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Netware Dos Partition

Posted on 2003-04-01
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
This may sound like a dumb question, but its something that I have always wondered about. Why does Novell Netware require the use of a dos partition to boot from? I figured by now they would design a kernel that would boot from something native of NetWare instead of caldera dos (ms-dos) etc. Also, I was wondering if you could settle a bet, a fellow IT admin says that Novell recommends 1 mb of dos space for every 1 mb of ram. I thought that sounded a little crazy because of the fact you can have a server with 4 gbs of ram and only a dos partition of 2 gbs (the max size for a Fat16 partition). Everything I have read suggests to make the dos partition big enough for the boot files of NetWare and any other applications that may need to reside there (I make my partitions 500 mb regardless of the RAM of the server.). Can someone shed some insight on this and decided which one of us is right.

Thank you
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Question by:bizooga
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12 Comments
 
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by:
lpenrod earned 100 total points
ID: 8247435
I can only help you on the bet.  

The idea behind the DOS disk space is that if you do a memory dump, it is sent to the DOS partition (although, there are now utilities that allow you to send memory dumps elsewhere).  Also, the rule was you needed as much free DOS space as you have RAM plus 5 mb's.  Of course times have changed and now you can put tons of ram in the box.
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Assisted Solution

by:d50041
d50041 earned 100 total points
ID: 8247682
The install for NW6 limits the DOS partition to 1.5 GB.  Of course, that does not keep one from setting up the DOS partition other than in the INSTALL program.  In addition to the space for the core dump, you must also plan for SP installs and OS upgrades.  These days it makes sense to make the DOS partition fairly large.

The DOS boot also enables standard CD and HD drivers to allow for initial file copies and setup.
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Author Comment

by:bizooga
ID: 8248280
Ok I got another question....

Since Netware loads from a dos partition, is the Netware OS actually running "under dos" or what? If so, how does it manage memory?

Excuse my ignorance on these questions; I am a newbie on Netware.

Thanks,
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Expert Comment

by:d50041
ID: 8248609
Netware definitely does NOT run "under" DOS, it transfers control from DOS to Netware during the startup process.  Netware is its own, specific operating system and file management system. Netware's memory management is far more flexible and powerful than any Microsoft OS. In fact, many admins disable DOS with a console command to free memory.
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Expert Comment

by:jbog2
ID: 8252116
One advantage of the DOs boot is, that you can always check if your harddisk works fine. Also, certain drivers/nlm loaded from the DOS partition overrule the one's loaded from within Netware. This is nice if you need to test or backref some drivers/nlm's.
Otherwise, i agree it is not always obviuos  to get access to it
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Expert Comment

by:PsiCop
ID: 8261879
bizooga,

The size of the DOS partition is mostly driven by the space needed for the files that are put on it (primarily, the NetWare kernel (SERVER.EXE) and disk driver files needed at startup (basically, anything that loads in STARTUP.NCF). I've seen modern NetWare servers with DOS partitions under 100 MB - you don't even need a full-blown DOS install, just the two hidden files and COMMAND.COM, altho I usually put a full set of DOS on my servers just so I have all the utilities at my fingertips. By making the free (unused) space on the DOS partition equal to or greater than the RAM in the machine, you gain the ability to take core (memory) dumps to the HDD rather than to floppy (can you imagine a dump to 500 floppies?). Of course, given how reliable NetWare is this may not be something you're concerned with.

The proposition that NetWare "runs under DOS" is a misconception promoted by Micro$oft. DOS is used as a program loader to bootstrap the NetWare OS. Once the NetWare OS is loaded, however, DOS is no longer in control. The first MB of RAM on the machine is essentially frozen (preserved) in a static state and NetWare handles all file, memory and peripheral operations. DOS interrupts, subroutines, etc. are not called and DOS gets no CPU time. NetWare can access the DOS partition, but it does so natively, without using DOS. As d50041 pointed out, it is possible to unload DOS entirely from memory and recover that first MB of RAM for NetWare's use, using a simple console command.
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Author Comment

by:bizooga
ID: 8262342
Just out of curiosity what is the console command to unload dos?
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Expert Comment

by:lpenrod
ID: 8262376
REMOVE DOS
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Expert Comment

by:PsiCop
ID: 8262833
bizooga,

You can use REMOVE DOS, as lpenrod suggested, or also SECURE CONSOLE. Note that SECURE CONSOLE does a number of other things, such as limiting from where NLMs may be loaded, and you should make sure its what you want to do, because the only way to undo it is to reboot.

Once you unload DOS from memory, the DOWN command will no longer shut down to a DOS prompt - DOS will be completely gone and you would have to reboot to get it back.
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Expert Comment

by:lpenrod
ID: 8263034
To reboot a server before the RESTART SERVER command, you used to create a ncf (batch) file that contained three lines:

REMOVE DOS
DOWN
EXIT

When the system would EXIT, there would be no DOS resident in memory to return to so the system would warm boot.
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Expert Comment

by:CleanupPing
ID: 9156521
bizooga:
This old question needs to be finalized -- accept an answer, split points, or get a refund.  For information on your options, please click here-> http:/help/closing.jsp#1 
EXPERTS:
Post your closing recommendations!  No comment means you don't care.
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LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:PsiCop
ID: 9158803
Well, if the points were split among everyone who provided correct information, we'd have below-minimum point awards.

I suggest an even split between lpenrod and 50041.
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