

     Symptom: Workstation is getting the message "Error opening image file" or "Unable to open image file".
     Possible Cause: The workstation is unable to find the image file. Make sure that the NET$DOS.SYS file is in the LOGIN subdirectory. If there are
     multiple image files and a BOOTCONF.SYS file make sure that the BOOTCONF.SYS file does not have any errors and the workstations network
     and node address are correct. Also do not omit the leading zeros of the network and node addresses. Use the entire address. If booting across
     routers make sure that the router is responding to the workstations requests with the address of a server that has the image files.

     Symptom: Error Reading Boot Disk Image File.
     Possible Cause: Command.com cannot be found, TID2907559 ""A drive" Command.com not found RPL"
     Possible Cause: The protocol must be followed in the below table.

                               Quick Comparison of RPL and Remote Boot

     Comparison Remote Program Load(RPL) Remote Boot (Prom)
     Copyright Message 'Novell Netware RPL Generic 'Novell Netware Remote
                                        Bootstrap program vX.XX Program Loader'
     With DOS v5.0+ No RPLFIX Use RPLFIX
     Initial Frame Type Ethernet_802.2 Ethernet_802.3
     Boot Code Update Update *.RPL files and Insert a updated boot PROM.
     Boot Images BOOTCONF.SYS can list 10 BOOTCONF.SYS can
                                      files in a pick list to user. specify a specific image file.
     Server Support Needs RPL.NLM loaded and Requires only the boot image
                                      bound. Boot images and files in the \LOGIN
                                      *.RPL files must be in the subdirectory. All servers that
                                      \LOGIN directory. Only are available will respond.
                                      servers with RPL.NLM will
     Workstation No RPLODI.COM Requires RPLODI.COM
     No Server Incrementing request counter "error finding server"
     Response in top left corner. message.
                                                             Table 1
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